Bids coming soon for new water treatment plant

By ED HOWELL, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 2/13/18

The Curry Water Authority is making progress on a new water treatment plant, which has been in the works for several years and now is close to taking bids for construction.

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Bids coming soon for new water treatment plant

Posted

The Curry Water Authority is making progress on a new water treatment plant, which has been in the works for several years and now is close to taking bids for construction.

According to the Curry system website, currywater.com, “The Curry Water System is classified as a rural water system that provides potable water to approximately 17,300 population or 5,790 active customer connections in Walker and Winston County, Alabama. The coverage area includes the communities of Curry, South Lowell, Macedonia, Thach, Poplar Springs, Black Pond, Redmill and the west/southwest parts of Lewis Smith Lake.” 

Donald Steele, manager of the system, said on Friday, Feb. 2, that all the permitting is completed from various regulatory agencies on the project. Permitting on this project has been in the works since 2011, although it has been in discussion and unsuccessfully attempted for decades.

The intake system to draw water out of Smith Lake was bid out, he said, with construction to be completed shortly. As regulations would have prevented the authority from disturbing the lake shoreline and doing any work after March 31 until November, officials decided to go ahead now with the intake work.

“We would have had to wait another year” to do the work if it had not started late last year.

Cleary Construction in Tompkinsville, Ky., won the bid for the intake system, with a bid of roughly $1.6 million, Steele said.

Bids have been advertised on the construction of the actual water treatment plant, with bids expected to be opened on Feb. 27, he said.

“What we did on this project, since it was so important, our engineers pre-qualified the contractors beforehand. They actually had to qualify to be able to bid on it,” Steele said. “We had eight who actually qualified.” Seven of the bidders came to a preliminary pre-bid meeting on Feb. 1.

The plant would handle 4 million gallons a day, he said. “The most we have ever done in a day, and it only happens in unusual circumstances, maybe once or twice a year, is 2 (million gallons,” he said. “Looking out and planning for the future, we believe that the (4 million gallon capacity) should handle it for a good long while.”

Without complications, the plant would be operational to produce water by the end of 2019, he said, although that could be delayed according to what happens along the way. Construction should be finished by next year, if officials can stay on schedule.

The board decided to fund the project with bond issues, as other options, such as grants, could be time-consuming, which could draw out the schedule, Steele said. “Bond issues can be done very quickly,” he said. Some local authority funds are being used for the intake and some other upgrades.

Officials have not gone to the bond market yet.

Rates have remained stable, with the last increase being in February 2016. He said the authority continues under a non-contract wholesale rate from the Jasper Waterworks and Sewer Board until the project can be completed. Curry has been the largest water customer for Jasper, which takes its water out of the Warrior River.

Although he said “one or two” customers had complained about the work, “but the majority has been favorable. A lot of times when you talk to people, some of them thought we were already doing it. They assumed we were already pulling out of Smith Lake. Most of them are asking how it is going and are favorable toward it, and are glad we are doing it.” 

Steele said the reason the authority is doing the project is that officials feel the water supply will be better and having its own treatment plant will make operations more efficient to be able to feed most of the system by elevation. Several pump stations and tanks will be installed, he said.

The project will give the authority more control, adds another source of water to the county and leave room for growth, he said.

“The (authority’s board members), this has been their goal since the 1980s. They have had a lot of time to ponder, study and think on it,” he said, noting they are pleased with the overall progress of the project.

He said they have been concerned in the past about delays on the engineering, as officials had wanted to be up and running once a contract ran out with Jasper. Steele said the previous engineer appeared to be “overwhelmed” in his work, leading the authority to get behind on its schedule.

However, the engineering firm in question was later bought out and the authority has been pleased with the results from the new owners.