New wastewater contract with CH2M will provide $535K in savings to Gresham ratepayers

OUTLOOK FILE PHOTO - Greshams Wastewater Treatment Plant will have a new operator thats expected to lower costs for residents.The city of Gresham has chosen a new operator for Gresham's Wastewater Treatment Plant after a lengthy search and evaluation process.

During the Tuesday night meeting, March 6, Gresham City Council unanimously voted to enter into a contract with Operations Management International, Inc., a subsidiary of CH2M Hill Companies Ltd. The company will oversee operations, maintenance and management of the plant.

"I'm so glad we went through this process," said Council President Kirk French. "If we didn't we may have jumped to the wrong decision."

The current contract for the facility, with Veolia Water North America, expires June 30. The city went through a competitive process to find the best firm to run the plant, ultimately choosing CH2M for a 10-year contract with a fixed annual-service fee of $2.8 million in fiscal year 2018-19, increased at 105 percent each year. Of the three finalists, that contract was the most affordable option, marking about $535,000 in savings from the previous year.

"The ratepayers win on this one," said Councilor David Widmark.

Gresham's wastewater plant treats about 11 million gallons per day of wastewater from residential, commercial and industrial dischargers. The water must go through a process to meet all environmental standards and regulations before being discharged into the Columbia River. The facility has gained recognition for its green practices and focus on sustainability.

"It's a great facility, well-known around the world," said Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis. "It seems I can't go anywhere without someone asking about it, because of the employees leading the way on sustainability."

During the search, CH2M came through with the most competitive contract as well as being a good fit with the city, officials noted. It was scored highly for operational experience, local and regional operations to partner with, excellent training and safety record, and innovative solutions to improve operations. The company operates more than 200 wastewater facilities in the United States, including a plant in Vancouver, Wash.

The operation will change hands on July 1.

Other business:

During the meeting the council also unanimously approved a full consent agenda, including the following items:

-- Approval to purchase a 10-yard dump truck from Tec Equipment, Inc., for the Department of Environmental Services. The new truck will allow the department to transport excavation debris, hot asphalt and backfill rock to and from job sites in an efficient and safe manner. The purchase will not exceed $197,493.

-- The city was authorized to submit a 2018 Local Government Grant application to Oregon State Parks & Recreation. The grant would be used to implement the 2008 Council-adopted Gredin Community Sports Park Master Plan. The grant would be used for Phase II — additional softball and soccer fields, a playground for younger children, restroom and concessions facilities and additional parking.

-- The council approved a contract that will bring fulltime mental health clinicians to work with the Gresham Police Department Mental Health team. The clinicians will be with Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare Inc.

-- The city will purchase eight Ford Escapes, one Ford Explorer and one Ford F150 Pickup. The new vehicles, to be purchased from Gresham Ford for about $262,000, will be assigned to the Building Division and Code Compliance services.

-- Tom Orth was reappointed to the Design Commission, which assists in the development and application of design standards and guidelines throughout the city.

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