Monday, July 2nd, 2007
By Timothy Cox
Officials rethink water deadline
  The latest construction specifications for Celina's planned water treatment improvements include no deadline, even though the city faces a Dec. 31 Ohio EPA deadline to complete the project.
City development consultant Kent Bryan discussed the deadline issue with Celina City Council members late last week. Putting a deadline on contractors would likely only drive bid prices higher, Bryan said.
The city is on the second round of bidding for the project originally estimated at $4.5 million that drew a low bid of about $7.5 million. City officials scaled back on the quality of some of the equipment to be included in the plant and made other changes to reduce costs. Still, Floyd Browne Group engineering has now ratcheted its estimate for the work up to $6.75 million.
The second set of bids are to be opened July 20.
The targeted completion date is left open-ended to prospective bidders. Bryan said city officials plan to sit down with the eventual low bidder to discuss a reasonable timetable for completing the work. City officials would then discuss the deadline issue with the EPA.
"Tell us how quickly you can get us functional and we'll go from there," Bryan said.
The city originally faced a Nov. 7 deadline this year to bring the city's drinking water into compliance with EPA standards when orders to correct long-runing problems with high levels of trihalomethanes (THM) were handed down several years ago. City officials recently have said EPA officials are now indicating a Dec. 31 compliance date.
The original EPA findings and orders called for daily fines up to $25,000 for missing the deadline.
EPA officials already refused a prior attempt by city officials to get the deadline extended. At that time, an engineer with Metcalf & Eddy, Columbus, virtually guranteed he could win the city more time to consider its various improvement options. But city officials returned from Columbus empty-handed after a negotiating session there to extend the deadline.
City officials have since decided on the addition of granular activated carbon (GAC) treatment to the city's existing process. A year of pilot studies and laboratory testing indicated the carbon-based treatment method will effectively handle the city's water problem. Councilman June Scott last week called the GAC system "a big honkin' Brita filter."
The GAC is expected to reduce THM levels in the city's water to within acceptable limits. THMs form in the treated water as a reaction over time between organic material in the water drawn from Grand Lake and chlorine add to the water as a disinfectant.
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