The Brainerd Public Utilities Commission accepted a bid Tuesday from an engineering firm to study the Brainerd-Baxter area's wastewater treatment needs for the next 20 years.
The commission hired BARR/BDM Engineering for $79,000 to perform the study, which should be completed by the end of August or early September, said Superintendent Tom Phelps. Staff members estimated costs would be about $100,000 for the study.
Six bids were submitted, ranging from $16,500 to $96,000. Phelps said the wide range of bids signaled to him that either the lower bidders didn't understand the tasks associated with the study or were attempting to "buy" the project and recoup their actual costs in future work they would assume they would be awarded when an anticipated wastewater expansion project would take place. As a result, Phelps told the commission he and other staff members were not recommending the three lowest-bidding firms, which submitted bids ranging from $16,500 to $24,500.
Instead, they recommended BARR/BDM Engineering, which recently completed a wastewater expansion project in Hibbing and has worked on the wastewater treatment plant at the Missota paper mill. The two other higher bids were $88,500 and $96,000.
The cost of the study already had been budgeted.
The commission isn't required to accept the lowest bid when hiring consultants.
In other action, the commission authorized that Well No. 7 be repaired, with an estimated cost of $35,000 to $40,000. Phelps told the commission that work has already begun on Well No. 7, which was installed in 1955 and produces 1 million gallons of water per day, or more than 50 percent of the city's water demand.
Phelps said Thein Well Co. removed the well and found the column pump, bowl assembly, impellers, suction pipe and strainer had deteriorated and needed to be replaced. In addition, the casing needs to be brushed and the screen acid-treated and sprayed with water jets. Phelps said Well No. 7 is the first well staff members scheduled to inspect and service on its new well restoration/rehabilitation program. Each of the wells will be inspected and serviced on a six-year rotation, he said.
Phelps said the well should be up and running by June for the peak water use period.
The commission authorized a surplus sale of old equipment. The sealed bid surplus sale will be at 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for one day during the week of May 24. All surplus equipment will be located at the service center.
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