WHO: Cities of Fridley, Golden Valley, and Hutchinson, Minn.
WHAT: Shared contract for installing structural cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) into 1 mile of trunk water main pipe in three non-adjacent locations.
SAVINGS: 10% less than an open-cut rehabilitation method
In the three decades since Insituform Technologies Inc. introduced the world to cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) technology, it's become a widely accepted rehabilitation technique for sanitary sewers. But until the last decade, no one's been able to adapt the concept for drinking water systems.
Three companies — one each in Belgium, Canada, and the United States — have developed lining systems designed specifically for pressure pipes. Though alike in many ways, each differs enough to make preparing an apples-to-apples set of bidding documents a challenge.
Last year, though, budget cuts, potential push back from recession-weary residents, and site-specific variables converged to prompt the Minnesota cities of Fridley, Golden Valley, and Hutchinson to give the process a try. Though their communities aren't adjacent, engineers for the three cities had gotten to know each other through American Public Works Association – Minnesota and City Engineers Association of Minnesota meetings.
Each city had a need, but a contract issued by just one of the three wouldn't be large enough to tempt contractors, all of which were out-of-state, to bid. Combined, however, their projects represented 1 mile of work. So working with a consulting firm — Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc. (SEH) — they'd each worked with on other projects, they decided to try bidding the job together.
“Our experience with structural CIPP for sewer rehabilitation has been good,” says Mitchell Hoeft, a staff engineer for Golden Valley, an inner-ring suburb of Minneapolis-St. Paul. “We'd heard the industry claims for structural CIPP trunk water main pipe rehabilitation — how it can save more than 30% compared to open-cut construction, how its carbon footprint is 80% less than open-cut. We were convinced it was the way to go.”
SEH facilitated meetings with the three cities and suggested awarding the work using a cooperative project agreement (CPA). Minnesota statute 471.59 (“Joint Exercise of Powers”) gives cities, counties, and other government agencies the authority to enter such an agreement, also called a “joint powers agreement,” with other units of government for projects and programs. All states allow such agreements.
An agreement establishes a board with the power to manage funds, enter contracts, hire employees — and sue (or be sued). Enacted in 1943, the law opened the door for widespread usage. In fact, the League of Minnesota Cities reports that in 2003 more than half the state's cities were using the law. Between 2004 and 2010, more than 1,800 agreements were in place. (For more information on cooperative agreements in Minnesota and elsewhere, see “Prudent purchasing” beginning on page 45 of PUBLIC WORKS' June 2007 issue.)
SEH Project Manager Paul Pasko offered a justification for the arrangement that everyone could live with — the bottom line — and began developing a set of bid documents that would open the extremely narrow field of experienced contractors as wide as possible.