Construction costs for the next phase of the city’s new drinking water system have exceeded engineering estimates, which could trigger a potential million dollar shortfall.
Council set aside $21.51 million to construct a new water intake, new pump station and treatment building. To date, $1.8 million has been spoken for with a further $886,000 committed, resulting in $18.8 million available to complete the balance of works.
But Jason Hartley, the city’s capital works manager, said it may not be enough as estimates for the balance of the work sit at $19.94 million.
“This represents a potential budget shortfall of $1.2 million,” he said, adding that the design work for the next phase of the project – the pump station and treatment building – is nearing completion and staff expect to receive an updated cost estimate for the work next week.
Ron Neufeld, the city’s general manager of operations, stressed to city council at its April 11 meeting that the numbers are not final.
“I think the important word is ‘potential,’” Neufeld said. “We’re certainly not saying with any certainty that the project is going to be over budget. At this point in time we’re simply bringing it to council’s attention.”
Neufeld said there are still 18 months of work left and $12 million worth of construction to be completed and future aspects of the project are still being designed and valued.
Mayor Andy Adams also acknowledged that the first phase of the project, which began last year, is running under budget which could help offset the second phase.
At last week’s meeting, council moved forward on the next phase, awarding construction of a deep water intake and associated wet well or caisson to Aecon Frontier Kemper Joint Venture for $7.47 million which includes a 15 per cent contingency.
Neufeld said the price came in “higher than we were anticipating” because of the specialized nature of the work.
“This particular component or phase of the project represents the most unusual or most complex piece of work and it involves not only work, but contractors and equipment that are not commonplace so it’s not particularly surprising that this piece of the project comes with…the most amounts of variable in the final costs,” Neufeld said.
The city has elected to go with a trenchless system that requires specialized resources. A micro-tunnelling boring machine launched from a well will drill a new water pipe from the caisson directly into John Hart Lake roughly 12 metres below the lake’s water surface level.
The next step in the project will be the pump station and water treatment building with construction on that phase expected to get underway this October and lasting one year.
The city is facing strict time constraints to get the project done. Under an agreement with BC Hydro – which has committed to pay 75 per cent of the project costs – the new system has to be up and running by the end of December, 2017 before Hydro turns the taps off.
The system needs to be in place by the end of 2017 as BC Hydro will be cutting off the city’s water supply in January of 2018.
Hydro is removing the three penstocks that currently deliver the city’s drinking water from John Hart Lake as part of its John Hart Generating Station replacement project.
To date, the city has largely completed phase one of the project – the installation of approximately two kilometres of welded steel water main pipe running underground between the city’s water chlorination facility and the intersection of Brewster Lake Road and Highway 28.
Coun. Larry Samson said the project, once complete, will take Campbell River “into the future” while Adams said the new system will be a lasting legacy.
“The deal that we’re getting here is that we’re going to have a seismically brand-new, state-of-the-art, dedicated water supply.”