It’s good to have options. That was the sentiment that led the Virgin Valley Water District directors to decline the two bids received for construction of the Northwest Water Tank, a project that has been pending for almost six years.
In 2014 the prospect of constructing an additional tank to serve development in the Sun City area was analyzed. The decision at that time was to go forward with construction of a two-million-gallon concrete tank, expecting it to require less maintenance with greater life expectancy than a steel tank.
That tank project was sidelined over the years due to more pressing construction projects such as a second pipeline under the Virgin River that protects the downtown area from the possibility of water outage in case of failure of the single pipeline that connected wells to the community.
There were also some delays in the acquisition of land needed to site the tank that would serve the high elevation areas north of the freeway. Low water pressure has plagued some neighborhoods, and that problem needs to be corrected as VVWD prepares to bring in more water from its next well to be drilled in Lincoln County.
Now, as Sun City adds hundreds of homes, the need for the Northwest Water Tank comes to the fore, and VVWD staff has steadily worked to move the tank project forward.
A bid for construction was let in early December. The solicitation for bids snared two construction companies that could fit it into their frenetic schedule during a red-hot building market. But it would come at a price: the two bids came in at $3.5 million and $3.8 million, over 30 percent higher than anticipated in the tank budget. VVWD engineer Tyler Young laid out this situation for the board of directors at their Jan. 7 meeting.
The board, on recommendation from Young and district manager Kevin Brown, chose to decline the two bids and step back to the option of constructing a steel tank, expecting costs to run about $1 million less.
Staff will reopen bidding for a steel tank and expects to report back Jan. 21 with results from that bid. The district is currently served by two steel tanks of the same general type. They have been serviceable for well over 25 years, indicating that steel is a reasonable alternative.
With construction costs recently inflated 25-30 percent due to higher steel prices and labor costs, it remains to be seen what savings will results in a steel tank re-bid.
It was the general consensus among board members that the end of year bid timing for the water tank was part of the cause of its steep price tag, but they do not anticipate much price relief for future projects because of the competition for contractors in the current building boom across the area.
Manager Brown updated the board on expansion plans for the VVWD headquarters building. He indicated that remodel work on the conference room will begin at the end of February, prompting a temporary move of board meetings to Bunkerville.
The project will entail remodeling the current facilities to better house personnel and the customer service area and add a new conference room. Public notice of the location of scheduled meetings will be given in February.
In other business, the five VVWD directors elected their officers for 2020. Director Rich Bowler led off the nominations saying, “If it’s not broke, don’t change it,” as he proposed to keep the same slate of officers who served in 2019. On a unanimous vote of the board, director Nephi Julien is retained as president, director Ben Davis is vice president, and staff member Mary Johnson continues as secretary to the board. Other VVWD directors include Richard Bowler, Travis Anderson and John Burrows.