By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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City Council members approved a $1.56 million contract with Vanir Construction Management 6-1 Tuesday night, with Councilwoman Sissi Bruch opposed.
Bruch said she would not support the contract because she still has issues with how the city’s combined sewer overflow abatement effort, or CSO project, has been designed.
“But I guess I’m in an odd position, [where] I philosophically disagree with the design solution, but I totally agree with the idea of getting a construction management person,” Bruch said.
Vanir Construction Management also oversaw construction of the first phase of the project.
The CSO project aims to reduce sewage and wastewater overflows into Port Angeles Harbor by increasing sewer and stormwater capacity between downtown and the city’s wastewater treatment plant near the former Rayonier mill site.
Heavy rains can cause overflows by overwhelming city sewer lines, forcing excess water into the harbor through four outfalls.
The last major such release was in March, when heavy rains forced some 6 million gallons of rain water and sewage into the harbor over two days.
The state Department of Ecology is requiring the city to reduce combined sewer overflows or face fines.
However, if funding can’t be found, the second phase would be put on hold. Vanir will not be paid until it does the work.
City public works staff are banking on a $12 million state revolving fund loan to pay for the majority of the second phase of the CSO project, estimated to cost about $18.5 million overall.
City Engineer Mike Puntenney has said if the loan is approved, the city plans to offer bidding on the project in August.
The city would repay the loan at roughly 2.7 percent interest over 20 years, Puntenney said.
If the loan is not approved, City Manager Dan McKeen said, the city’s agreement with Ecology to complete the project allows the city to delay until low-interest state loans can be secured.
“It looks like we’ll be getting a state revolving fund loan, and if we don’t, we will not be moving forward with this phase of the project” now, McKeen said.
Funding also will come from money accumulated through a CSO charge on city resident utility bills. The amount for an average residential customer is $20.10 monthly.
The second phase will include an upgraded pump station to be built near the beginning of Marine Drive and pipes to connect the station with the pipes added earlier underneath Oak Street as part of the $16.7 million first phase of the project, according to the city.
Phase one work included retrofitting a 5 million-gallon storage tank the city bought on the former Rayonier mill property to hold untreated stormwater and sewage during heavy rains until it can be treated in the city’s wastewater-treatment plant near the former mill site.
“Vanir proved highly capable in their accomplishments in the first phase of the CSO project,” Puntenney said at Tuesday’s meeting.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.