FELLSMERE — The much anticipated expansion of the Fellsmere water treatment plant is progressing, along with the addition of fluoride.
The Fellsmere City Council approved spending an extra $31,000 to get the project done, which is expected to wrap up before the end of the year. The city received a $62,000 grant for expanding the treatment plant to include fluoridating the water. The City Council has approved spending an additional $31,000 to build a better structure and accommodate unforeseen electrical work.
“I think we’re fortunate in getting the 62 (thousand dollars),” said engineer Earl Masteller of the state grant, explaining that the city had requested even more funds to cover unexpected expenses.
However, Masteller explained, the state did not allow for the extra funds under its grant.
The state typically has a total of $150,000 available each year to allocate to three projects, averaging to $50,000 per project. Most of those projects, according to Masteller, are simple equipment installations in an existing building.
“We kind of pushed the envelope on that,” Masteller said of the grant request.
The City of Fellsmere’s water plant is not under one large roof, necessitating the construction of an ancillary building.
For an extra $6,000, the Fellsmere City Council opted to build a more permanent structure, akin to the ones currently on site.
“It’s much better construction,” Finance and Utilities Director Larry Napier said, explaining that the proposed structure would have a steel frame and tin roof instead of being made of Plexiglass.
Another cost the city didn’t anticipate was the need for another emergency eye-wash and shower – a cost of $3,200. Masteller explained that they did not think they needed one when there is already a wash and shower 25 feet away.
The engineer told the council that more work needed be done on the electrical lines and pumps for the fluoridation mechanics to allow for additional flexibility. Instead of bidding the $3,000-work out, both Masteller and City Manager Jason Nunemaker agreed it would be best to have the current contractor conduct the work.
Nunemaker said that the potential savings of hiring a second contractor was not enough to risk having two contractors on site that might blame each other in the event something went wrong with the work.
“We have a good contractor,” Masteller said of Derrico Construction Corporation.
The fluoridation work is not expected to hold up the overall expansion of the city’s water plant – from about 650,000 gallons daily to more than 1.6 million gallons a day.
Fellsmere City Councilwoman Sara Savage had asked at a prior meeting if the water plant’s expansion would address water quality concerns – including the air in the water lines and the water’s color.
Masteller told her at that time the air in the lines is not coming from the water plant. However, the expansion project is expected to clear up the color issue.
He explained then that the new system would be better able to handle the chemicals used to treat the water.
The project is expected to cost approximately $1.5 million and is funded in part through grants and the Fellsmere Water Department’s funds.