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Florida-based company to upgrade ‘important’ wastewater treatment plant equipment

City hall plans to spend over $1.5 million this year to refurbish lagoons at the wastewater treatment plant and will give the contract to the company that originally installed the waste infrastructure.
City hall. Photo by Jason G. Antonio

City hall plans to spend over $1.5 million this year to refurbish lagoons at the wastewater treatment plant and will give the contract to the company that originally installed the waste infrastructure.

During its Feb. 26 regular meeting, council voted 6-1 to approve the direct award contract for the Biolac pond refurbishment project to Parkson Corporation from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for $1,535,000, with engineering services to pay for the contract from this year’s S3 wastewater treatment plant budget line. 

Coun. Dawn Luhning was opposed.

City hall undertook a major upgrade and capacity expansion project at the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) in 2009 and upgraded the system to a Biolac Wave Oxidation process — proprietary technology of Parkson Corporation — for biological nutrient removal, a council report explained.

The two Biolac ponds treat wastewater with a nearly chemical-free biological process using activated sludge and air delivery — adding air and bacteria help breakdown material — while the clarifiers remove solids, the document continued.

Many components have life expectancies of 15 to 20 years, including the Biolac lagoon ponds, which means they must be rebuilt within the same time to function for another two decades, the report said. 

Specifically, there is “visible wear” on certain tubes and hoses, affecting air delivery to the ponds. Air leaks are noticeable as either sputtering or bubbling wastewater in the ponds, which is why the city must upgrade the piping.

“Further labour planning is underway to determine if one or both ponds can be completed within the approved budget,” the report said. 

The operations department’s preferred option was to have Parkson Corporation rebuild the ponds on site with OEM parts and supervision from company staff to save money, the document continued. Otherwise, it could be difficult for the city to acquire other specialized labour for the project, which would result in increased costs for even just one pond. 

The preferred option would cost $480,601.35 for one pond and $961,202.70 for two ponds; if the city had to find labour and technicians, those expenses would jump to $833,696.31 and $1,667,392.61, respectively. 

The report added that Parkson would supply the materials and supervision for the completion of at least one pond this summer.

City administration initially planned to spend $1,385,000 on the contract but increased the agreement after a “productive conversation” with Parkson about the project, said Bevan Harlton, director of operations. 

The Florida-based company said it was willing to work with the city and reduce certain project expenses, thus encouraging city hall to sole source the entire initiative to Parkson and have it complete both ponds, he continued. This is why the contract jumped an extra $150,000.

This request is still within the total S3 wastewater treatment plant budget of $2.09 million and will not affect other initiatives in that area, Harlton added. Also, department staff and the city’s engineering consultant will oversee the project while Parkson employees conduct the actual construction. 

“This is pretty in-depth with what they do. It looks as though to say they’re specialists is an understatement,” said Coun. Jamey Logan. 

Coun. Heather Eby singled out the line in the report about administration having to find extra labour because of the nature of the work if it went that route. She said having another option was positive since there was “nothing worse” than council approving a project and then directors returning saying they can’t find workers.

“Let’s just get it right the first time so the work can be awarded and planned and done,” she said, adding with a chuckle, “Even though we don’t understand it, it’s a really important part of our infrastructure for every resident in the City of Moose Jaw.” 

The next regular council meeting is Monday, March 11. 

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