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January 2, 2013
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Five-member team to oversee new water plant work

Three companies, a resident engineer and Rifle's utilities director will be the city's oversight team on the $25 million water treatment plant set to begin construction next spring.

At its Dec. 19 meeting, Rifle City Council unanimously approved a construction management contract with ARCADIS and Malcolm Pirnie for up to $690,000, and agreed to hire Phil Vaughan Construction Management of Rifle as the owners advisor for up to $203,750. The city recently hired Jim Miller as the resident engineer for the project, officially the Rifle Regional Water Purification Facility.

The total cost of the contract, agreement and hiring of Miller is $1.1 million, Utilities Director Dick Deussen explained to the council in a written report. Funds will come from the $25.5 million loan the city received from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Authority to pay for the project.

The total cost compares to $1.4 million for these purposes in the loan agreement, Deussen said, and added the city spent about $1.2 million at the wastewater plant for these services.

Deussen said the average daily cost of the contract with ARCADIS and Malcolm Pirnie is estimated to range from $52,000 to $78,000 a day.

With offices in Highlands Ranch, ARCADIS has water management, engineering, and environmental restoration expertise, according to their website. Malcolm Pirnie focuses on water quality, process, planning and delivery and has expertise in water science and engineering.

The city has had a contract with the two companies since April 30, 2009, for design and construction engineering services, including resident engineering. Action by the council on Dec. 19 amended that contract.

Jack Bryck, principal in charge for ARCADIS, said he and Bayard Yang, project manager for Malcolm Pirnie, will help resolve design and permitting issues, ensure quality control, certify the construction to review agencies and help with engineering where needed.

Phil Vaughan said his company will work with Deussen and Miller, help resolve construction contract issues, process and review complex change orders, among other duties.

Project details

City officials have said the existing Graham Mesa plant is aging, undersized to serve projected population growth and unable to meet possible tougher federal water quality standards in the future.

The project will include improvements to the city raw water pump station, a new 24-inch raw water pipeline to the site of the new plant (east of Rifle on U.S. Highway 6), the new plant itself, a radio tower at the Graham Mesa plant for remote data transmission of the city's water system to the pump station and then by cable to the new plant, and connections to water transmission and main lines.

Deussen said the end result is to have a "seamless transition" from the Graham Mesa plant to the new plant, without any loss of water service or shutoffs. Eventually, the Graham Mesa plant will be demolished.

Bryck called the project "unusual and complex, because you listened to the public and you have both [reverse osmosis] and [granulated activated carbon]" treatment processes, along with membrane filtration.

Schedule delayed slightly

Deussen said the project schedule "had slipped a little bit" from initial plans, with bids from nine pre-qualified contractors now expected in the first three months of the year and construction work starting in May. The contract calls for a two-year construction phase, including commissioning and testing the plant for the final two months, Deussen said.

"We still need some permits and that could affect the schedule, too," he added.

Deussen said permits are expected soon from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Colorado Department of Transportation. One permit from the Colorado Department of Public Health has been received, but another one has just started that agency's review process, "so it will be a while," Deussen said.

Other permits have already been approved by the Grand County Public Health Department, city planning department and the Union Pacific Railroad, Deussen noted.

Deussen said while the contract with the winning bidder will include liquidated damages if the plant is not operating by May 2015, it will not include incentives to finish early.

Deussen said the site work will entail trucks hauling dirt from the site east of Rifle to the old sewer lagoons west of Rifle.

Expenses questioned

During a workshop before the council meeting, Councilman Keith Lambert said he hoped the city would avoid a situation that occurred during the construction of the wastewater treatment plant.

"I was called into meetings where the distinct impression was that the tail was wagging the dog and the contractor and subcontractors were dictating what was done," Lambert said. "That's not the way it was supposed to work. I want to trust that you have the people and the system in place to avoid a repeat of that situation."

Miller said a solution could be to include all subcontractors in weekly progress meetings, where issues such as when pay checks will be issued, can be communicated.

Vaughan said the contract with the general contractor can include dates and timelines for those types of actions.

City Manager John Hier said if a pay request from a subcontractor is filed too late to be considered at one of city council's two regular monthly meetings, "they'll have to wait another two weeks and they need to know that."

Miller noted the amounts of pay applications vary widely, from nothing one day to perhaps $3 million the next, depending on the work schedule.

"I just want to know that every dollar on this project is accounted for," Councilwoman Jennifer Sanborn said. "In the past, I haven't always felt that way."

Miller noted that three people - himself, Vaughan and Deussen - will review and approve each pay application before they reach city council.

A web-based computer management tool will be used by all contractors and subcontractors to communicate with Deussen, Miller and Vaughan, at cost of $99 a month, Miller said.

Councilman Rich Carter questioned the role of ARCADIS and Malcolm Pirnie and whether they were being paid too much.

"It sounds like you have the smallest role, so I'm not sure it's worth $690,000," Carter said. "That's a lot of money."

Miller disagreed.

"Each one of us has many important functions to help keep the project moving forward and on schedule," he said. "There's a lot of work to make sure everything works together. I think you're paying considerably less than what you did for the wastewater plant and I know it's lower than other projects like it."

"It sounds to me like we have a good plan," Sanborn summed up. "And I do get asked about these expenses a lot, so it's important I can tell people I have confidence we're being smart."


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The Post Independent Updated Jan 2, 2013 04:51PM Published Jan 2, 2013 04:49PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.