Sunday, August 09, 2015

City Seeks Engineering Contractors & Water Master Plan Consultant

New City Engineer Russell Pehl and recently promoted Water Utilities Assistant Director Allison Strube face huge engineering demands as the City of San Angelo races to make up for lost decades in infrastructure upgrades and maintenance.  Both promotions came from within at a time when the city has struggled to recruit and retain engineering talent.  Pehl served as the Water Utilities engineer and Assistant Director Water Utilities prior to his promotion, while Strube worked as a project engineer before jumping to Water Utilities. 

The City put out two Request for Qualifications, one for Infrastructure Engineering and Surveying Services and another for a Water Master Plan.

The RFQ stated contracts will be awarded to a pool of 3-5 engineering firms in each area of expertise specified.  Under term the city seeks an engineering contract for five years, with up to three two-year extension, a possible extension of six more years.  The city's engineering shopping list is rather comprehensive.

The anticipated scope of services shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

• Train applicable City staff about the project details including applications, materials, and processes
• Prepare, attend, and present items or presentations to City staff or City Council
• Consultation, design, engineering, drafting, planning, and costing processes relating to Infrastructure Services
o Streets and street-related infrastructure to include curbing, pavement rehabilitation or replacement, sidewalks, lighting, and traffic control
o Water infrastructure to include rehabilitation or replacement of water mains, valves, fire hydrants, and water lines
o Sewer infrastructure to include rehabilitation or replacement of sewer mains, manholes, and sewer lines
o Surveying services to include GPS and conventional surveying
o Traffic study will examine the suitability of proposed improvements and analyze direct and indirect impacts related to the enactment of proposed improvements in support of the city’s transportation plans and needs. 
o Utility coordination of existing and proposed franchise utilities with utility, public, and private agencies.
• Public notice and public hearing assistance 
• Other duties as appropriate relating to Infrastructure/Capital Improvement Project (CIP) Services

The Water Master Plan engagement is only for one year but it's engineering heavy in content.

The City of San Angelo Water Utilities Department is seeking a response to this Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a qualified consulting firm, with their team, to furnish a water master plan to include: 

• a water system model compatible with the City’s existing GIS software 
• determine projected water demands, hydraulic analyses and capacity requirements and provide Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) update 
• Master Plan Report and Council Presentation(s)
The Water Master Plan document did not mention the West Texas Water Partnership, a regional group the city supports financially for water master planning.

Both of these RFQ engagements should be pricey for a city with limited numbers of experienced engineers.  Executive Director of Public Works Ricky Dickson is the czar over all these major projects.  He's been scarce from City Council meetings since his promotion.

Ricky Dickson, director of the city’s water utilities department, will be promoted to the new role of executive director of public works in a move that reorganizes the City Council’s top two priorities — water and streets.

The move takes advantage of Dickson’s managerial experience in the two departments he will oversee — water utilities and operations, according to a city news release.

Dickson assumes his new role Nov. 1, 2014.  Dickson’s new position allows a sharper focus on planning and implementing infrastructure improvements, particularly those involving water. 
Some citizens recall Ricky's prior implementation of street maintenance and new water meters.  Both were substandard. The water meter project was to have been completed by 2015  Somehow the project went from 65% complete in the 2013-18 Capital Improvement Plan to 50% complete in the 2014-19 version.  The city sought bids on 3,200 more Neptune water meters with HD Supply the apparent winner.

I believe Ricky's term as leader of streets, water and engineering department cost area citizens greatly.  We stand to pay dearly San Angelo's leadership longstanding neglect and inattention to our streets and water infrastructure.  We will pay even more for our inability to recruit and retain qualified engineering staff, a more recent phenomena. 

Update 9-6-16:  A year later finds the Water Master Plan lingering as staff did not narrow the vendors for the Water Advisory Board to CDM Smith until May 2016.

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