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Rifle water plant bids too high

Two bids on the City of Rifle’s new water treatment plant came in $8 million to $11 million higher than expected, and city staff are looking at options, including reducing the scope of the project.

“I’d say we’re looking at scaling back the project, but I’m not sure it will mean a significant delay,” said Resident Engineer Jim Miller on Tuesday, May 27, after he, City Manager Matt Sturgeon and Utilities Director Dick Deussen met with state health and water quality officials in Denver to discuss the project.

“They understood our situation and there are some things the health department is not interested in seeing included in the project,” Miller added.



Those include architectural details and finishes, he said.

“The Front Range companies we had been looking at said activity there was starting to pick up. The ones in Utah and Phoenix are actively seeking work.”
Jim Miller
Rifle resident engineer

A contract was scheduled to be awarded by City Council on June 4, but Sturgeon said a workshop before that meeting will explain the situation and recommendation from city staff. The bid is now scheduled to be awarded on June 11, Sturgeon added.



The city received two bids on Wednesday, May 21, for the Rifle Regional Water Purification Facility project, according to a news release. Alder Construction, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, submitted a base bid of $33.1 million and PCL Construction, located in Phoenix, Ariz., with an office in Glenwood Springs, submitted a base bid of approximately $36.5 million.

Miller said he was surprised at how much higher the bids were than the latest engineer’s estimate in May 2013 of around $24 million.

The city received a $25 million loan from a revolving loan program, administered by the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority, to build the plant. Two years ago, Rifle voters approved a 3/4 cent sales tax increase to help repay the loan.

Miller said nine firms were initially prequalified to bid on the project, five attended a mandatory pre-bid meeting, three were considered serious bidders by the city but one dropped out before the bids were submitted.

“The Front Range companies we had been looking at said activity there was starting to pick up,” Miller said of the companies removing themselves from consideration. “The ones in Utah and Phoenix are actively seeking work.”

Miller added the city has 90 days from the time the bids were opened to award a contract, but did not think the process would take nearly that long.

The project was originally designed to include improvements to the city’s raw water pump station, a new 24-inch raw water pipeline to the new 40,000-square-foot plant, 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.

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 would be located on city property along U.S. Highway 6 and construction work is expected to last up to two years.

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.

The delay in awarding the project follows several previous delays, many due to getting the required 22 permits from Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment officials. The city also changed the location of the plant within the site, so additional groundwater and other tests were required by the health department and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


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