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City’s new groundwater monitoring contract offers opportunity to move the job in-house
An old but not forgotten dumping ground has made its way back to the dais.
Last week, Interim Public Works Director John Cunningham brought forward a contract with Aspect Consulting to plan the next five years of monitoring water quality at the Vincent Road Landfill.
After extensive discussion, council members approved the contract — provided that city staff take over the monitoring job next year.
The city took over the former Kitsap County dump site after it ranked as one of the nation’s most toxic areas for 10 years.
Since 2002, the city has worked to follow the state Department of Ecology’s final cleanup plan for the property.
It’s the city’s commitment of the past 11 years to the cleanup plan that has recently pushed the site into the public forum as the location for a possible off-leash dog park.
By monitoring groundwater and analyzing contamination, the city has been able to evaluate and stay updated with the site’s cleanup.
At last week’s study session, the professional services contract with Aspect Consulting brought up the city’s ability to do its own maintenance instead of hiring out.
The discussion ultimately led to dollar signs.
The action plan by Ecology requires five-year monitoring periods for the site’s groundwater with biannual samples, analysis and reports filed at the end of the monitoring period.
Thus far, the city has undergone its first two five-year monitoring periods with success. This year will mark the beginning of the third monitoring period.
Aspect Consulting was selected as the most qualified consultant to perform the research.
However, the proposed contract for the next five-year monitoring period with Aspect is expected to total $84,514. That includes the standard twice-a-year monitored groundwater with samples taken, lab testing and assessment and a five-year report that will be sent to the city, Kitsap County and Ecology.
The contract also includes an addition service incorporated in the cost that has not been offered in previous monitoring periods. The consultants are prepared to provide training for city staff should they decide to take on the project themselves.
“That’s something that’s new to this contract,” Cunningham said. “There’s been a desire that maybe we would like to do this ourselves and be able to be a little more involved in it, as well as save some money.”
Along those lines, Mayor Steve Bonkowski pointed out that the contract may be canceled without penalty.
Both stipulations in the contract gave council members plenty to consider, but it was after hearing from one member of the public that the dialogue was propelled forward.
“This is very, very elementary water quality monitoring,” said Robert Dashiell. “It’s for wells located at the dump site all within easy walking distance. It’s going to be done in less than eight hours.”
He said previous contracts had charged 23 hours on just the well-monitoring part of the job.
Dashiell said that if the council wanted to keep a better watch on the labor costs of the project, bringing it in-house would be the best decision.
Cunningham responded in full agreement and offered suggestions on how the council could proceed.
“I think it does make sense for the city to look at taking this over, except for 2013,” Cunningham said.
“The reason I say that is because there’s training that’s needed, there’s special equipment that’s needed,” he continued. “We’d have to work it into our work plan to get the two samplings done between now and the end of the year.”
Cunningham recommended the council go forward with the contract with the idea of hiring Aspect for just the remainder of this year.
With that, Councilman David Ward requested the motion be clarified that the city will approve the contract with the understanding that the city fully intends to prepare its staff to internalize the job in March 2014.
“With 30 days’ notice, the city could terminate the contract … We don’t have to have a reason to terminate it,” Cunningham explained.
“But also the language does talk specifically about the city taking over the monitoring after the first year, and being trained on the appropriate ways to do the monitoring by the consultants,” he said.
The city council voted unanimously Wednesday to approve the contract.