Majority of work complete at Potsdam pollution control facility
Wednesday, April 17, 2019 - 1:38 pm

By CRAIG FREILICH
North Country This Week

POTSDAM -- The village government has heard another update about the $17 million water pollution control facility and pump station upgrade project advising them that the work is about 67.9% complete.

Matt Cooper, senior managing engineer at Barton and Loguidice, told trustees at their April 15 meeting that while there have been some setbacks due to delays, and more delays are possible “there are no major issues.”

Major components of the job that have been completed are the foundations for the administration building garage addition and setting the ultraviolet light banks and hydraulic control equipment. Meanwhile installation of stainless steel pipe in the digester building is proceeding. Heron Construction Co. LLC, based in Virginia with an office in Jordan, N.Y., is general contractor.

Cooper estimates the HVAC contract work on the job is about 84% complete. Burns Bros. Contractors of Syracuse has worked on an air handling unit in the digester building and is installing natural gas piping in the digester building boiler room.

Watson Electric of Norwood is handling electrical aspects of the job, which Cooper estimates are about 52.5% complete. It includes installation of electrical panels in the administration building and taking out the old panel in the digester building boiler room. They are working on wiring the backup generator.

While the electrical work might appear to be behind the other work, Cooper said its progress is subject to the pace of general construction work. He said it’s like “open heart surgery, keeping the patient alive while we do the work.”

Cooper reiterated his advisory that the majority of contingency funds allotted to the project, $1.2 million, are unused and could be used to address aspects of the work that have materialized since the work began. For instance some of it was applied to breaking up bedrock that was in the way and had not been detected earlier.

As he reported in March (see earlier story here), the remaining funds could be used to pay down loans, but that would only result in saving $7 per year per user over the course of the loan portion of the funding.

He noted that whatever supplemental work they want could be done with those funds under the current contract, but if it expires before the money is applied, they would have to endure a whole new round of bids and approvals.

Some of that money might have to applied to extra administrative costs if the project is delayed into October.

That possibility has arisen in light of one valve contractor’s difficulty in sorting out a steel supply. If they are forced to use non-American steel, they might have to get a government clearance, Cooper said.

“In May of last year, we gave the valve manufacturer the shop drawings, and they still have not delivered the valves,” Cooper said.

Another delay could result from the timing of rehabilitating the two aeration tanks. One of the two must be operating while the other is out of commission. One would easily be worked on when the village population is down during college summer recess, and be finished before they get back, but the second tank could take longer, into October, he said.

“It depends on how fast the work goes,” Cooper said.