City council approves contract to build new water plant in northwest Wichita

The Wichita city council has approved a contract with a local engineering and construction team to build a new water treatment plant in the northwest part of the city.

The plant is needed to replace an existing facility that is 80 years old.  Public works director Alan King said if there is a failure at the plant, it could mean a loss of water for half a million people. He said the new plant will be designed with redundant systems, so if there is a breakdown in the system in the future, another part of the plant can continue to provide water service.   King said the plant would also be designed to deal with any future drought conditions.

The council had decided in December to go out for bids on the project, but only one team submitted a bid.  Mayor Jeff Longwell said it’s a high quality team made up of several local companies that will be able to get the job done.

The council voted 5-2 to approve a $6 million dollar contract for the first phase of the project.  The total project cost will be over $524 million and the city is applying for a federal grant that would cover 49 percent of that cost.

Council members Bryan Frye and James Clendenin were the no votes, voicing concern about having only one bidder for the project.   Clendenin said the city needs to look at its overall process in asking for bids on major projects, and he believes some adjustments are needed.