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Strasburg enters talks over water storage issue

By Alex Bridges

A solution to Strasburg's need for more water storage space remains uncertain.

The town received sealed proposals Friday from two design-build teams, and officials now plan to begin negotiations with both private firms.

Town Manager Judson Rex said Monday that most of the details in either proposal must remain confidential during the process.

"But we did get two proposals, so that's encouraging," Rex said.

The proposals look at storage options but Rex said he couldn't go into more detail. Rex said the proposals confirm the findings of an early study that says Strasburg needs more storage capacity.

Design-build teams had access to the study and the water modeling software used to generate the findings, Rex said. This allowed the teams to have a "holistic view" of the water system.

"It's too early to say whether they mean the criteria for solving our water storage issues," Rex said. "Certainly my hope is that we have someone that came up with an idea that is viable, both from a financial standpoint and from an aesthetic standpoint, that will give us a good alternative to just building a traditional water storage tank."

Rex cannot give an estimated cost of the project based on the proposals because of the confidential nature of the information and the fact the town and teams now plan to begin the negotiations.

Staff and the teams will enter the conceptual design review phase to make sure the proposals meet the basic criteria set by the town, Rex said. Once the first part of the process is complete, town staff may choose to take one or both proposals to the detailed design phase.

Staff could finish its work on the conceptual design phase and present its findings to Town Council within 30 days, Rex said.

"I would say, by the end of the year we'll have a pretty firm direction of where we're going to go," Rex said.

Strasburg sought "innovative" proposals earlier this summer from qualified design-build teams for solutions to solve the town's water storage issues as well as domestic and fire flow needs. Specifically, the town requested proposals that took into consideration the fact that Strasburg already considered elevated towers that posed aesthetics and land-use challenges.

A study of the town water system identified two potential sites for above ground storage tanks. Residents from the areas of Stony Pointe and Crystal Hill spoke against using land near their neighborhoods for a tower.

Teams had until noon this past Friday to submit sealed proposals. The town took submissions through the Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act by which firms or teams submit solicited or unsolicited proposals that include the information required in the advertised request.

The town recently approved a revised set of guidelines staff and council use when receiving and negotiating proposals or bids submitted through the PPEA.

Strasburg contracted with Patton, Harris, Rust and Associates, a Pennoni Company, to study the town's water system and to identify improvements the town could complete using money remaining from the construction of a new treatment plant. The results of that water model showed a need for more storage capacity and pressure in certain areas. Teams that submitted proposals had access to this study.

Funds remaining from the plant project fell short of earlier estimates. That and the concerns raised with the aesthetic impact of an elevated storage tank spurred town staff to seek other ways to solve the issues.

The town's treatment plant currently provides a maximum of 1 million gallons of water per day to approximately 2,800 customers. A new plant, with a maximum output of 3 million gallons per day, remains under construction. The system will have a storage capacity of 3.4 million gallons, to include five tanks and one reservoir.

The town sought proposals that also would eliminate or reduce the annual cost to operate the existing Sandy Hook reservoir.

The request for proposals noted the town's interest in any ideas that may include collaboration with other municipal water treatment storage facilities such as those operated in Front Royal, Middletown, Woodstock and Toms Brook.

The town's request for proposals required teams include many details in the submissions, all of which would remain under seal. For instance, teams must identify any anticipated adverse social, economic and environmental impacts of the project and specify strategies to mitigate the impacts.

Teams must give a proposed schedule for the construction of the project, including the estimated time of completion. The teams also must provide a plan on how to finance the project.

Should town officials decide to move forward into the detailed phase of the review with one or both proposals, teams must provide more information, such as a topographical map that shows the location of the project. Teams must submit a conceptual site plan with the proposed location and configuration of the project; a detailed description of the proposed participation, use and financial involvement of the town.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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