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Front Page » Top Stories » Haste On Sewagetreatment Project Would Create Budget Waste Official Says

Haste On Sewagetreatment Project Would Create Budget Waste Official Says

Written by on November 30, 2006

By Dan Dolan
A waste-water treatment plant needed to head off a countywide building moratorium could be completed quicker but not cheaper if both phases of the $1.1 billion project are built concurrently, Miami-Dade County officials say.

Douglas Yoder, deputy director of the county’s water and sewer department, said this week that building both phases of the new Goulds-Perrine facility together would add about $24 million to the project’s total cost and shave a year off the completion date.

Plans to meet a state-imposed clean-water order call for the project to be divided into two $550 million phases:

NConstruction of a deep water-well super-cleaner with a new chlorine factory and electric power station at the sewage-treatment plant. This phase, expected to get under way in about 18 months, would be completed by 2011, two years later than the state deadline.

NThe addition of a second state-ordered treatment facility at the site to further purify and reuse waste water. This phase has no firm start or completion date. However, county officials say it could be a decade before the second stage comes on line.

In an effort to meet the state deadline, save time and money and avoid a building ban, county commissioners last month asked the water department to analyze potential benefits of a combined project.

"The results were a bit surprising," Mr. Yoder said. "We’d be spending about $24 million more to save a year’s worth of time."

Even though the county might save potential increases in construction costs by building Phase 2 now, Mr. Yoder said, money would be eaten by interest on loans needed to finance construction. He also said the county would be forced to buy property across the street from the existing plant because the work site is too small to hold all the equipment needed for a combined project.

"While time pressure is a factor, we don’t expect anyone to impose a building moratorium as long as we are showing good faith by making progress on the water-treatment sites. So for the moment, I don’t think that fear is justified," Mr. Yoder said, referring to a South Florida Water Management District pledge to put a cap on the county’s water usage if the county fails to pursue alternative groundwater sources.

Commissioner Carlos A. Gimenez, one of the officials who asked for the report, wasn’t satisfied with the department’s analysis.

"I think they need to rethink their calculations and economic assumptions," he said. "I think there is a better approach to it. I have asked them to get back to me in another week. If the final answer is we won’t save time and money, we’ll move on."