RIFLE — The cost of Rifle’s new water treatment plant has been cut by $3 million, after some recent design changes.
The city expects to put the project — funded by a $25 million loan — out to bid in early April and award a contract in June.
The city obtained the money for the plant through a low-interest loan from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority. Two years ago, Rifle voters approved a 3/4-cent sales tax increase to help repay the loan.
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 new plant will be located on city property along U.S. Highway 6. Work is expected to last up to two years.
City Manager Matt Sturgeon told City Council at a workshop that the contractor could be on site a few weeks after the contract is awarded.
“I think the cost savings we’ve managed will be well worth the changes we made,” he added. “It hasn’t been wasted time, but necessary to have a much smoother project.”
Resident Engineer Jim Miller said bids are scheduled to be opened at City Hall on May 21, followed by a contract awarded by City Council on June 4.
Nine general contractors have been pre-qualified as bidders, he explained, but only one has a “local” presence with an office in Glenwood Springs.
“There will be ample opportunities for local subcontractors on this project,” Miller added. “But we’re not going to force any marriages between general contractors and subs.”
Sturgeon noted City Council had earlier approved a “best value” bid award procedure rather than one that favored local contractors, due to the size and complexity of the project.
Among the work local subcontractors could perform on the project are painting, lumber, earth work and rental equipment, Miller said.
“There’s a lot of electrical work, but that may likely be a bigger contractor than a local one,” Miller said. “But we could have a lot of speciality subs with hundreds of people on site and many of those people will likely be looking for [hotel and motel] rooms.”
In a follow up interview on Friday, Miller explained that the cost savings come in part from changing the design from concrete-lined sludge drying beds and gravity thickeners to clay-lined drying beds. That will save $2 million, he noted.
“Clay is cheaper than concrete and we can have city crews do that work instead of the contractor,” Miller said.
More than $1 million will be saved by renegotiating a contract with General Electric to defer a second stage membrane filtering system, he added.
“That benefit would come years from now, when demand increases and then we may need the membrane filter,” Miller said. “But right now, we can get the same kind of recovered water with the clay drying beds.”