Over budget bids temporarily sink SED basin project

By: 
KATHLEEN GILLULY
Outlook managing editor

Instead of moving forward on a resolution to grant a construction bid for building a new sedimentation basin, councilors were urged to reject current bids and allow staff and engineers time to pare down the project because all the bids came in high. Director of Public Works Kurt Markegard took lead on explaining the problem to the aldermen and woman, as the city’s Chief Administrative Officer did not attend Tuesday’s workshop.
A combination of a poor bidding environment and underestimating certain costs were blamed for the high bids. But, both Markegard and Chad Hanson from Great West Engineering told council there may be changes that could be made, including eliminating parts of the project, modifying others and delaying some, like a fence and security system, that would bring the project within budget and allow construction this fall.
The city had budgeted about $6.4 million for the project which would remove sedimentation from river water prior to treatment. Water could then be treated for residents or diverted for CHS without the addition of chlorine. According to Markegard, the city needs the new facility because the current system is at or almost at maximum filter capacity because the city is using more water than can be pumped.
“Seeing bids were higher we have to reevaluate,” he said. “I would ask you not to vote on a bid until we can review our options.”
Markegard also noted that, “if we use the new intake, we might not need the frazzle ice thing,” planned as part of the SED basin. He said the city is using the new intake only during the day shift because the flow of water has to be manually monitored. He added that when the new basin is built, it will have controls so that won’t be an issue.
“You mean we have a new intake that we aren’t using,” asked Councilor Emelie Eaton.
Between Markegard and Hanson they explained that to ensure the old intake will operate as a backup, both systems have been in use, although that was in dispute Wednesday morning when Nathan Herman, chief operator at the water treatment plant told the Outlook the new intake is not being used.
“I think we are better off putting this off until next year until we can evaluate,” Alderman Tom Nelson said.
The current timeline requires a bid be accepted at the Aug. 1 meeting in order for construction to occur in the Oct.-Nov. window when the river should be at a level to allow it.
During the council discussion weighing the cost of postponing the project, Markegard made a point of telling the council that it was not the intention of staff to pass costs on to ratepayers, although the council authorized a rate study in May. At that meeting Jensen said it was time to look at raising rates.
Tuesday’s council meeting can be viewed in its entirety at www.laureloutlook.com

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