Snoqualmie council approves call for bids for wastewater facility improvements

After a fire damaged the building and equipment in 2015, Snoqualmie’s wastewater reclamation facility has been in need of a new system that would allow the city to keep up with maintenance, send waste by-products to beneficial use facilities, and save the city money in processing.

On Monday, Oct. 9, the Snoqualmie City Council approved a call for bids for the construction of phase 2 water reclamation facility improvements. The project would allow the city to send processed biosolids to beneficial use facilities in Eastern Washington, where they could be used as fertilizer on farms. The project also includes improvements to the wastewater vactor station and a stormwater vactor station.

Todd Saxberg, operations manager for utilities, said the projects, which will be located at 38190 SE Mill Pond Road, were combined as a way to get them all done as soon as possible and to save money on construction costs. The three projects are listed in the Utilities Capital Improvement Plan at a total of $14 million, but city engineers estimate the combination of the projects would leave total construction costs at approximately $12.5 million.

“We are combining all three of these projects to save some money because they are all going to occur in the same spot. When I started looking at the CIP, I looked for geographical and economies of scale that I can find for you and the citizens and it looks like we can find a pretty big one here,” Saxberg said to the council.

Saxberg said the construction itself is projected to come in at $11.3 million, with an additional $1.2 million in consultant costs to program the computer system that collects data and is used to manage the facility, as well as construction management to make sure everything is done correctly and on time.

Saxberg said that for phase 1 of the improvements, the bids came in $750,000 less than the estimates, and hopes the city will find similar savings in phase 2.

“The huge benefit here is staying on top of maintaining the facility properly, which ultimately leads to significant savings and value for the community,” said Mayor Matt Larson.

By coming in under the $14 million total, the remaining difference would free up the funding for other projects in the CIP in the future, he said.

With approval from the state Department of Ecology, the city is temporarily sending waste to the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill until the new facility can be completed. At the city council meeting, Tom Holmes, wastewater superintendent, said state law allows them to use the landfill for only two years and they needed to overhaul their facility to take advantage of the savings that come with turning waste into resources for farmers.

“Beneficial means it goes to a place where it can be used like a soil augment or fertilizer. It’s a soil amendment, it will go out there on farms and grow crops,” Holmes said.

Along with the projected savings on construction, the facility would also have long term savings. When asked by council how much the city could save, Holmes said that it costs $1,000 per ton for Waste Management to currently transfer sewage to the landfill. The cost for transporting to beneficial use facilities would be only $45 per ton.

Saxberg said the request for bids will be published on Nov. 14, and if the project approvals go smoothly construction could begin in February.

Construction is expected to be completed by the end of March 2019.

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