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Bids open again for mandated Union-Rome sewer upgrade

Bids for the federally mandated upgrade of the Union-Rome Sewer District’s sewage treatment plant were opened Thursday by the Lawrence County Commissioners.

Two companies placed bids for all five contracts — general construction, electrical construction, HVAC construction, plumbing construction and instrumentation and control construction.

Shook Construction of Dayton had the apparent low bid of $23,823,000; coming in a close second was Smith Contractors of Lawrenceburg, Ky. that put in a bid of $23,882,006.

Two Huntington, W.Va., companies submitted bids for just the electrical work on the project. McDaniel Electric’s bid was $3,247,000 and Jordan Smith Electric’s bid was $3,595,400.

The bids were opened, but have not been accepted by the commissioners because of a lack of a quorum during Thursday’s opening.

This is the second time bids have been solicited for the project. The contracts came in a total of $4 million over estimates in April.

The sewer district is expanding its existing plant to handle more sewage and comply with Environmental Protection Agency requirements. The current plant can handle a little more than 1 million gallons of sewage a day and, according to officials, the facility is near or at capacity almost daily.

During an inspection by the Environmental Protection Agency two years ago, the system was found to have an inadequate process of removing ammonia from its sewage discharge — a problem in the district that still exists. The ammonia is deadly to species such as flathead minnows and water fleas that live in local waterways.

Money for the project is coming from loans from the EPA. State and federal funds are still in the works. Sewer rates were also raised last year in an effort to offset the cost of construction.