The cost of painting the refurbished million-gallon tank at the Augusta Water Treatment plant led to financial problems for the Augusta City Council this week.
The estimate for the repairs had been set at $450,000. However when the three bids were opened, the least expensive was from Caldwell Tanks for $513,770.
In addition to the paint costs – which came in at $12.50 per square foot instead of $5 per square foot - the quick turnaround required in the specifications also pushed bids higher.
Willis Wilson of Aquatech said he began discussions with Caldwell to see what the city could do to save money on their bid.
With some modifications to the original plan and considerations on the timeframe allowed, the company came back with a price of $472,520 after deductions. There is also an additional $35,500 in engineering costs for the project.
The price was so far above the original estimate that some on the council were wondering about the cost of replacing the tank with a new one. Using a new tank would also avoid the difficult and potentially risky circumstance of taking the tank offline while repairs are being completed.
“What is the life expectancy of this tank versus a new one,” Councilor Matt Malone asked.
Wilson said the body tank is in such good condition that he didn’t consider life expectancy of the tank to be an issue once the repairs to the roof are made and new paint is applied.
The lowest cost for a new tank would be around $620,000 plus engineering costs.
Wilson said he didn’t think the benefit of the new tank justified the extra expense.
Mayor Kristey Williams asked about waiting until the fall to make the repairs since the city may need the tank in the system during higher usage times this spring.
But Wilson said the painting had to be done in the spring when temperatures were more predictably within the necessary range.
The council voted unanimously with Mike Wallace absent to approve the low bid by Caldwell Tanks to refurbish the tank.