Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Another delay for Tarpon Springs reverse osmosis water plant

TARPON SPRINGS — Finally freed of legal entanglements, the city's new water plant project was hardly on again before it was off — again.

As city commissioners readied last month to review design proposals, a protest from the second-ranked bidder has put Tarpon Springs' largest capital project ever on pause.

"We fully expected someone to protest just because," said Jay Jackus, the city's purchasing administrator.

Just because, perhaps, the protesting company stands to lose out on a $35 million contract.

In letters, second-choice Garney Construction accuses Tarpon Springs of breaking state laws because the city's top pick didn't follow bid procedures or include all the necessary information.

Ranking competing construction company Wharton-Smith as No. 1 was "arbitrary and capricious," according to Garney.

Among the complaints — and Garney contests dozens of points — is the way Wharton-Smith calculated its project price. But even by Garney's re-calculations, Wharton-Smith would remain the first-place bidder.

Still, Garney argues, that's an unfair advantage. So the company is calling for the city to disqualify Wharton-Smith and use Garney's proposal instead — or throw out all the bids and start over.

In a point-by-point response, the city noted where Garney interpreted recommendations as hard-and-fast rules.

The city also reminded Garney of this line in the request for proposals: "… the 'City reserves and holds at its sole discretion, various rights and options including without limitations' the right to 'waive any minor informalities in the Proposals.' "

Wharton-Smith out-scored Garney in every category except price. Ranked superior in technical approach and quality of design, Wharton-Smith's proposal would cost almost $1.5 million more than Garney's.

But for this project, "we evaluated on more than just price," Jackus said.

The committee considered factors such as Wharton-Smith's track record with building water plants. According to its website, the company constructed Pinellas County Utilities' reclaimed water facility in Palm Harbor and a reverse osmosis plant in South Florida.

Tarpon Springs' reverse osmosis facility has been in the works since 2002. Officials planned it as a move toward water independence: Instead of buying drinking water from Pinellas County, the plant would filter groundwater pumped from wells. The reverse osmosis process pushes the brackish, salty water through membranes to remove impurities, producing 5 million gallons of drinking water a day.

The leftover salty brine eventually gets diluted and discharged into the Gulf of Mexico.

That's what concerned Tarpon Springs resident Henry Ross, who petitioned the state to hold up the project. He questioned how the wastewater would affect manatees, sea grass and sea turtles near the facility north of the Anclote River. It took years to resolve that challenge.

Construction was slated to begin next month and finish by the end of 2014. But all is on hold until an administrative hearing Jan. 23 on the bid protest.

If the hearing doesn't go Garney's way, the project could be further delayed if the company decides to sue.

Stephanie Wang can be reached at (727) 445-4155 or swang@tampabay.com.

Another delay for Tarpon Springs reverse osmosis water plant 01/18/13 [Last modified: Friday, January 18, 2013 6:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Navy parachutist dies during demonstration over Hudson River

    Military

    JERSEY CITY, N.J. — In the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, a Navy Seal team member fell to his death Sunday after his parachute failed to open during a Fleet Week demonstration over the Hudson River.

    Officials surround a U.S. Navy Seal's parachute that landed in a parking lot after the parachutist fell into the Hudson River when his parachute failed to open during a Fleet Week demonstration over the river in Jersey City, N.J. The Navy said the parachutist was pronounced dead at Jersey City Medical Center. [Joe Shine | Jersey Journal via AP]
  2. As White House defends Jared Kushner, experts question his alleged back-channel move

    National

    WASHINGTON — The Trump administration argued over the weekend that back-channel communications are acceptable in building dialogue with foreign governments, part of an effort to minimize fallout over White House adviser Jared Kushner's reported discussion about creating a secret conduit to the Kremlin at a Russian …

    President-elect Donald Trump embraces son in law Jared Kushner, as his daughter Ivanka Trump stands nearby, after his acceptance speech at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of Nov. 9. [Mark Wilson | Getty Images]
  3. Sunstar ambulance unit overturns at Drew Street intersection in Clearwater, prompts road closures

    Accidents

    The intersection of Drew Street and Fort Harrison Avenue in Clearwater is closed following a crash that involved a Sunstar ambulance unit, according to the Clearwater Police Department.

    A Sunstar unit flipped in the intersection of Drew Street and Ford Harrison Avenue in Clearwater Monday morning after a car reportedly ran a red light and struck the ambulance, according to the Clearwater Police Department.
  4. Merkel spokesman: Germany still seeking stronger U.S. ties

    Nation

    BERLIN — Berlin remains committed to strong trans-Atlantic relations, but Chancellor Angela Merkel's suggestion after meetings with President Donald Trump that Europe can no longer entirely rely on the U.S. "speaks for itself," her spokesman said Monday

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a speech during an election campaign of her Christian Democratic Union, CDU, and the Christian Social Union, CSU, in Munich, southern Germany, Sunday. Merkel is urging European Union nations to stick together in the face of new uncertainty over the United States and other challenges. [Matthias Balk/dpa via AP]
  5. Tampa police: 46 arrests, 47 ejections at two-day Sunset Music Festival

    Public Safety

    Times staff

    TAMPA — In a preliminary tally Monday morning, police declared there were "no major incidents" during the two-day Sunset Music Festival at Raymond James Stadium but boosted the number of arrests and rejections they provided in earlier reports during the weekend.

    A Tampa Fire Rescue all-terrain vehicle patrols the parking area north of Raymond James Stadum on Sunday, day two of the Sunset Music Festival. [LUIS SANTANA   |   Times]