The local team that will design and build a new water treatment plant for the city of Wichita is promising to do the work on time and within the budget.
Ron Coker with Wichita Water Partners made a presentation Friday to a local steering committee, to provide an update on the project, which is now estimated to be $508 million. He said the group has been involved with 35 projects in the past 25 years and has never had a budget overrun, has never had to ask for a change order and has never had a schedule problem. He said the team has a good core group of local design and construction companies, and there will be hundreds of local partners who will get involved. He said if the city is going to invest $500 million, “we want as much of that to be invested in Wichita companies as we can, to turn those dollars into your community and build this project with folks who are going to be here and be responsible and be accountable for the delivery of that project.” Coker said there will also be opportunities for women-owned and minority-owned businesses and emerging businesses to be involved with the project.
The project has been the focus of recent media reports saying that Mayor Jeff Longwell steered the project to friends who are involved with Wichita Water Partners. The mayor has defended the process that he and the council followed in awarding the contract, and he said it would keep more dollars local. The council voted 5-2 earlier this year to approve the contract for Wichita Water Partners, with council members Bryan Frye and James Clendenin voting no.
Coker also spoke to rumors that some members of the team had been involved in the 2014 water crisis in Flint, Michigan. He said those rumors have been around for some time, but they are not true. He said no members of the team were involved with the situation in Flint.
The city extended a deadline until December for Wichita Water Partners to submit at least 30 percent of the design with a cost proposal. The city said the extra time will allow for more analysis to determine the cost and cost savings on the project. The city is applying for a federal grant to help with the construction of the plant, which will replace a facility that is 80 years old.