City OKs $600K sewer contract


By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Elizabeth City City Council on Monday awarded a contract worth more than $600,000 to make sewer overflows a thing of the past around Parkview Drive.

Council voted unanimously to hire Enviro-Tech Unlimited Construction Services for $605,702 to complete the Parkview Interceptor Storm Resiliency Improvement Project. The city will also pay another $41,250 to Eastern Carolina Engineering for supervising the project.

Enviro-Tech, which is based in Powells Point, will install a new, larger sewer line from Parkview Drive to a pump station at Grace Drive, and it should start its work in about a month, according to City Manager Rich Olson. the firm will also install a new pump and replace another.

Amanda Boone, assistant director of public utilities, explained the project to council during its finance committee meeting last week. The small, winding sewer lines around Parkview Drive handle major volumes from southern parts of Elizabeth City, and have needed an upgrade for a while.

“This particular point and manhole in Parkview has overflowed numerous times in our history, especially during rain events,” she said. “It brings a low of flow coming in from the Coast Guard base and developments out at that side of town.”

City officials’ only concern with the project is its cost: the city received a grant last year from the Golden LEAF Foundation for more than $476,000 to cover the project. That leaves the city on the hook for about $171,000 of the cost.

Assistant City Manager Angela Cole told council last week the city expected the grant to cover the entire project, but Enviro-Tech’s bid came in much higher than expected. The Currituck-based firm was also the only bidder on the project.

Cole said the city has asked for additional grant funding. However, if a grant doesn’t come through, the city has $350,000 in this year’s water-sewer budget to apply to the extra costs. That money was set aside for debt payments on the city’s Nexgrid “smart grid” system, but that project remains on hold while the city tries to upgrade its utility billing system.

Responding to questions from councilors, Boone explained that Enviro-Tech is taking the least-costly approach to installing the new line. It will use a “pilot bore” to tunnel the line into place, rather than digging a very deep trench, she said.

In a followup interview Wednesday, Olson said the city’s engineering cost estimates expected the pilot bore to be cheaper, but Enviro-Tech expected it would be costly to de-water a ditch along the new route. The bore’s costs are the “lion’s share” of the extra expense, he said.

Olson also said he hoped to hear next week whether Golden LEAF would provide additional grant dollars.

In another but separate infrastructure-related expense, council also agreed Monday to accept a $90,000 state grant for the city’s Tiber Creek Watershed Master Plan. Boone said engineering firm AECOM will study the watershed, provide better data on infrastructure and help the city prioritize projects to reduce flooding. The watershed includes a large part of Ehringhaus Street, she noted.

The $90,000 grant requires a $90,000 match from the city. Olson said the city’s stormwater fund currently has more than $1 million, allowing it to easily cover the match.