By DAVID REID
HOLYOKE - A complicated bid by Aquarion Water Services of Bridgeport,
Conn., to design, upgrade and operate the city's expanded wastewater
treatment plant for 20 years will get a full airing before the City
Council's Finance Committee, Monday, October 18, 2004.
The meeting follows a public
presentation last week by technical, legal and financial consultants
hired by the city and by a team of civilian volunteers that separately
analyzed Aquarion's proposal.
Although the City Council has no direct
role in awarding the contract - that responsibility is solely in the
hands of Mayor Michael J. Sullivan - Public Works Superintendent
William D. Fuqua said he is following up on a commitment to update the
council. Two years ago, however, the council authorized spending about
$1.2 million to hire consultants to prepare developer bid
specifications needed to enter a private-public partnership. Those
consultants are still at work evaluating the proposal from Aquarion.
The council might also be needed to
approve bonding to pay for some capital improvements at the plant.
Sullivan said consultants say the
Aquarion proposal will save the city $7.1 million over 20 years, based
on the preliminary analysis from both the paid and volunteer
consultants. While sewer-user rates will rise over the next two
decades, the consultants reported, the Aquarion proposal will result
in lower rates than if the city proceeded alone.
The aim of the project is to comply
with federal and state environmental requirements to stop sewage from
overflowing into the Connecticut River during heavy rains. Currently,
a number of major sewer lines are combined with stormwater pipes, a
situation that has resulted in significant illegal releases.
Sullivan said Friday that he will base
his decision on specialists' analysis of technical data.
"We had independent experts,"
said Sullivan. "These are people of great integrity (and) they're
all out there staking their professional reputations on this."
Among highlights of the Aquarion proposal to upgrade the wastewater
- Improve the city's flood control
- Develop a comprehensive emergency
- Produce a new 20-year maintenance
and repair plan for equipment.
- Set baseline equipment evaluation
- Replace 100-year-old sewer and
stormwater pipes and roofs on three plant buildings.
- Institute more effective odor
controls at the plant.
- Hire up to 25 of the current sewer
department employees to operate the expanded plant.
The Finance Committee will meet at 6:30
p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.