City finalizes water treatment plant improvement project

City Commissioners voted to approve final payment for an improvement project at the city’s water treatment plant.

During their April 6 meeting, commissioners  voted to the final payment of $204,156 to Sletten Construction and $2,062 to the State Miscellaneous Tax Fund.

The project was significantly delayed last year due to delayed delivery of valves and actuators, key components for the project, which was part of recommendations from a 2011 study to replace filter media, underdrain system replacement, and installation of filter cleaning apparatus.

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“These upgrades are integrated with existing plant processes to improve overall plant efficiency, performance and control. This project is essential to maintaining the high quality of water the city is accustomed to, along with the ability to maintain compliance with Montana Department of Environmental Quality requirements for water quality and availability,” according to the city public works department.

Paul Skubinna, city public works director, told commissioners that even with the cost overruns, the project ended up coming in under the total contract award, which was issued in fall of 2019.

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The commission had approved a $343,250 change order in November 2020 to the contract with Sletten for additional costs caused by the delayed delivery of the valves.

Skubinna told commissioners that his department was still working with the city legal department and the valve supplier to find an acceptable resolution for the expenses that the city occured due to the late delivery of the valves.

He said that if the city had canceled or not rescheduled the project, the city wouldn’t have been able to meet demand for water last summer and lost about $330,000 in revenue, or worst case scenario the city would have had to spend $2.5 million daily to purchase water to meet demand in the community.

“This was a substantial change order, but it was the least of the evils that we were facing,” Skubinna said during the April 6 meeting.

Now the project is complete, the filter performance has improved by about 30 percent longer run times and 25-40 percent less potable water used to clean, according to public works.