PUC will spend $2 million for three separate projects

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The Chatham-Kent Public Utilities Commission will be spending a little more than $2 million to upgrade wastewater facilities, replace maintenance hole covers and add some office space.

Three tenders were approved during the PUC’s monthly meeting on Nov. 19, with the largest being a roughly $1.5-million contract awarded to Selectra Inc. of Stratford to upgrade three standby generators.

PUC general manager Tim Sunderland told commissioners that generators at the Wheatley and Tilbury wastewater treatment plants and the Wallaceburg Napier Street Sewage Pump Station must be replaced.

Noting the generators range in age from 35 to 50 years old, Sunderland said standby generators at the Wheatley and Tilbury plants aren’t providing enough power to reach treatment capacity.

He said the Wallaceburg pump station is also under powered.

“It’s also getting hard to find parts and pieces and to continue maintenance on them,” Sunderland said.

He said there was a “hiccup” in the original tender, with all bids being rejected for being non-compliant, because they were received after the closing date.

According to the PUC’s bylaw, the utility has the right to renegotiate with any contractor, so it was decided to contract Selectra to ask for a new price, Sunderland said.

“This is a 2020 project that we’re sliding into 2021,” Sunderland said. “Like everything else in COVID, everything moves a little bit slower, but it will be paid for out of the 2020 and 2021 lifecycle budget.”

Commissioner Jamie McGrail cited a line in the report that noted two of the generators being replaced are suspected to have asbestos insulation material, raising health and safety concerns.

She asked if removing the asbestos is covered in the approved tender.

Sunderland said it is.

The commission also approved a $287,987.69 contract for Birnam Excavating Ltd of Arkona to undertake a rehabilitation project for 162 maintenance hole covers in Chatham.

But the PUC will only be paying $165,724.67 of the cost.

“Out of the 162 covers, only 93 are PUC assets and that’s what the PUC is paying for out of this tender,” Sunderland said.

The remaining covers are for storm sewers, which are the responsibility of Chatham-Kent public works.

Noting the work will take place in the spring, Sunderland said the maintenance holes that can be seen in Chatham-Kent with a “white circle around them with an ‘X’ … are going to be adjusted and moved in the spring.”

A $297,313.17 contract to renovate the PUC-owned McGeorge Building was awarded to Chatham’s Westhoek Construction Ltd.

Sunderland said the renovation is part of a reorganization plan approved by the commission last November.

“We added additional staff here at the main office so we needed a little bit more office space,” he said.

Space was available in the warehouse that had previously been given to the Chatham-Kent museum department to use for storage, he added.

The renovation includes adding two new offices and an open space with room for eight desks, Sunderland said.

He said the PUC rents part of its warehouse to the municipality’s records department and Chatham-Kent police service, which provides an annual income $61,008.13.

“This will offset the cost of the construction over time.”

Sunderland said there will be some more warehouse space available when this renovation is completed that can be rented out to the records department or another municipal group to generate more revenue.

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