The cost to install a new generator at Collingwood’s wastewater treatment plant is about 40 per cent higher than originally estimated during budget deliberations.
Peggy Slama, manager of environmental services for the town, approached the development and operations services standing committee on July 16 requesting permission to access an additional $650,000 from the wastewater reserves to pay for the new generator.
Currently, the wastewater treatment plant has an 800 kW diesel generator, which provides standby power to the plant in the event of a power outage.
Slama said it keeps enough of the system online to handle the wastewater coming into the plant and to prevent backups on residential properties.
The current generator required a major repair in 2015, to the tune of $118,373.
Slama said the time has come to replace the generator before something else happens to it to warrant emergency replacement or repair.
The 2019 capital budget included $830,000 for a new generator, which was based on an early estimate of the cost of a replacement generator.
However, after an open-market bid process for construction and installation, the town received five submissions with the lowest bid coming in at $1.37 million (or about 40 per cent higher than initial estimates). The highest bid came in at $1.8 million.
The work would include a new generator and some upgrades to the electrical and mechanical components of the building where the generator is housed.
A further, more detailed engineer’s report stated the new generator could be smaller (600 kW) and still meet the needs of the wastewater treatment plant, thanks to more energy efficient processes.
Slama said the additional funds ($650,000) are available in the wastewater reserves, which are generated by user fees, not taxation.
She called the work “proactive replacement of critical infrastructure.”
Slama's report stated the department was implementing further checks and balances for the capital procurement process, which would include an engineer's estimate prior to going to tender. Staff would then approach council for an increase in budget, if necessary, before the releasing a call for bids.
The new generator can be used when the wastewater treatment plant is expanded in the future, and the old generator can be sold online via an online government surplus auction site.The standing committee approved the increased budget request, but the final approval will have to come from council at its meeting July 22.