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Bids for St. Helena wastewater treatment plant upgrades exceed budget

Wastewater treatment plant

St. Helena’s wastewater treatment plant.

St. Helena’s wastewater treatment plant upgrade is facing a funding shortfall after bids exceeded the city’s budget.

Five bids were unsealed last Thursday, the lowest being from Thompson Builders of Novato at $14.9 million. The highest bid was over $17.8 million.

The low bid exceeded the engineer’s estimate of $11.5 million by $3.4 million.

Public Works Director Mark Rincon told the City Council he’s looking at how to “value-engineer” the project to cut costs, but “there’s not a lot of wiggle room there.”

Finance Director April Mitts said she’d be meeting with consultants on Wednesday to look for ways to close the funding gap.

The City Council is tentatively scheduled to award a bid on Dec. 14, which would allow construction to begin around February.

The upgrades are necessary to comply with new treatment standards imposed by regulators in 2016.

The project will replace the current plant with a packaged Membrane Bioreactor Treatment Facility capable of primary, secondary and tertiary treatment. The new plant will enable the city to produce recycled water that can be delivered to customers for non-potable use through a network of “purple pipe.”

Pam Smithers and Mariam Hansen shot videos showing the effects of Sunday's storm on the Napa River and the flood project, which performed as designed.

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You can reach Jesse Duarte at 967-6803 or

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