MERRIMAC — Comprehensive Environmental Inc. (CEI) of Marlborough was named to provide design, bid and construction phase services for the Attitash Wastewater Pump Station Rehabilitation project at Monday’s meeting of the Board of Selectmen.
With a proposed bid totaling $215,200 for a comprehensive suite of engineering services, CEI was an easy — and welcome — choice when compared with SGC Engineering’s most recent $393,000 proposal.
The action came just one week after a meeting with representatives of SGC Engineering, LLC of Westbrook, Maine, whose efforts to justify increasing costs for routine work on the town’s water projects were met with anger and disbelief.
John Riordan, who is the senior project manager for SGC Engineering’s work on the water projects, is also the town’s acting DPW director.
Originally budgeted at $126,000, SGC’s proposed budget of $393,000 for managing the work was an increase of nearly 68 percent.
Riordan, in his dual role, bills the town in both capacities. The potential for conflict of interest represented by this arrangement has been a continual source of conflict and confusion, requiring repeated explanations of SGC charges, billing policies and procedures.
Selectmen wasted no time in unanimously approving the CEI presentation by Michael P. Ohl, P.E., who will serve as senior project manager for the project.
Beyond cost, CEI’s proposal for the Attitash Avenue Water Booster Pump Station project appears to offer a singular advantage over the earlier proposal by SGC, which had called for subterranean booster pumps.
“The existing design is all below grade,” said Ohl, “and we have serious concerns about its ability to maintain adequate pressure.”
Instead, the CEI proposal specifies a trio of above-ground pump stations housed in pre-cast concrete buildings. This significant design difference reportedly offers many important advantages, including easier installation, maintenance and leak repair, while also facilitating future system upgrades.
Ohl added that his firm’s design would also incorporate a hydropneumatic tank to maintain steady, adequate pressure, while also minimizing pump operation for longer equipment life and reduced incidence of leaks.
Instead of constructing the three pump stations simultaneously, CEI’s proposal will stagger construction to minimize disruption of the town’s water system, while saving money by combining all three facilities under a single construction contract.
When asked about experience with this type of project, Ohl said that CEI is currently working on a water project in Rhode Island that is a virtual duplicate of Merrimac’s. In addition, he noted that he has personally spent the last 25 years working solely on municipal water distribution projects.
CEI is a woman-owned company employing 25 people, and has been in business since 1987. According to company information, the firm won dual awards in 2011 as the best place to work in environmental services as well as in civil engineering.