Rogersville leaders hesitant over cost 'estimate' for water system study

Jeff Bobo • Feb 10, 2019 at 10:30 PM

ROGERSVILLE — The first step toward bringing the Rogersville Water Department back into state compliance regarding its levels of disinfectant byproduct will be a study of the water system that will cost at least $49,725.

On Tuesday, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen postponed approval of a water system study contract with Vaughan and Melton Consulting Engineers until city officials receive clarification about the final cost.

In December, interim water Superintendent Bill Pearson was notified by the state that the city was being fined $7,120 for exceeding disinfectant byproduct limitations.

That fine would be reduced to $1,424, however, if the city completes a study and follows through with a subsequent corrective action plan.

The study contract includes hydraulic modeling; distribution sampling; tank assessment and sampling; analysis of the flushing program; a corrosion control assessment; a thorough analysis of the source water from the Big Creek intake, through the filer plant; and an assessment of the MIEX filtration system.

“They’re going to provide us with a study, a hydraulic model, mapping of how our water flows, water age associated with how it flows, and a form that we can determine where we may need to make improvements," Pearson told the board. “It can vary from taking one tank out or two tanks out. This report will help you determine how to manage the tanks and the distribution system and not have them manage us.”

Pearson added, “This will help us with what we need to do about our disinfectant byproducts. Water age is a big contributor to disinfectant byproducts, and we’ve got to start with a good model to know where to make improvements.”

Rogersville would also cover the cost of some sampling and will be performing some of the labor to keep the cost down.

The contract “estimates” Vaughan and Melton’s fee at $49,725.

Alderman Mark DeWitte expressed concern that the contract lists that amount as a cost estimate and includes an hourly rate.

“It just scares me when it says ‘fee estimated’ at the top and then ‘total hours,’ and you don’t really know if there’s a cap intended,” DeWitte said.

Alderman Craig Kirkpatrick said he’d like to see the contract cost “locked down” before it’s signed.

Board members agreed to get the cost clarified in the final draft of the contract, which could be presented to the BMA at an upcoming special called meeting later this month to consider applicants for water superintendent.

“They want to come in and talk to you about what they’re proposing,” Pearson told the board. “It would be beneficial to you all to have them explain it to you.”

After the study is completed, Rogersville must submit a CAP (corrective action plan) and implement it within one year of its approval by the state.

Disinfection byproducts can form when water treatment disinfectants, such as chlorine, react with naturally present compounds in water.

Rogersville exceeded the state limit for TTHM (total trihalomethanes) in the first, second and third quarters of 2018 as well as exceeding HAA5 (haloacetic acids) in the first, second and third quarters of 2016.


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