PUB treatment plant bids OK’d

PARKERSBURG – The Parkersburg Utility Board on Wednesday accepted a bid for upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant, along with some adjustments to keep the cost of the project in line with original estimates.

Three bids were received for the project. The lowest, by St. Albans-based Orders Construction Company Inc., was $9.351 million. Combined with three additional items and design reimbursement, engineering and inspection costs, that put the project a little more than half a million dollars over the original projection of $12.7 million.

An ordinance recently approved by Parkersburg City Council gave the board the ability to issue bonds for the project for as much as $13.7 million, an amount the board and its counsel requested in case bids came in higher than anticipated. But during Wednesday’s utility board meeting, board Manager Eric Bennett recommended eliminating one of the additional items and decreasing the reimbursement the utility would receive for the design fees already paid to bring the overall price back to $12.7 million.

“There is no change in the loan, no change in any rates,” he said.

The project is being funded by a low-interest loan from the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Council. City Council earlier this year approved a gradual, four-year rate increase to help pay for the project.

Utility board members voted 3-0 Wednesday to approve Bennett’s recommendation. Vice Chairman John Lutz did not cast a vote, since he was filling in as chairman of the meeting for Mayor Bob Newell, who was absent.

The project will include replacing aging rotating biological contactors with an additional secondary clarifier and aerobic digester and installing new mixing equipment in the primary digesters to make them more efficient. It is part of an effort to meet federal Environmental Protection Agency mandates to eliminate overflows from the sanitary sewer system into rivers during wet weather events.

The additional item eliminated was a second grit washer to provide some redundancy in the system. That yielded a savings of $150,000.

“We can put some key parts on the shelf and make sure that we don’t have issues if something fails,” Bennett said.

The other additional items are a change to the system used in the primary clarifiers to address issues that have been around since the equipment was installed in the 1980s, a cost of $380,000, and installation of an additional boiler to provide heat to the primary digesters should the current one go down, which has a $340,000 price tag.

To keep those and offset the rest of the overage, Bennett said the PUB will not seek full reimbursement for the $833,370 it spent on designs for the project. The reimbursement amount will now be $452,820, a decrease of $380,550.

“That money was slated to be put back into the reserve account for future improvements,” Bennett said.