© Cory Hurley
Steve May, Corner Brook’s director of operational services, speaks at the Rotary Club of Corner Brook meeting on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014.
CORNER BROOK — A year after approving the contract for the design-build of Corner Brook’s new water treatment system, Steve May is confident in saying the project is still $15 million under the original tenders.
The city’s director of operational services says the agreement with Pomerleau of Montreal is filled with guarantees — maintaining the estimated price tag of about $49-$50 million is just one of them.
That is still much lower than the $60-$65 million the tenders came in at in 2010. That was for a project which was originally estimated and approved through federal and provincial funding at $36 million.
Trials and tribulations of the project have been well publicized, right up until the time the project was eventually approved through the unique design-build concept. The plant alone had come in at $41 million through the original tender process, but is now estimated at about $28 million.
Pomerleau provided the smallest and simplest plant design, said May. Like some of the other bidders their design featured the dissolve air floatation (DAF) system that has been chosen. That company also submitted the lowest estimate for annual operating cost to the city.
Last summer, Pomerleau conducted a pilot trial at the site, using a mini version of the proposed plant.
“They processed our water, the exact water we will be running through our water treatment plant for a 30-day process,” May said. “They tried all kinds of different chemical combinations, and it proved to be very successful.”
He said it confirmed the design and that there are other operational savings which can be realized.
The construction phase is underway, beginning with site preparation in fall 2012. The creation of the plant, which is three levels below ground, began in spring 2013, while the construction of the steel building began last fall.
Following the commissioning phase — which is expected to be late 2014 — there will be three performance trials of 10 days each. The trials are based on capacity and quality, from multiple sample points and must be achieved to reach the substantial completion — and ultimately receive payment for the project.
“We felt like we had enhanced our protection with the project ... a lot of unknowns, given up the control of this, but they have to prove this system works,” May said.
Of Pomerleau’s $25 million bid, the city is holding back $500,000 for these trials.
“If they want all of that $500,000, they have to be in the plant, run it, and prove it can work under all the varying water conditions,” he said.
There is also another $500,000 for an operational guarantee.
“We didn’t want them low-balling their estimated operating cost and having no repercussions if they are wrong,” May said.
There is no payment if the operational cost is more than 20 per cent of the original estimate.