Sewer project moves forward

Officials estimate current stage at two-thirds finished

— The city is about two-thirds of the way toward completion of the current phase of its long-term sewer renovation project.

Buno Construction, which was awarded the contract for the first two phases of the renovation project, is making progress on Phase 2, City Administrator Ralph Malone said.

Due to the state Department of Transport-ation’s planned 2014 paving project for state Highway 215, Buno Construction is facing a “hard deadline” of this spring.

“That contract is supposed to be completed by the first of April 2014,” Malone said.

The plan is for construction to continue throughout the winter, but “weather can overcome the most determined of contractors,” Malone said.

The speed of construction will be determined, in part, by the severity of the upcoming winter in Okanogan County.

The city has been communicating with the state Department of Transportation to coordinate the grind-and-pave project with the completion of the sewer renovation project to minimize both construction times and destruction of the streets.

Malone said City Council has authorized the state Department of Transportation to do the majority of its grinding and paving work at night to reduce the impact on traffic and local businesses.

Malone said he is aware that the noise will cause some disruption to local residents, but the plan is to minimize that effect as much as possible.

Once Phase 2 of the sewer renovation project is complete, work will slow down.

“Essentially, we have exhausted our available funds,” Malone said.

Malone said more work will still need to be done in the future, but the most critical areas will be complete in 2014.

“I belive that we will have taken care of all of the portions of our system that could have a catastrophic failure and create a problem we can’t handle,” he said.

Much of the remaining work will be able to wait until funding is determined. His recommendation for the city is to avoid borrowing money to pay for the next phases of the project.

Instead, he believes the best approach will be to save money from the current sewer rates to pay for the projects. Malone said that will be a much slower process, but also a more financially sound approach to the problem.

Omak’s sewer renovation project dates back to a pair of major sewer line breaks that revealed how bad the entire system was.

The first break came in 2009; the second in 2011.

In 2012, the first phase of the contract was awarded for a cost of $500,000.

It was completed in spring of 2013.

Phase 2A includes all the work that is under Main Street and Fourth Avenue.

The contract for the second phase of sewer renovation was $4.28 million.

The total cost of Omak’s long-term renovation project is estimated at $23 million.

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