The Hard Labor Creek Reservoir Management Board on Tuesday voted to award an $18.6 million contract for a construction manager for a water treatment plant at the Walton County reservoir.
The Board also voted to award a nearly $600,000 contract for design of the water transmission line from the planned treatment plant to Walton County’s water distribution system.
In both cases, the Board chose the low bidder.
The Walton County Water and Sewer Authority, to which the Management Board is advisory, also approved the two contracts.
Oconee County, which is a partner with Walton County on the reservoir project, has three members on the seven-member Management Board but no representative on the Walton County Water and Sewer Authority.
All three of Oconee County’s representative joined the unanimous votes for both bids.
Oconee County will now begin discussion of likely bond sales to cover its $12 million contribution to the project, Oconee County Administrator Justin Kirouac, one of the county’s three Management Board representatives, said after the meeting.
At their joint meeting in February, both the Management Board and Water and Sewer Authority approved an $8.3 million proposal from Jacobs Engineering Consulting Group Inc. of Atlanta for design of the water treatment plant.
|Parker, Board Chair Mark Saxon, 4/11/2023|
That amount was on top of the $156,100 the Management Board and Water and Sewer Authority had agreed to pay Jacobs for separate work on the initial permitting steps for the water treatment facility and on an update of the 2016 Basis of Design Report for the plant.
Project Manager Jimmy Parker of Precision Planning Inc. said at the time that design will take 18 to 19 months.
The contract with ESI is for design of the transmission lines from the water treatment plant.
The transmission line will run a little more than 12 miles from the treatment plant at the reservoir in the southeastern corner of Walton County to State Route 138, Parker said.
The decision to move forward on the treatment plant and transmission lines, approved by the Management Board and Water and Sewer Authority last September, was in response to a request by Walton County Board of Commissioners Chair David Thompson.
Oconee County and Walton County are partners in the project, but Walton County has said it needs the water now, while Oconee County does not, so the transmission line is designed to serve the current needs of Walton County alone.
The Archer Western Construction contract is for management services associated with the overall construction project, not for actual construction costs.
Oconee County Commitment
Total costs of the project won’t be known until bids are received, but Walton County has issued bonds for $69 million for its costs.
The state of Georgia has committed $42 million to the project.
Oconee County, which is a 28.8 percent partner in the reservoir, is projected to owe $21 million.
Oconee County has informed Walton County, however, that it will contribute only $12 million at this stage.
Walton County Commission Chair Thompson told the Management Board last September that he expects Oconee County to pay its share of the costs in the future when it does need the water, plus interest on what he termed a loan from Walton County.
Oconee County Plans
Oconee County Commission Chair John Daniell has said the $12 million commitment was based on the ability of the county to finance the project.
“The final mix of cash and debt will be determined as we get closer to solid construction numbers,” he said.
The county has $3.9 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds it can use, he said.
Following the meeting on Tuesday, Kirouac said “we will likely do a bond issue.”
“We’ll talk to our advisors as to when is the optimal time,” he added.
I asked Daniell on Tuesday evening if the county has “an agreement with Walton on what the county will need to do when it decides it wants water from the reservoir?”
“We don't have a final agreement,” Daniell responded.
The $597.244 bid by successful bidder ESI of Marietta for the design work on the transmission line was less than half that of the next highest bidder, Prime Engineering Inc., of Atlanta, with a bid of $1,370,210.
Carter and Sloope of Watkinsville had bid $1,745,400.
Parker said the difference was largely attributable to the use by ESI of Drone LiDAR technology to do the survey of the route of the transmission main rather than conventional field crews.
The successful bid by Archer Western Construction of Atlanta for the construction manager at risk bid was $18,550,005.
PC Construction Company, with offices in Atlanta, was the only other bidder at $19,900,589.
Both bids estimated construction costs at $90 million, and the primary difference between the two bids was Archer’s fee of 8 percent of those costs and PC Construction’s fee of 8.95 percent of construction costs.
Apalachee River Intake
To accommodate future expansion of the reservoir’s capacity, the Management Board and Water and Sewer Authority on Tuesday also agreed to pay $126,958 to Thomas Brothers Hydro for decommissioning the hydroelectric plant at High Shoals.
Thomas Brothers will close the steel head gates, de-energize the turbine unit, and remove wooden flashboards from the upper dam at the hydroelectric plant.
The Board and Authority will not pay Thomas Brothers for the work but rather will reimburse Jason and Carol Victoria Presley, who hold the license for the plant.
The plan is to build an intake facility on a 3.48 acre parcel between SR 186 and the Apalachee River in Walton County owned by Victoria Presley.
The plan at some point in the future is to draw water from that intake facility and pipe it to the existing reservoir to increase the volume of treated water the reservoir can generate.
Parker told the Management Board and Water and Sewer Authority that the money for the work to be performed by Thomas Brothers is in reserves from bond sales from construction of the reservoir itself.
The meeting of the Board and Authority took place at the Walton County Historic Courthouse in Monroe.
The video below is of the entire meeting of the Management Board and Water and Sewer Authority on April 11.
Through a technical error, the initial video was not recorded, but a separate audio recording was used to incorporate that part of the meeting behind a still image overlay.
Discussion of the contracts for the water treatment plant begins at 3:41 in the video.
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