March 24, 2023

Water main project contingent on deadline pushback

With the 12 Mile intake and 12 Mile Water treatment plant upgrade project, painting the east tower and replacements at the water plant, Creston Water Works General Manager Steve Guthrie told Creston City Council Tuesday there’s no more money in this budget year.

A project, originally funded by a $500,000 CBDG grant, to replace water mains in the 100, 200 and 300 block of North Maple Street, has hit a road bump as bids came in 40% more for the water main work and 15% more for the surface work than what was budgeted.

The project sits at about $870,000 and is also funded by $100,000 from Creston Water Works and $27,579 from the city of Creston. This leaves a $240,584 shortfall of funding.

“We have $3.5 to $3.6 million worth of capital improvements we are doing this year,” Guthrie told the council. “We simply do not have $240,000 in our budget to pick up the shortfall.”

While Guthrie said they would have more dollars available in the next budget year, the CBDG grant sunsets on May 31, 2023. They are unsure if that date is when the project must be complete or it will still be valid if construction is still ongoing at that time.

Austin Smith of Garden and Associates, which engineered the project, brought forward the cost savings options he has researched.

“We’re kind of between a rock and a hard place on the valve insertions,” he said. “The issue with Adams Street in particular, there’s no good place to isolate this main from essential Fareway to past Division. So you have four or five blocks essentially in no man’s land if we did a shut down and cut in instead of using insertion valves.”

Smith said if it was only a one block area, that would be less of an issue; however, this would be five blocks down plus a couple blocks deep.

“If it all went perfect, you’re going to save $40,000 to $50,000 on valves - it’s just a matter of if it all went perfect,” Smith said. “And if not, you’re going to extend where someone is out of service for water at off-peak hours. So we’re talking like at night or some time off of normal business hours for this to take place.”

Guthrie said the tricky part is dealing with infrastructure from 1890. “It’s not fair to the other uptown businesses in my opinion because if things don’t go well, you could be three days without water, and what does that do to their business?” he said.

The other way Smith uncovered to reduce costs would be to have the city complete the brickwork instead of the contractor; however, the project is time-consuming, tedious and would take the street department away from all other duties for a period of time. The cost savings would be about $70,000.

“It’s not very exciting to hand place bricks,” Smith said. “When the time comes, you can’t just show up for a few hours a day. It’s quite an undertaking.”

Creston Mayor Gabe Carroll said he’s been in contact with members of Cindy Axne’s office to get an extension on the May 31 deadline, but has yet to hear back.

Guthrie said it’s not fair to the contractors to hold their bids much longer. Carroll confirmed the longest this could go is the next water board meeting Oct. 11.

“Basically what we’re waiting for is word that the grant can be extended and then see if there’s a way to work with funds to close that gap somehow whether it’s through cost reduction or more funding,” Carroll said. “If the project can’t go past that deadline, we’re probably dead in the water.”

Cheyenne Roche


Originally from Wisconsin, Cheyenne has a journalism and political science degree from UW-Eau Claire and a passion for reading and learning. She lives in Creston with her husband and their two little dogs.