Montgomery Watson, a global water and wastewater services firm, won the $3.3 billion (£2 billion) contract for the five year AMP 3 period (2000-2005).

Bechtel’s had been under contract to North West to provide engineering services for the preceding AMP 2 period (1995 – 2000). Bechtel declined to comment on the deal, saying they viewed it as “merely the end of a contract.”

From April 1, 2000, Montgomery Watson will provide North West with programme management, design, procurement, construction management and commissioning services. “Montgomery Watson will provide North West Water with access to worldwide innovative technical solutions to tackle the challenges of the next regulatory period,” North West Water said in a statement.

The deal was greeted with qualified satisfaction by the managing director of Montgomery Watson UK, Ron Cole.

“We are neither pleased or displeased,” Cole told edie. “The facts are, the tender came for bidding, we submitted and we won -but we are obviously pleased to get the job.”

Murli Tolaney, Chairman and CEO of Montgomery Watson, was less guarded. “This win is a milestone for Montgomery Watson and offers further evidence of our premiere leadership in water and wastewater programme management and our track record in achieving programme savings,” Tolaney said in a statement.

Cole told edie that, in his opinion, North West Water chose Montgomery Watson over Bechtel because Montgomery Watson’s technical expertise is based specifically on experience in the water and wastewater sectors.

“North West Water were looking for technical excellence for the type of work that’s coming up in AMP3,” Cole said. “I presume they thought we were better at that type of work. I am also assuming that Montgomery Watson’s prices were lower than Bechtel’s. I don’t know. We have never been told. But the bids were judged on a mixture of technical merit, price and construction management experience.”

Cole was keen to play down suggestions that Montgomery Watson’s appointment represents a victory over an old rival. “We have a good relationship at the top level in the US. It’s not a battle, we are very cooperative. In fact, the two companies are involved in several joint ventures together in the US.”

The companies will have to cooperate under a three party transition agreement that will run until April 1. Until then, Bechtel will carry on working on construction projects begun under AMP2. Montgomery Watson is also negotiating plans to take on around 300 of Bechtel’s North West Water staff.

North West Water, part of United Utilities, provides water wastewater services for seven million domestic users and 200,000 business customers covering a 14,000km2 area in north west England. Within this service, the company manages 147 WTWs, 617 WwTPs, over 40,000km of water mains, 30,000km of sewers and 960km of aqueduct.

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