Paso Robles' sewer upgrade is slated to begin next month after the City Council on Tuesday awarded a $36.4 million construction contract to Fresno-based firm W.M. Lyles Co.
The firm was the lowest responsible bid of six offers the city received Jan. 23. A responsible bid means a firm meets certain requirements for the job such as having the financial resources and previous project experience to complete the work.
When Mayor Duane Picanco asked whether any local firms were considered, wastewater manager Matt Thompson said no local companies had the bonding capacity needed for such a large project, but the Fresno company is looking to employ local subcontractors where it can.
The overall project is slated to bring up to 150 jobs at its peak, Thompson added. Construction is expected to wrap up in September 2015.
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The work is needed to modernize the 59-year-old plant and stop chemical waste pollution in the Salinas River, which has prompted costly state fines to the city.
Other professional services bring the project to a total of $47 million.
Overall, the work came in about $3 million under budget, which the council and public in attendance spoke favorably for Tuesday.
"This is exceptional good news tonight. We all take sewer systems for granted, they're not sexy," resident Kathy Barnett said. "And the penalties and fees we pay – that’s going to disappear."
The pollution fines — largely due to its discharge of salts, nitrates, disinfection byproducts — have brought an average monthly levy of $6,000 to $9,000 to the city.
The plant was built in 1954 and has seen small expansions in 1972 and 1989.