City of Wilcox awaits $3 million for its wastewater treatment plant
The project is expected to improve wastewater treatment service for the city’s 1,000-plus existing residential connections.
City Manager Ted Soltis updated the Willcox City Council on the project at its Feb. 16 meeting, saying that the necessary $3 million would have to come from 50-percent grant funds and 50-percent borrowed money.
“The paperwork is done. We are getting ready to close on the loan,” he told the council. “We are just about there.”
Soltis said he would return to the council at a future meeting with a reconstruction start date.
At its Jan. 19 meeting, the Council unanimously approved a contract with the Tempe-based firm, PCL Construction, for the reconstruction “contingent on the city receiving full funding.”
During his presentation, Srikanth Yamani, with Wilson Engineering, told the council that while the City is “just over $3 million short in funding … the paperwork has been submitted by USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) to cover the difference.”
Yamani told the council that once the city received the approval and the work started, construction would take one year.
He also presented a brief history of the plant, saying that in the late 1940s it was a 5-acre single lagoon and another 7-acre lagoon was added in 1967.
The 1980s saw the addition of surface aerators and chlorination, then in 2002, a lift station, a septage receiving station (for septage haulers), and a lab/control building were added, he told the council.
In 2011, the plant’s treatment process was upgraded, with effluent to be discharged to Lake Cochise or the Twin Lakes Golf Course.
With the reconstruction, the city will be able to continue reusing the treated wastewater at the golf course, instead of using potable water for that purpose.
Regarding the reconstruction’s bidding phase, Yamani said the call for bids was in the Sept. 28, 2016 edition of the Range News, and a pre-bid meeting was held Oct. 6.
The city received sealed bids from six contractors on Oct. 28, 2016, said Yamani, pointing out that PCL was the lowest bidder.
Regarding the project’s current status and funding, Yamani said the post-bid opening package was sent to USDA on Nov. 30, 2016.
Per a Dec. 8 conference call, USDA Area Specialist Jeff Hooper sent it on to USDA for funding approval, he told the council.
Five of the six bidders have agreed to extend the bids to Jan. 28 “to allow time for USDA to secure additional funding,” said Yamani.
Willcox Mayor Mike Laws asked Yamani if he was satisfied with “the aspects of the contract,” to which he replied that he and Public Works Director Galo Galovale had both worked with PCL in the past on other projects.
“They are a good team and know how to build treatment plants,” said Yamani.
Vice Mayor Terry Rowden asked if the contract would be paid monthly and would the invoices be approved by both Wilson Engineering and city staff
Yamani replied in the affirmative that the invoices would be submitted to the city for approval, as well.
Councilman Sam Lindsey questioned the cost of $2 million for electrical work, to which Yamani replied that they are trying to “spread the cost as much as we can…the actual cost might be less.”
Councilwoman Rachel Garza asked if there would be room for growth, to which Yamani replied that the reconstructed plant would be able to accommodate an additional 5,000 people.
On Nov. 12, 2012, city council had approved an engineering services contract with Wilson for the final design phase.
The Phoenix-based firm re-started the design on Jan. 25, 2013.
Once that phase was completed, city council unanimously approved a contract with Wilson for construction manager services at its Dec. 17, 2015 meeting.
The reconstruction project will rehabilitate the existing plant by converting the process from a lagoon system to an oxidation ditch system.
In 2010, city council considered this issue for several months before making its final decision.
Working with Tetra Tech for engineering services, both city staff and council looked at several alternatives for plant replacement, including improvements to the existing lagoon system; a Single Basin Activated Sludge System, a packaged plant system and an oxidation ditch system.
Ultimately, the council selected the oxidation ditch system as the best alternative at its July 6, 2010 meeting.