An unexpected design change is increasing the engineering cost of a project to collect and dispose sludge and backwash water from the City of Swift Current’s water treatment plant.
Councillors approved the scope change and additional engineering fee during a regular council meeting via video conference, Feb. 8.
MPE Engineering Ltd. of Saskatoon was appointed in March 2020 to provide engineering services for the water treatment plant residual management project. The original fee for these services was $101,685.86 (PST included, GST excluded).
The scope change means an additional fee of $158,152 (PST included, GST excluded) will be paid to the company.
The purpose of the project is to collect clarifier sludge and chlorinated filter backwash water from the water treatment plant for disposal at the City’s waste water treatment plant.
City General Manager of Infrastructure and Operations Mitch Minken provided details about the reason for the project scope change.
MPE Engineering carried out hydraulic modelling during the preliminary design phase and determined the waste water lift station at the northwest corner of the Chinook golf course parking lot and the sanitary gravity sewer do not have adequate capacity for the residuals from the water treatment plant.
The company therefore looked at three alternative locations and identified the sanitary sewer main at the corner of Knight Crescent and Fentons Drive as the best option.
“This tie-in point utilizes a 375 mm sanitary sewer main that services the McIntyre industrial park,” Minken noted. “The sanitary sewer main will have ample capacity for water treatment plant residuals and industrial park sanitary requirements.”
A force main with a length of 1,800 metres will be installed to pump residuals from the water treatment plant.
“With the change in project scope, there will be additional detailed design, geotechnical investigation and site inspections, which relate to the altered pipeline alignment,” he said. “This scope change will also include project management and Water Security Agency permitting.”
A significant portion of the cost of the scope change will be due to the new pipeline route. The crossing of a CP Rail spur line represents $79,200 of the total cost of the additional engineering fee. A horizontal drill will be used to tunnel underneath the spur line and there will be no disruption of rail service.
Councillor Pat Friesen felt it was a good thing that this scope change took place before the start of the construction phase for the water treatment plant residual management project, which will be an expense of $2 million in the City’s 2021 capital budget.
“When I looked at this, I found it was unfortunate that we are going to have to spend another $160,000 in engineering costs, but in saying that, I’m pretty happy we found out now that they checked it,” she said. “They found out that we needed to move it do a different location, because otherwise we could have spent $2 million and had a big problem when we were done.”
Councillor Ryan Plewis said this additional expense for engineering fees and the larger $2 million budget for the entire project are typical examples of expenditure in the City’s annual budget.
“It’s just one great example of how these infrastructure dollars are just so massive that we deal with,” he noted. “There are no easy decisions here. This is not a job where the decisions are obvious necessarily or they come to you, but they’re all necessary, and unfortunately, we have an infinite list of needs and a very finite ability to get those things done.”
Council members agreed the City will have no choice but to continue with this $2 million project in the 2021 capital budget, because it is required due to updated environmental standards. The City is currently releasing the clarifier sludge and chlorinated filter backwash water into the Swift Current Creek, but the revised Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Saskatchewan Water Security regulations will not allow this to happen in the future.
The sludge and backwash water must now be collected, and the Water Security Agency requires the completion of the City’s residual management system by March 31, 2022.
“Another great example of something we deal with as a council all the time is regulatory change,” Plewis said. “The entire purpose of the overall project is that environmental standards have changed. So at the flick of a pen in the legislature, in the bureaucracy somewhere, we’ve had a regulatory change. And that regulatory change has meant very significant things for the City of Swift Current in this case.”
The new arrangement after the completion of the entire project will be to pump the residuals to the lagoon cells at the City’s waste water treatment plant.
Mayor Al Bridal added that the entire cost of the project will actually be close to $3 million when all the work is completed, because another $550,000 will be spend on lift station upgrades.
Minken said the re-routing of lift station number seven is required for several reasons, including the need to accommodate the additional capacity from the flow of sludge and backwash water from the water treatment plant.
“One is for additional growth, both by Cypress Point and as well as the South Munro industrial,” he explained. “So those lift stations require upgrades due to those reasons, as well as now with the additional flow from the water treatment plan residuals.”