- Associated Press - Sunday, April 20, 2014

MODESTO, Calif. (AP) - An audit has found that Modesto’s $1.3 million project to upgrade the water quality control laboratory at the city’s wastewater treatment plant has partly gone to waste.

The Modesto Bee reports (https://bit.ly/1iABmQy ) the project included purchasing about $350,000 in equipment that public works officials said that would allow staff members to test the water instead of outsourcing the work to other labs. The move was intended to save the city nearly $145,000 annually.

The lab tests the city’s drinking water, storm water and wastewater to ensure they meet state and federal standards.

However, an independent audit released by the city this month found that the lab never obtained proper certification for the equipment, so its test results can’t be submitted to the state and the lab must continue sending testing associated with the equipment to other labs.

The audit of the public works department’s water and wastewater divisions concluded the divisions suffer from poor leadership, low morale, among other problems, and suggests that the city reorganize the department.

Deputy City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley said city officials sought the audit because they knew the lab had problems. She said the city has been working to improve the lab and public works.

“Every step has been a step toward a better laboratory,” she said.

The audit by Moss-Adams LLP cost the city about $80,000.

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