Council concerned with consulting costs for water system expansion - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Council concerned with consulting costs for water system expansion

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -- It will cost Sioux City over $40 million to expand its water system, but it's the consulting fees that council members are concerned about.

City officials expect to spend 16% of the project's cost on design and inspection of a new plant going up south of the airport.

Monday night, a member of the Kansas City consulting firm Black & Veatch explained that the city isn't using a standard approach, and the special filtration system it's purchased will increase the cost

"There's several different manufacturers, and each one provides a different piece of equipment that you have to design around. So, it was important for us to actually select the membrane filtration system first and then design around that system for the final design," said Jim Winger of Black & Veatch.

That filtration system provides a physical barrier to prevent pathogens from getting into the water.

Building a second plant gives Sioux City room to grow, potentially doubling the capacity of its drinking water system. It's also necessary to meet Iowa DNR requirements.

In order to meet those requirements, Sioux City has to upgrade its current water treatment plant on Zenith Drive.

The city has decided to use an outside consulting firm from Minneapolis for the project, drawing sharp criticism from members of the council.

City staff say they go with the most experienced and economical bidder and that often means out-of-town consultants, engineering firms, contractors, and construction crews.

Council members want city staff to keep the money in Siouxland.

"It's in the millions of dollars tonight, of money that's going out of town, and if there are consultants that want to do business in Sioux City, we've got plenty of office space downtown. They can move to Sioux City and open an office," says city councilman John Fitch.

"We hear you loud and clear, and on our next design project we will weigh heavier on the selection process for local firms," says water plant superintendent Rick Mach.

Public Works director Chris Payer says a significant volume of work is done locally, but more money goes out of town because Sioux City firms don't have the expertise that may be required on the more costly projects.

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