After months of discussion and negotiations, the Price River Water Improvement District board has apparently decided to approve the final culinary system for the Hill subdivision.
The crux of the problem has been the supply pump facility that must be included in the subdivision to supply proper pressure to existing homes and future residences constructed as part of the development project.
Original subdivision developer Richard Lee hired engineers to design the water system. The engineers designed a premade drop in place unit.
But PRWID managers were hesitant about approving the unit because, once the subdivision was completed, the system would be turned over to the district for upkeep and maintenance.
One matter coming under question involved the brand and type of pumps the engineers suggested using at the subdivision. PRWID managers wanted to keep maintenance costs down.
But since different pumps were recommended than PRWID used at different locations, the managers felt stocking extra parts and working on unfamiliar units might be a problem.
Due to the prefab construction of the unit, PRWID was also concerned about potential problems arising when changing pipes and devices became necessary.
But the district had no detailed specifications on a total unit and what PRWID had in place. However, the district board was not willing to approve the unit's installation due to PRWID management concerns.
In addition, the design favored by the district might cost more money. The developer questioned having to absorb the cost of a different system, while the engineering design met the provided specifications.
"After the last board meeting a month ago, we had a work session meeting with staff, a couple of board members, and with the developer," explained PRWID manager Phil Palmer on Tuesday. "We were able to break down the pump stations cost and I think we have come to possible resolution to the problem, depending on what the board wants to do."
After comparing estimated costs, the group determined that the design PRWID wanted to use was $2,418 more than the unit designed by Lee's engineers.
"The costs on this are very close for the entire package," pointed out Palmer. "I guess it comes down to whether the board can consider what we are asking for as a betterment and if we should be responsible for that extra cost."
Along with the difference in pumps and welded fittings, the developer's design included a box installed in the ground, which would be considered a confined space under occupational safety and health regulations.
"That means every time we would work down there, based on it's construction, we would have to use three people rather than one," said Palmer. "That could be costly."
Board member Steve Rigby had mixed feelings about splitting costs on what is presently a private project.
"One thing to remember is that, when this is turned over to the district, we are going to have to repair it literally forever," stated Rigby. "We need a system we can repair efficiently. But whether we should pay for that, I don't know. Dick is putting in the subdivision and that's private. I worry that will set a precedent that we may not want to live with."
Palmer pointed out that whatever the district holds Lee to on the project, PRWID must also ask of others.
"The problem is that we haven't had a minimum standard for what type of equipment or type of installation we want, only the specifications for pressure and supply," he told the board.
Board member Keith Cox noted that supplying money for a betterment was nothing new.
"If you think about it we've done these kinds of things before," said Cox. "We have often had a contractor putting in a six inch line and have asked that they put in an eight inch and paid for the difference."
Palmer also pointed out that some of the cost to the district could be done in kind by offsetting some of the labor on the stations construction.
Board member Karl Hous-keeper suggested that the panel approve paying for half the overage. But because the project has only an estimated cost, PRWID should set a limit and require board approval before additional money is paid.
"I also want to add to that this is a onetime thing and we won't supplement other projects in this way," said Hous-keeper. "We need specifications for the construction details from now on so that developers know what they need to do."
The board subsequently voted to pay half of the extended cost.
"I feel this move is very fair and now I look forward to getting this project done," said Lee at the end of the meeting.
Introducing an unrelated matter, Palmer presented a sewer extension request from John and Paula O'Green of Carbonville.
A similar project is taking place nearby, so Palmer had the contractor estimate the costs on extending the line to the requested area.
"We have all these sewer line projects going on right now and there may be some money left over from them to do this one," noted Palmer. "This would connect up a number of homes in the area and the residents have said that if we can't come up with the money they could and then would ask for reimbursement as others build in the area and hook up."
But the board appeared reluctant to have PRWID put in the position of collecting money from one party to pay another.
Concerns regarding the related cost also arose.
"At the thousands of dollars it costs to do this, we are looking at $4,000 per home to put this in," stated Rigby.
The district had previously opted to do the "cheap" projects, pointed out Palmer. Now, all extensions are the more expensive projects.
Septic tanks are failing at a number of homes in the requested expansion area, explained assistant PRWID manager Jeff Richens.
"There is one home there that has had three perc tests," said Richens. The tests determine whether the soil can work as a drain field for septic systems.
"Two of the three tests have failed and the one they did on the west side of the home was all right until the owners of that field started to irrigate. If we don't fix these when we can, the health department and the state are going to be coming to us and asking us to do it anyway," added Richens.
The board agreed to consider the request if money was left over after construction on the current project is completed.