By Rebecca Dopp
An improvement project on the lower hydro plant in Salt Creek Canyon will be bid out this week.
Nephi City owns and operates two hydroelectric facilities in Salt Creek Canyon. One is referred to as the lower hydro and has the generating plant right at the bottom of the canyon at the intersection of the golf course road and 100 N. That plant operates on irrigation water from Salt Creek that is diverted up by the Nebo Loop Road junction and Highway 132.
The water is diverted down a pipeline down the canyon and then spins the turbines at the hydro plant and returned into the streambed and used by the Nephi Irrigation Company (NIC). They own the agricultural use rights of that water while Nephi City owns the generating right.
"Because of the technology that was employed at the time the plant was constructed," said Randy McKnight, city administrator, "there are some challenges in giving full use of the irrigation right of that water to the irrigation company and not have the hydro plant interfere with that full use."
In order to remedy that, McKnight said that some alterations and improvements to the hydro have been proposed, designed and the construction of that has been bid out.
Those changes include a new meter that will be added to the pipeline that brings the water down, a bypass valve that will be added along with piping to maintain the tail-raise flow in the event of a power plant shutdown, and new controls will be added including a solar radio repeater in the canyon.
The project is of interest to both the city and the irrigation company so a third party, the Central Utah Water Conservancy District, has agreed to help provide some of the funding as well as some of the management of the process.
The city has made an agreement with CUWCD that it, the district, will do the engineering, the construction management and the contract management on this project.
The bids for this project were opened at the CUWCD offices in Orem. Prior to the bid opening, the city held a pre-bid meeting to familiarize interested contractors about the project and to tour the facilities to get a better handle of the situation before they prepared their bids, said McKniight.
Council members received a list of the bidders and the amounts that were bid to look over. The CUWCD will award the bids this week at their district meeting.
The engineer estimate for the project was $400,000. Bids were received for both above and below that price. The lowest bid came from Gerber Construction in the amount of $354,000.
The staff at the CUWCD will review the bids to make sure they were submitted properly, then, with input from the Nephi City Council, will make their suggestions to the district board which will then award the contract.
Further paperwork from the contractor will be accepted and the contract will be signed. A notice to proceed will be given for the construction by November and some elements of the project will begin, weather permitting, with a completion date of April 2013.
McKnight said that at the present, all of the costs for the project will be covered by the water conservancy district as part of the Central Utah Project Completion Act. No local dollars from Nephi City will be invested there although some of the improvements will improve the city's operating conditions at the plant.
Mayor Mark Jones asked about the qualifications of the lowest and highest bids and everyone in between. McKnight said he had asked about the lowest bid and if they were known to the district.
"The response was yes, they had frequently contracted to do work for the district and are well-known and the district is comfortable with them if they are awarded the bid," he said.