It was a bitter pill for the Great Bend City Council to swallow as it approved repairs to waterlines along Meadowlark Street, the cost of which will be $81,401.
The series of leaks in this area has drawn considerable social media attention, as well as ire from residents along the street. They have said water has oozed out of the lines and flooded gutters and front lawns since last fall.
So, council members were keen to find a resolution, having fielded calls from folks tired of the mess. At the Aug. 19 meeting, they charged City Administrator Kendal Francis and city staff to solve the situation.
“It is a sizable expense,” said Francis as he outlined the project Monday night.
The contract was awarded to APAC of Hutchinson, which offered the only qualified bid. This is the firm that handled the recent waterline replacement, and was hired to repair a collapsed manhole on 18th Street and the waterline leak on Broadway in front of the University of Kansas Health Systems St. Rose Pavilion.
At issue are five broken valves that are stuck in the open position and four which have sprung leaks, Francis said. The contractor will replace broken ones with “inserta-valves,” allowing the isolation of the others so water can be turned off and they can be fixed.
In addition, APAC will do the excavation, backfill, curb and gutter replacement and reseed the yards where necessary, Francis said. Since APAC was already mobilized in Great Bend, he said the city probably got better pricing.
“They will handle the entire project,” he said. The only other bidder would have only done the valve replacement for $47,000, leaving the rest to the city. “We just don’t have the time.”
Francis said the repairs should be done by the end of October or early November.
“I think it is important to take care of this before winter,” Councilwoman Jolene Biggs said. “This has been going on for some time.”
In the future, Francis said the city will look at purchasing the equipment needed for this sort of work and training city personnel to do it.
“We know there are more out there,” he said. “We know we will encounter this again.”
Towards the end of 2018 there were about 60 water leaks city-wide. Francis met with Public Works Director Simon Wiley who dedicated a couple of his Water Division crews to address the problem.
With more leaks popping up last winter, city employees repaired about 100 of them so far. Still, those in the area of 23rd and 24th streets between Harrison and Jefferson along Meadowlark garnered social media play.
The city sought pricing from contractors who could make the repairs, Francis said. Some of the work may be more than city personnel can handle.
But, he said the cost of the project exceeded his “signature limit,” or what he can authorize without council approval. It also exceeded his $25,000 emergency authority, which he could approve and seek council ratification after the fact.
That is why he brought back to the council for approval.