2005-11-24 / Front Page

New water tower contract awarded

By Dotti Farrington

Sitting as the Board of Water and Sewer Commissioners, the Town Council Monday awarded the contract for the new water tower to be located on Howland Avenue to the Fisher Tank Company of Chester, Pa., the lowest of three bidders for the project, at $1,169,220.

The vote was 2-1, with two members absent. The councilors briefly discussed if the low vote was valid but quickly determined that its rules provide for adoption by a majority of those present, which must be at least three of the five members. Council President David Long and Councilman Michael Schnack voted to award the contract, but Councilor Barbara Szepatowski wanted to wait until all the councilors were present. Council Vice President Julio DiGiando and Councilman William Kelly were absent.

Szepatowski said she thought the full membership should review the award because there was some opposition to the plans for a second water tower at a recent public hearing.

Long said the award decision and the hearing comments represented different issues. Funds for the tower already were approved by voters, 2,055 to 1,007 in the November 2004 election as part of the $6.2 million bond issue for several water department projects. The hearing was conducted as an environmental impact review, he noted.

Bids for the 1-million-gallon water tower were submitted by Caldwell Tank of Louisville, Ky., at $1,285,200, and CBI (Chicago Bridge and Iron) at $1,339,600.

Bid analysis

Fay, Spofford and Thorndike of Burlington, Mass., consultants for the water department projects, provided an analysis of the bids.

They reported that Fisher Tank has been constructing aboveground tanks for more than 57 years. The Jamestown contract is one of about 100 that it has in various stages of completion, the consultants noted. Representatives of recently completed jobs rated the company highly, the consultants added.

After reviewing bank and bond references, the consultants concluded that Fisher Tank “has the necessary qualifications, resources, experience and financial ability to perform” the contract work. The bid specified that $1.154 million would be for the tower and related pumping station and mechanicals, and the balance of $15,220 for excavation, fill materials, and related items.

When plans for the new tower were first announced about two years ago, the cost was estimated at $1.1 million and had not been updated.

The councilors at the time of the bond approval committed to spend only $5.2 million of the total of bonds approved because of a $500,000 federal grant for the tower and other cost-saving decisions made. Other components of the water department projects are a new water treatment plant, which still is undergoing design and permitting work, and the installation of about 7,000 feet of new water mains in the village area.

The councilors Monday briefly discussed the status of the plant design, concentrating on the pros and cons of a hipped roof over a flat roof. They asked for specifics about costs and long term maintenance for their next meeting.

October hearing

The Oct. 27 public hearing drew challenges about the need for a new water tower to be a twin to the existing one, because of other improvements to the water system that some residents thought offset the need for a second tower.

About two dozen residents attended the two-hour hearing and some of them expressed confusion or disagreement about explanations given by town officials and consultants.

The major stumbling block for residents involved the way a water tower functions. Town and consulting engineers repeated explanations about how a water tower, alone or in a pair, works. They said “it’s a matter of simple physics.” However, some residents could not understand or accept the math as explained.

The existing tower, holding a million gallons, provides less than 400,000 gallons of storage water for emergencies, especially fire protection, the engineers explained. The 400,000 gallons is less than the maximum needed for ordinary purposes for one day, they noted. Doubling the storage in “twin towers” totaling two million gallons of water would provide not quite 800,000 gallons of storage water for emergencies, according to the engineers.

Also questioned were explanations about new storage being needed when so much water is being saved by a combination of pipe repairs cutting water loss, conservation measures being used, and the new water treatment plant to use so much less water to clean its filters by backwashing them with treated water.

New meter system

Among other reports this week, Public Works Director Steven Goslee announced that the new water meter reading and billing system has been installed. He said the system eliminates manual data entry and will be used first for accounts where meters have been difficult to read. Eventually, all meters will be read by the new radio access method, Goslee said. He reported that the system involves radio transmissions to a central receiver located atop the existing Howland Avenue water tower. He said the system will end all manual interaction in the reading and billing process.

Rainfall

Goslee reported that last month had the most rainfall for any October in his decades of recording such data. He said both town reservoirs, North Pond and South Pond, are full. He said that means the pumping of water from South Pond to North Pond has been stopped until the water level in North Pond begins to drop, probably sometime after winter. North Pond holds 60 million gallons and South Pond holds seven million.

Goslee also noted that town wells, which provide 4 million gallons or about six percent of the town needs, are shut down for the season.

The treatment plant operated in October at 99 percent efficiency down a percentage point from the previous month’s perfect score because of the extra filtering required by the rainfall, Goslee said.

He had explained last month that the treatment plant efficiency, meaning a high rate of billing, resulted because very little treated water is leaking out since improvements to the pipe distribution system have been over the past few years. “This translates into savings for energy to pump, treatment chemicals used, and water that is available for other uses,” Goslee said.

Sewer plant

Goslee reported also that the wastewater treatment plant rehabilitation plans are complete and will be discussed at the upcoming Dec. 19 commission meeting. He noted the plant flow again exceeded an average of 20,000 gallons on 15 days in October. The permit level is 730,000 gallons per day. He said the exceedances underscore the need for upgrading the plant.

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