Archive for Thursday, June 23, 2005

Engineering firm estimates costs to hit $6 million

June 23, 2005

Estimates indicate that expanding Basehor's sewage treatment plant could cost between $5.5 million to $6 million, according to engineers the city hired.

The Basehor City Council hired Professional Engineering Consultants in April to study the most cost-effective way to expand the city's sewer plant, which was constructed in 2001 and is nearing its peak capacity. The plant was constructed so it could be expanded, and PEC engineer James Martin briefed members of the Basehor City Council Monday on the proposed expansion project.

The project under consideration would increase the plant capacity from treating 535,000 gallons a day to up to 2.4 million gallons a day.

Martin said that the price tag submitted to council members was based on projected costs in January 2006 and that estimates are "as close as we can get right now with the most recent construction environment."

"My range has some wiggle room in it," Martin said. He added, "We're at the mercy of what the market will bear."

"We would recommend you don't look at anything less than $6 million," said Martin, who works out of PEC's Topeka office. The firm also has branches in Wichita and Lawrence.

Earlier this year, city superintendent Gene Myracle told council members that only 75 to 100 new connections to the treatment plant separated it from reaching capacity.

Myracle said funds needed to expand the plant would pay for a series of structures -- clarifiers and basins and other costly components. The city superintendent said it's important for city officials to "stay on the path" to expanding the treatment plant.

"In two years we could be where we couldn't take on any more users," Myracle said.

City council member John Bonee questioned the cost estimate that PEC presented.

"It just seems a little out of whack as far as what we're getting for our money," Bonee said.

Martin said there is no definitive way to identify a set cost. When it comes to building or expanding treatment plants, there are variables, he said.

"Are we hedging a little bit? Yes, we are. If we throw too low a number out, we're doing you a disservice. ... We're trying to hit a happy medium."

Basehor Mayor Chris Garcia, who was a member of the Basehor City Council in 2001 and helped plan for construction of the current plant, told PEC engineers that projections years ago were woefully off kilter with the plant's final costs.

He warned that change orders to the proposed project or lax estimates would be met with scorn by the current council.

"I think we've been through this enough," Garcia said. "I don't want to hear, 'I forgot.'"

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