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Sewage digester contract awarded

City selects CH2M HILL for $30 million job

The engineering firm that was ordered last month to pay more than $5 million to the family and estate of a city employee killed in sewage accident, was awarded a $30 million city contract on Monday.

The Spokane City Council voted unanimously to award CH2M HILL the eight-year contract to engineer, plan and manage the construction of two new sewage digesters and other work at the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

The new digesters, which will hold almost 3 million gallons each, will treat solids collected in sewage.

City Councilman Al French, who leads the city’s Public Works Committee, said there was a lot of blame to go around for the accident, but that he has confidence in CH2M HILL.

“I have no hesitation in terms of their ability to do the job,” French said. The accident “creates a heightened level of awareness that will hopefully prevent it from happening again in the future.”

The contract does not cover construction costs of the project, which are expected to reach about $100 million, said Dale Arnold, Spokane’s wastewater management director.

The digesters are planned to be operational by 2015.

Earlier this year, the city finished building two other digesters. Spokane’s plant had three digesters that were constructed in the 1970s. In 2004, the roof of one of the digesters collapsed in an accident that killed mechanic Mike Cmos Jr.

A Spokane County superior court judge ruled last month that CH2M HILL must pay more than $5 million to Cmos’ family and estate as part of a lawsuit.

Arnold said the new contract between the city and CH2M HILL better clarifies the firm’s and city’s responsibilities.

The new digesters are needed to replace aging digesters and the one that malfunctioned, Arnold said. The city also needs more capacity to deal with higher water quality standards, he said.

Money for the project will come from existing fees on city utility bills.

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