By Tim Eberly
Providing quality water takes time, which is precisely what Dave Peterson, the director of public works, received at Monday's Havre City Council meeting.
In the process of overseeing an $8 million renovation project at the water treatment plant in Havre, Peterson requested and was unanimously granted a nine-month extension for the project. The extension, which moves the project completion date from Oct. 31 to July 31, will cost the city an estimated $220,000 in engineering and inspection costs.
"I think everybody would come out the loser if we didn't extend it," Mayor Phyllis Leonard said today. "I think that we will proceed as committed."
The extension became necessary when the contractor, Williams Brothers Construction of Billings, failed to meet the design requirements for the concrete mix, Peterson said. The extension will give the contractor more time to meet the standards.
Since October, Williams Brothers has submitted more than 10 batches of concrete mix for testing, and all were rejected, John Williams, general manager of Williams Brothers, said in an interview.
"They had some fairly stringent mix requirements, more so than the typical project that we see," Williams said. "We've never been through this battery of testing in 25 years."
Originally an 18-month plan, the overall project will expand the water storage capability from 4 million to 6 million gallons, install two additional sets of water filters, update some existing equipment and move several of the water basins. And the project will be that much closer to completion when the concrete mix meets the engineers' standards, Peterson said.
"It's a mix that's used for submerged structures," Peterson said after Monday night's meeting. Williams Brothers Construction "did not meet the requirements of the concrete project. Usually, you don't have delays of this length."
Each time the concrete mix was tested, the results were different, Williams said, but the main issue was the amount of shrinkage in the concrete when it dried. Williams said the original concrete mix would have worked to satisfaction.
"The quality of the concrete is what's at issue," Williams said. "I believe we are providing an extremely high-quality product. Our early tests were extremely close to the requirements."
The City Council also granted the water treatment plant permission to purchase a generator, which would provide back-up electricity during blackouts. Purchase of a generator was included in the original project plan, but the city didn't have enough money for it. The water treatment plant has $60,000 budgeted for the cost of the $130,000 generator and could dip into water line replacement funds for the rest.