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Rifle water plant requires budget reallocation

Mike McKibbin
Citizen Telegram Editor
Mike McKibbin Citizen Telegram
Staff Photo |

Plans for Rifle’s $25 million water treatment plant recently ran into a potential $1 million issue that required some shifting of funds already allocated for the project, Rifle City Council was told at its May 1 meeting.

A raw water line now in use in the city system had been planned for use to connect a 3 million gallon water storage tank to the new plant, along U.S. Highway 6&24 east of the city. However, its age and previous modifications in size to increase capacity is believed to have stressed the pipe, said resident engineer Jim Miller.

Utilities Director Dick Deussen said in an interview on Monday, May 6, that the water line had four different sizes of pipe added on over the years.

“We need a good evaluation of that,” he said of that part of the cost shifting.

“They were not negligent or anything like that.”
Rifle City Attorney Jim Neu

If a new raw water line must be included, the cost is estimated at $1 million, Deussen said.

Another factor in the overall cost allocation for the plant is the reverse osmosis treatment part of the project, Miller said.

“We recently concluded it was not possible to obtain an accurate condition assessment prior to bid,” Miller wrote, due to mechanical and other issues.

Deussen said the reverse osmosis was purchased used from Colorado Springs and it did not include programming details so it will work with the new plant. Some missing pieces also need to be replaced, he added.

“We can add it on to the new plant once we get that all done,” he explained.

The two factors required the shift of approximately $50,000 from other budget areas of the project, he said. Council approved the move on a 7-0 vote.

The issue resulted from work by Malcolm Pirnie/Arcadis, the city’s construction managers on the project.

“It wasn’t an error in design,” said Miller.

City Attorney Jim Neu said the city is now asking the firm “to do some more work, so we can find other ways to save money” in response to the cost issues.

“They were not negligent or anything like that,” Neu added.

“Best value” to be used to hire contractor

Miller and Deussen also asked the council to waive the low bid requirement for the project and allow the city to award it on a “best value” basis of price, schedule, safety record, qualifications of key personnel and other factors.

The municipal code require bonded projects greater than $100,000 to be awarded to the low bid.

“It will encourage innovation and a reduction in price, we feel,” said Miller.

The city will be able to pick from several bid alternates from each bidder, each with different elements of the project, he added.

Miller noted it had been a year since contractors were prequalified and firms may have lost, or committed, key personnel (project managers and superintendents) to other projects. A best value basis allows the city to consider possibly dismissing contractors proposing inexperienced personnel and contractors with a poorer history or large unexplained magnitude of change orders, he added.

A “best value” approach would also increase the chances of local contractors and resources would be involved by requesting a list of subcontractors a firm would use, Miller wrote.

The city can also consider price and schedule together instead of only price, he added. Extended or overly aggressive schedules place additional burdens on the city, Miller explained.

Malcolm Pirnie/Arcadis supports making an award based on best value, Miller wrote, and added the city had awarded past contracts on “best value.”

Work could start in August

Deussen said the final permit for the water plant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment had been reportedly approved, but the city had yet to receive it as of the meeting. Once that is in hand, Deussen said the city would seek bids from contractors and open the ones they receive on July 16. City Council will likely be asked to select a contractor by the end of July. He anticipated a mid-August start on the project.

“No one anticipated we’d have a seven month review of the permit” by the department, Assistant City Manager Matt Sturgeon said. “So it’s kind of been a piece meal approach.”

Miller said he believes the long review time was due to Rifle being “the unlucky city to submit a permit after they had developed new design criteria” for water plants. So the applicant first in line is kind of the guinea pig to see how it works.”

Miller said the department is also understaffed, so the review was lengthy.


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