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Wastewater treatment plant months behind schedule

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POLSON – At last week’s city commission meeting Kevin Johnson of DOWL engineering reported that the wastewater treatment plant would not be completed for “at least two more months.” The project was initially scheduled to be finished in December of 2019.

The wastewater treatment equipment is running, but other aspects of the facility have yet to be finished. Roads need to be prepared and paved, sidewalks need to be repaired, the sludge drying beds need to be installed and some piping needs to be finished. Also on the to-do list is re-vegetating the construction area with native plants.

Johnson attributed the slow pace of work to the contractor, Swank Enterprises of Kalispell, dedicating less staff than necessary for the job. 

Commissioner Brodie Moll asked why the job had not been completed. “They need to convince their subcontractor to get up here and provide the manpower they need to complete the job,” Johnson said.

Asked whether the plant itself was running well Johnson said he had some concerns. Operators didn’t make a few necessary adjustments that have caused the tanks to settle poorly in recent weeks.

Johnson said the delays in the construction timeline have disrupted DOWL’s plan for inspecting and overseeing necessary portions of the construction process. To compensate for that disruption, DOWL will charge the city for extra staff time incurred. The contractor is being assessed liquidated damages, which is a penalty charge for their failure to complete the contract on time. The city can use those funds to pay DOWL for the additional time they will have to dedicate to the project. 

DOWL has requested a change to the number of contract days agreed upon by the city. Johnson said the commission would have to make a decision about that change in the coming weeks.

Johnson assured the commission that the project would be completed in the near future. “We can see the light at the end of the tunnel so hang in there,” he said.


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