Council OKs contract with consultant for new sewage pumps
Porterville’s waste-water treatment facility is getting four new raw sewage pumps — at $60,000 to $75,000 apiece.
In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the Porterville City Council gave the city’s public works director the green light to begin negotiations with a consultant to prepare plans to remove and replace the pumps at the facility, located at 333 W. Grand Ave. The contract between the city and Carollo Engineering, an environmental engineering firm headquartered in Walnut Creek, will cost no more than $60,000.
According city staff, the sole purpose of the four pumps is to move roughly 5 million gallons of daily sewage up to ground level to begin the treatment process. One of the pumps is out for repair and public works staff believes the remaining three will soon experience significant problems, the report states.
Porterville City Manager John Lollis said during the council’s regular meeting Tuesday night that typically, if the city were not “facing a little bit of a dire situation,” the process to hire a consultant involves drawing out the specifics of the project, requesting proposals for consultants, awarding the contract to the qualified firm, designing the project, going out to bid and awarding the contract to the most qualified construction company.
“You’re talking about a year’s time frame,” Lollis said. “An element of concern is that we might not have a year. I don’t know and I don’t want to find out.”
Lollis said the existing pumps are driven by a 27-foot shaft with motors placed directly above ground level. New technology, he said, involves a immersible pump — the motor and the pump are both submerged, not separated by the shaft.
“We’re looking at a half-a-million dollar project for the replacement of all pumps and motors in the next year, year and a half,” Lollis said.
Porterville Public Works Director Baldo Rodriguez said the existing pumps are getting old, and getting replacement parts can take anywhere from 16 to 18 weeks. He said Carollo Engineers is uniquely qualified to come up with the design because Carollo designed the original system and was involved in its construction.
Council member Greg Shelton said it concerned him that the hiring of a consultant didn’t go through a request for proposals process.
Mayor Virigina Gurrola said she didn’t want to see the city lose out on any prospective businesses looking to locate in the city because the city would be unable to treat their waste.
“What I don’t want to see is for us to lose that waste water treatment facility and we got industry coming in that is asking for some specs in regards to that,” she said. “So, a bandage approach for me isn’t the way I want to see us go. If we need to bring somebody in and start looking at the design then to me in the long run that’s going to save us more money. It would mean new technology so that just serves us better as a community.”
Contact Denise Madrid at 784-5000, Ext. 1047. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseMadrid_.