Town seeks firm to help fix sewer system

Front Royal needs to hire another firm to help fix leaks in its sewer system.

Town Council plans to interview two of the four companies that offered to provide engineering services to help tackle the problem of inflow and infiltration that affects the sewer system and Front Royal’s ability to treat wastewater. The matter comes up for discussion at council’s work session Monday. Council is expected to interview two firms that offered to provide the services as required by the Department of Environmental Quality.

The DEQ issued a consent order in October 2009 requiring that the town reduce the inflow and infiltration caused when stormwater enters the sewer system through unsecure manhole covers and other leaks. The agency issued the order after the town allowed water from the sewer system to bypass the treatment plant because the amount exceeded the facility’s capacity, Town Manager Steve Burke said explained Thursday.

“However, we do do testing on the water that’s bypassing and, because it is primarily rainwater, it’s fairly clean,” Burke said.

The town needs such engineering services to make sure it meets the requirements of the consent order.

Prism Engineering began working for Front Royal about four years ago, Burke said. Prism performed geographic information system mapping, manhole inspection and assessment. Most recently Prism conducted smoke testing of the sewer lines and flow metering, Burke said. The town contracted out any of line-repair and patching work.

However, Prism chose not to renew its contract with the town when the agreement ended this spring. Front Royal contracted with Pennoni Associates to coordinate with the DEQ on the inflow and infiltration efforts on an emergency basis until the town could go through the selection process, Burke said.

The town Department of Environmental Services advertised for the engineering services through a request for qualifications. The following engineering firms submitted proposals by June 4: CHA Companies, Pennoni Associates Inc., Mattern & Craig and The Thrasher Group. A panel reviewed the proposals and short-listed CHA and Pennoni as the top two firms and has recommended that council interview both.

Funding has been allocated to the water and sewer line maintenance budget. State procurement laws do not allow town officials to negotiate a price for the services until a preferred firm has been selected, Burke said. Council will interview the firms and choose the preferred company. Town officials then will negotiate a price with the firm. If parties can’t reach an agreed price, council and the town can negotiate with the second choice, Burke said.

Director of Environmental Services Jimmy Hannigan explained the review process in an Oct. 9 letter to council. Proposals needed to address evaluation criteria and show their experience and examples of similar work to address inflow and infiltration; demonstrate ability to respond in a timely and efficient manner; list the names and qualifications of workers assigned to the project; provide a description and qualifications of other firms possibly involved; demonstrate an understanding of funding resources and budgeting.

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