MODESTO — Modesto Irrigation Districts newly constituted board is poised to award a $3.7 million contract correcting most of the remaining problems with the botched expansion of a water-treatment plant serving Modesto water customers.
Todays meeting will be the first for three recently elected members: Paul Campbell, John Mensinger and Jake Wenger. They will join the boards chairman, Nick Blom, and vice chairman, Larry Byrd, although choosing new officers for 2014 will be the first item on the agenda.
Faulty design and construction are partly blamed for pushing the price of the expansion nearly $45 million higher than initially planned, to an estimated total of $107.5 million. The work is expected to finish in 2015 six years late and a lawsuit between the MID and City Hall over who should cover a shortfall of $9 million or so has yet to be decided.
Two weeks ago, both sides announced a temporary funding plan to keep construction and repairs on track, with the city putting the first $11 million into a holding account and the MID covering any further costs. A mutually approved reference judge, who will be a retired judge or neutral attorney, eventually will decide which side owes what.
The MID board in March agreed to spend the first $5.9 million having Auburn Constructors Inc. correct problems with walls and connections to steel roof pieces, and filtering membranes. Today, the board will consider adding $3.7 million to that contract for a total of $9.6 million already eclipsing the $9 million shortfall cited by both sides for several months.
But thats not all.
The MID board today also will discuss whether to request bids for upgrading badly vibrating valves, expected to cost $707,000, for a new shortfall estimate of $10.3 million.
The board additionally will consider combining that bid request with construction of a new pipeline allowing water to bypass holding reservoirs under certain conditions. Thats expected to cost an extra $1.8 million, but isnt related to the shoddy work; the MID is offering the city a loan plus a substantial energy rebate and predicts that savings from not having to pump water from the reservoirs will pay for the added expense in about six years, a report says.
The MIDs lawsuit warned that utility customers would be on the hook for the shortfall and both sides warned that additional delays could push it to as much as $18 million. But Mayor Garrad Marsh two weeks ago said rate increases are not likely because the city will save money by refinancing a loan and from not having to pump as much groundwater when the plant expansion is done.
The plant near Waterford opened in 1994. Modesto and the MID agreed in 2005 to more than double plant capacity from 30 million gallons of water per day to 66 million gallons. The city mixes that with well water before sending it to Modesto taps, and also has water customers in Empire, Salida, Waterford, Hickman, Grayson, Del Rio and small parts of Ceres and Turlock.
The MID board is scheduled to review the lawsuit today behind closed doors, plus three other potential lawsuits involving unidentified parties. Board members will evaluate the performance of general manager Roger VanHoy in closed session as well.
Also, the board will consider saying goodbye to TriStar Risk Management, a company managing the districts worker compensation claims for 11 years, in favor of a new three-year contract with JT2 Integrated Resources. Terms would save the district up to $8,900 a year, but the district would have to pay a one-time file-conversion fee of $6,000, a report says.
The MIDs 411 employees generate about 20 worker compensation claims each year.
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2390.