Council gets $350,000 surprise in renovations at treatment plant | News | The Press and Standard

by | August 10, 2017 5:00 pm

Last Updated: August 9, 2017 at 10:40 am

Walterboro City Council members got a $350,000 surprise at last week’s council meeting.
Turns out, the engineer from AECOM hired to oversee the renovation of the city’s wastewater treatment plan underestimated the cost of cleaning out the old waste from the equalization basin at the plant by 400 metric tons.
The discovery was made by the contractor actually doing the work, Wharton Smith Inc. of Charlotte, N.C. The engineer had projected the amount of waste that needed to be removed at 200 metric tons — that amount has already been removed and the project is only about one-third complete. Wharton-Smith believes that they have at least another 400 metric tons to go before the project can be completed.
The discovery pushes the cost of the project (originally estimated at $3,644,000) to just over $4 million.
Most of the increase will be covered by the loan from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which has a construction contingency of $378,400, said City Manager Jeff Molinari.
Councilman Bobby Bonds was aghast. “How could this happen?” he asked. Utilities Director Wayne Crosby replied that his office questioned the original estimate — he’s been with the treatment plant for 18 years and the basin has never been cleaned. But the engineer assured him that the estimate was correct.
In the end, it doesn’t make any difference, said Mayor Bill Young. “You hire expertise and assume they will give you good numbers. That didn’t happen in this case,” he said. But the project must be completed, so council had no option but to agree to the increase.
Crosby said the timeline for completion is on schedule and should be finished in December.

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