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Wastewater treatment plant upgrade totals $15.4 million

The Sunnyside City Council reached the middle of the road last night in awarding the bid for court-mandated construction improvements to the wastewater treatment plant.

Based on the recommendation of Sunnyside Public Works Director Jim Bridges, Council approved awarding the bid for the wastewater treatment plant improvements to Stellar J. Corporation for $14.3 million. After sales tax, the project will cost the city $15.4 million.

This is the second round of bids the city has accepted for the wastewater treatment plant improvements, said Bridges. In early June, the city received several bids for the project, with the lowest coming in at $14.9 million. But for a couple of different reasons, the city rejected the initial bids and reopened the project for new bids.

The city received three bids this time around, all of which were considerably less than the lowest bid in the initial round.

The bids on the second go-around ranged from $14.5 million to $14.3 million.

"We think these are excellent bids," said Bridges.

The bid amount for the wastewater treatment plant improvement project approved by Council is actually less, before sales tax costs, than the $14.7 million that was estimated the project would cost.

The city has found a couple of funding sources to assist in paying the initial costs for the wastewater treatment plant improvement project. Sunnyside obtained a $12.3 million, zero interest, 20-year loan from the Washington State Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund. Bridges also secured two grants, one for $4.4 million from the Centennial Clean Water Fund and another for $964,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The improvements to the plant will help the city improve the quality of discharge to a nearby drain, which in turn funnels the treated water into the Yakima River. The project also calls for the construction of a new state of the art operations center at the plant. The project also involves refurbishing the two existing primary clarifiers at the plant.

One of the major benefits to the plant improvement project will be the construction of an ultraviolet light disinfection system, which will result in the city not having to use chlorine to treat waste.

Also provided in the report to Council on Monday night was an overview of Stellar J. Corporation.

In the past five years, the company has worked on 11 projects, five of which are still in progress. The largest project Stellar J. Corporation is working on is a $15.1 million water satellite plant. The largest completed project by the company is in the town of Friday Harbor. Stellar J. Corporation worked on the city's wastewater treatment plant at a cost of $6.6 million, with only 5.1 percent in change orders being recorded.

Construction on Sunnyside's wastewater treatment plant is expected to begin in mid-to-late September. The improvements to the plant must be completed no later than March 2, 2007.

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