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Cost to build Iao water treatment plant balloons

The cost of the yet-to-be-built Iao water treatment plant has grown more than 43 percent from an estimated $15 million to nearly $21.5 million.

The $15 million project estimate that was approved as part of the Department of Water Supply’s fiscal 2016 budget was “a planning-level estimate based on information available at the time,” said department Director Dave Taylor via email Tuesday.

The estimate was done nearly two years ago, before the project design was completed, he said. The lowest bid submitted recently for the project hovered around $21 million, according to Maui County Council documents.

The council’s Budget and Finance Committee discussed the matter Tuesday morning and noted that the project is “shovel ready.” The committee deferred action on the matter, and the full council is scheduled to take it up for first reading Friday morning in Council Chambers.

The water department wants to amend its 2016 budget to reflect the higher project cost estimate, and it’s seeking council approval for the higher spending amount. The money would come from the state’s drinking water treatment revolving loan fund.

To amend this year’s budget, the council would need to approve the spending amendment on first reading Friday to allow time for second-and-final-reading approval before June 30 – the end of the current fiscal year.

Last year, Taylor said the department expected to begin work on the project this summer. On Tuesday, he said the county hopes to issue a contract this summer “to begin work.”

The new treatment plant would allow the county to double the amount of surface water processed into drinking water, according to planning documents filed with the state.

The existing treatment plant takes in 1.784 million gallons of water daily and produces 1.7 million gallons of drinking water. With the new facility and another 10 million gallons of ditch-diverted water returned to the Wailuku River because of the Na Wai Eha stream water agreement, the county will be able to take on an additional 1.416 million gallons per day, Taylor said last year.

Total daily output of the new treatment plant would be approximately 3.2 million gallons per day. Wailuku Water Co. owns the ditch system that delivers the surface water.

The project is planned for construction on approximately 2.6 acres of vacant private property on West Alu Road, near its intersection with Iao Valley Road and west of Main Street, just mauka of the current treatment plant.

Construction is expected to take approximately two years. It would consist of a treatment plant building; an above-ground, 2,000-gallon diesel fuel tank as part of a generator system; a sludge lagoon; a chlorine contact tank; a finish waterline; gravity wastewater line; and a drainage system.

When construction on the new plant is completed, the existing one will be decommissioned.

The new water treatment plant also is being built because temporary membrane filtration units at the current treatment plant no longer have shelter. Initially, they sheltered within a large tent, but that has since been removed. The units have been exposed to the elements for a number of years.

Future population demands and a need for new treatment units also prompted the development.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.