The Bemidji City Council is moving forward with their plans to treat PFAs in the city’s drinking water before the end of 2020.
During their council meeting last night, city engineer Craig Gray explained that there will be four total bids, but the first three bids were for the materials and construction, where the fourth will be for a general contractor.
The first part of the near-term water treatment plant is an iron-manganese treatment system. Barr Engineering officials explained in previous meetings that in order to treat the PFAs, iron and manganese needs to be removed first. A bid for $997,000 was awarded to Tonka Water, and the city’s estimate was at $2.8 million.
The second part is a system to remove the PFAs compounds. The city’s estimate was at $1.2 million, and Gray said the two bids came in right around that estimate. Calgon Carbon Corporation was awarded the bid at just over $1.2 million.
The third part of the near-term plant is to create the structure of the building, such as concrete tip up panels, the exterior of the building, the roof, the footings, what will make up the shell of the plant. That bid was awarded to Moline Concrete for $636,000, about $34,000 less than the city’s estimate.
City Finance Director Ron Eischens laid out three funding possibilities in previous meetings, reiterated by Gray at the meeting last night: state bonding dollars for half of what will be around a $16 million project, a sales tax to fund the city’s $8 million half, or the entire project will be funded by a utility rate increase.
Funding for this project is still fluid, especially with the state legislature essentially in recess until mid-April. The legislature is closed due to concerns over COVID-19. Mayor of Bemidji Rita Albrecht commented that this could have large impacts on the construction of the plant, especially with strains on distribution this virus is causing.