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Waterline inspection contract renewed
Water system replacement project one-third done
new deh water line project pic web
Shown is work on the Great Bend waterline system along 10th Street late last Fall. With the project one-third done, the City Council approved a contract to continue inspection services. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

 Citing satisfaction with the services provided by the city’s on-call engineering firm, the Great Bend City Council Monday night approved an extension of the contract with Professional Engineering Consultants of Wichita to inspect the ongoing extensive $6 million water system improvement project.

The council approved a 26-week inspection contract with PEC that started Sept. 20, 2017, but this contract would have expired March 21. The extension keeps PEC on the job until the completion date of March 9, 2019.

The additional fee, which is based on an hourly rate, will not to exceed $351,835 and can be terminated at any time. The 26-week agreement was set to cost no more than $156,000.

“The contract at that time was for only six months because there were questions as to whether that would work,” Interim City Administrator George Kolb said. But, one-third of the way through project, things look good.

“We have done an analysis on the inspection work that is being done and we are very satisfied with what we are getting in terms of eyes and ears on the contractors,” Kolb said. 


Explaining the contract

“Wow, sticker shock,” said PEC engineer Josh Golka who addressed the council. “Project inspection is always a contention issue.” 

There are 350-some days until completion and the contract costs just over $350,000. This makes the daily inspection cost about $1,000, but this includes the full-time inspector on site, logging, documentation and other expenses.

However, “the greatest compliment we get for the quality of the services we provide is that city staff has come back and asked for this extension,” Golka said. 

The industry standard for inspection and testing services is 15 percent of construction cost, he said. Of the $6 million total, $4 million is for construction, making PEC’s fee 12 percent.

Golka said they budgeted for 12-hour days, six days a week. But the project may require less than that, making the cost lower.  

That’s not the only positive, he said.

“At bid award meeting, we tried to stress the potential complications we can get into with a downtown waterline replacement job,” he said. Below the streets are 100 years of old, abandoned and forgotten utilities. 

“We knew that as we got into construction, we would find things nobody knew about or things not being where we thought they were,” he said. All of these could impact the price of the work and cause delays.

But, the contractor, APAC-Kansas Inc. Shears Division of Hutchinson, and city personnel resolved any problems efficiently, he said. “Our issues have been relatively minor.”

Needed improvements

As planned, the total project price tag was $6 million, with $4 million for construction, $500,000 for well improvements, and the balance for design, testing, inspection, administration and other expenses. However, so far, the work is $1.3 under budget.

Although the bond issue was for $6 million, Golka said bid numbers came in very favorably, about 60 cents on the dollar. This has allowed the project to include all the alternate bells and whistles and still save money.

“The city has a tremendous need for this,” Golka said. “Basically, you’re improving the entire quality and integrity of the water distribution system.”

The work involves the replacement of 40,000 linear feet of waterlines that are 4- to 6-inch cast iron pipes dating back about 60 years. Many of the old lines are corroded, leaving some with flow reduced to the size of a ball-point pen.

“This wasn’t sufficient to support fire or life-safety applications,” Golka said. The new plastic lines will be 8 inches in diameter, the current standard. 

The city purchased the water system in 1999. It was in dire straits at the time.

In the early 2000s, PEC performed water system master study for Great Bend. The first phase of improvements came a few years later.

That was a $2.5 million bond issue to improve lines on 10th Street from Washington to McKinley and Grant Street to what was then Central Kansas Medical Center. 

This second phase dates back to 2016 when the council approved a $6 million bond issue for the current upgrades.