Rifle water plant site may change
Citizen Telegram Editor
A different site on a city-owned parcel of land adjacent to the original site is being considered by the City of Rifle to help reduce costs for the $25 million water treatment plant.
The step comes after two bids on the plant came in $8 million to $11 million higher than expected. A contract was to have been awarded by City Council on June 4, but was delayed and City Manager Matt Sturgeon said a recommendation on how to proceed with the project was scheduled for a Monday, June 16, meeting. Sturgeon added the option of rejecting the two bids was a possibility.
Sturgeon told City Council at its June 4 meeting that he had approved a $75,000 contract with Kumar & Associates of Denver to do some geotechnical testing of soils at the adjacent 65-acre site, which was given to the city decades ago by the Union Carbide Corp.
In a June 5 interview, Sturgeon said the adjacent site has fewer constraints than the current proposed site, on city property along U.S. Highway 6.
“If the geotechnical testing doesn’t find any problems, we can save money on concrete and foundation work,” he added.
Sturgeon said the design called for a foundation that could handle “worse-case scenario” problems, so it could be scaled back and still meet requirements. Other savings could come from not having to pre-treat and pump excess groundwater off site, Sturgeon said.
Reducing the capacity of the 6 million gallons a day plant is not likely, however.
“We have a number of built-ins to the system that depend on that size,” Sturgeon said. “If we reduce the capacity, it will be very hard to add on to the plant in the future and it would be very cost prohibitive.”
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.
Sturgeon said the Western Area Power Administration, a federal agency, had told the city that other similar projects on Colorado’s Front Range have seen bids come in 30 to 50 percent higher than engineer’s estimates.
“So we’re not alone,” he noted. “The companies all scaled back their workers when the recession happened, and now that it’s picked up over there, the prices are coming in much higher than anyone thought.”
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. Sturgeon noted the delays have not affected the funding for the project. He said the sales tax cannot be used on other city needs.
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 water plant is aging, undersized to serve projected population growth and unable to meet possible tougher federal water quality standards in the future. Construction work was expected to last up to two years.
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 twice changed the location of the plant within the original site, so additional groundwater and other tests were required by the health department and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
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