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City's new wastewater treatment plant project may come in $3M under budget, consultant says

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WILLMAR -- The cost of Willmar's new wastewater conveyance and treatment facility is expected to be $3 million under budget, according to an official with facility consultant Donohue and Associates.

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"We expect to be in the range of $3.1 million under budget,'' said Ken Sedmak, Donohue senior project manager. "Instead of an $86.2 million project, we expect to be closer to $83.1 million.''

Of 13 contracts approved for the project, six have been finalized, and Sedmak doesn't believe the seven remaining contracts will change substantially or much at all.

While the cost had been budgeted for $86,218,712, the actual cost is expected to be $83,081,315, Sedmak told the City Council Monday night.

He spoke during a wide-ranging presentation on project planning, design and construction management during the past five years that lead to startup and operation in August and September of the treatment facility located five miles west of town and conveyance system.

Sedmak and Donohue drew praise from council members and Mayor Les Heitke for a job well done.

Heitke said Donohue solved a huge odor problem that had emanated from the old plant, located just east of the Kandi Mall, and provided a plant that will serve for decades.

Council member Doug Reese said the old plant, which sits in the ward he and Jim Dokken represent, had been a "thorn in our side'' for many years.

Reese was a member of a committee that selected Donohue from among three consultants, based on Donohue's record, experience, detail and reputation. Reese praised Donohue, plant contractor Graham Construction Services and other contractors for a "job done exceptionally well.''

Rick Fagerlie, who first ran for the council because the odor issue was so bad in his neighborhood, said the new plant is awesome. He praised Donohue staff members for attending every Public Works Committee meeting and council meeting. "I've never seen that from a contractor or architect firm,'' he said.

Bruce DeBlieck said moving the treatment plant had been discussed for over 20 years.

"One of our concerns was to build a plant that was simple to use and doesn't smell,'' he said. "I was skeptical on the odor. But after touring the (new) plant, there is no odor coming off this plant. It will provide service to the city well into the future.''

Former City Public Works Director Mel Odens, invited by City Administrator Michael Schmit to attend the presentation, said the plant was moved for growth, regulatory and odor reasons.

"Remember, we didn't just move the odor, we controlled it. The design helped control it,'' he said.

Sedmak praised the cooperation and coordination with city employees, saying it was a "real joy'' to work with them.

Also, he thanked the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for its part in the entire planning, design and construction process. Sedmak said the three volume 1,000-page facilities plan took a year to complete and was approved by MPCA in one month with no comments.

"The reason is they were part of the process of developing that facilities plan in Willmar. That was an excellent effort by MPCA to come here and spend some time with us and know what we were doing so that by the time this document came to them, it was a review document,'' said Sedmak.

In related business, the council approved a change order in Graham's contract. The change order totals $91,540 and consisted of 15 items that came up during plant observation and startup. Donohue officials say change orders totaled 0.2 percent of the total project costs.

The council also ap-proved the low price quote of $22,996 from Stacy's Nursery of Willmar to furnish trees for the city's 2011 tree-planting program. Two other companies submitted higher price quotes.

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David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150
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