Tellico Village Property Owners Association Board of Directors showed unanimous approval Oct. 16 for funding a 500,000-gallon water storage tank design for the Coyatee Hills subdivision after discussing concerns about sole sourcing and tank capacity.
Low water pressure had been an ongoing issue for residents in the northern portion of the Village due to lawn irrigation during the summer. Though the summer season has ended, the POA is taking steps to prevent another string of water pressure issues.
According to a task order, Coyatee Hills has an elevated pressure zone supplied by a booster station on Osage Drive, and the proposed tank property, located at lot 26/27, will support the tank base elevations of 1,105 feet. A booster station will be required to meet system pressures. The existing Coyatee Booster Station will be relocated to the tank site.
The design process for the tank, which is estimated at $63,150, is $23,150 over the budgeted amount of $40,000 for the project.
Funding will come from the POA’s Water & Sewer Reserve Fund, and Jacobs Engineering Group Inc., has been chosen as the sole source provider of the service. Cost was a factor in questioning the engineering group.
Parker Owen, POA chief financial officer, said the engineering group is familiar with the Village system.
Michael Colacone, board member, asked why the requested funds are $23,000 over the original budget of $40,000, and if Jacobs Engineering should have noted the extra model costs up front.
Jeff Gagley, POA public works director, said the engineering company was unsure of the models’ cost at the time of the budget estimate.
“The (Public Services Advisory Committee) worked through this, and basically the tank itself changed, and the requirements for that tank changed as part of this whole process,” Cap Purvis, board member, said. “It’s like you’re designing apples and now you’re going to do pears.”
The Jacobs Engineering design price and the group’s role as the sole source drew concern from other board members.
“With the sole sourcing, why are we not going out and checking the market and see if an engineering firm with the expertise that installs water tanks wants a quote on this because we could give them our diagrams, our flows, our pressures,” Steve Schneider, board member, said. “I’m uncomfortable saying we have a sole source just because Jacobs has done the work before. We know from experience what Jacobs is capable of doing. We’ve also seen a case where they kind of tilted the scale a certain way in regard to not relying on certain experts. I think we might need to get a second quote, and if it comes back at $100,000, then we’ve got it, but just to say because they’ve done sole work so far, then they ought to get the job, that’s the first concern I’ve got.”
Carla Johnson, board member, agreed with Schneider.
“I would like to see another quote on this and one of the reasons is I spoke with a water and sewer engineer, and I was asking him about the Jacobs study,” Carla Johnson said. “First I asked him if he was familiar with Jacobs, and he said, ‘That’s like asking a car dealer if they’re familiar with Cadillac.’ … I asked do we get the increased quality that corresponds with the increased cost, and he couldn’t really speak to that, so it just raised questions for me since we don’t have anything to compare it to. Are we paying too much?”
Gagley assured the PSAC recommended the POA stick with Jacobs Engineering.
Schneider also voiced his fear that Loudon Utilities Board may be unable to keep the 500,000-gallon tank full, which was a persistent issue in the past.
“One big issue is we’re making an assumption that LUB or some water company will be able to fill that half a million (gallon) water tank and keep it full,” Schneider said. “That’s a basic assumption.”
Gagley had no concerns about LUB keeping the tank full.
Bruce Johnson, POA board president, said an alternate option if LUB fails to properly supply the tank is to use Tellico Area Services System, although it is more expensive. In the summer, the POA worked with TASS to improve water pressure despite the extra cost. He recently spoke with a Villager at a grocery store who had experienced the low water pressure situation.
“He said, ‘I just want to thank you for giving us water pressure in Toqua’,” Bruce Johnson said. “Ever since we brought the issue before the board, we have not had a water pressure issue. That’s during the driest part of the season (during the latest drought). We had addressed the issue at the moment, and it should not do anything but get better as people quit irrigating, so that in conjunction with a new water tank and the continued use of water from the south end from TASS, we should be able to handle the problem going forward.”
Purvis and board member Rick Blough motioned and seconded, respectively, to approve funds as long as money was not spent until the land on which the tank will sit was obtained.
Gagley expects to acquire the deed for the Coyatee Hills property this week, which will begin the design process. Hopes are to have the design process completed in January, with the bidding and awarding process following. Construction administration is projected to begin in March and conclude in September.
In other business, the POA board members:
• Approved to install a replacement camera system for the Kahite clubhouse at $9,190.
• Moved $50,000 from the Contract Access Fee fund to the reserve fund for CAF fees.