The City of Altus Mayor “may” implement Stage 4 in the event that Lake Tom Steed falls below 20 percent capacity, per amendments made to the City’s Water Restriction Ordinance during the regular City Council meeting held Tuesday evening, Sept. 17, in Council Cambers of the Municipal Complex.
During the AMA meeting, a Contract Change Order was approved for $98,750 to the Water Treatment Plant Improvement Phase I: Filter Renovation project. Water Treatment Plant Supervisor Gene Leister stated that video camera inspection has shown the under-drains and chambers of two filters so far are filled with filter media, and that the necessary removal is a difficult process requiring more time and labor. Video inspection also showed further structural issues with grout in the chambers where some are completely or partially obstructed.
Councilman Michael Beason raised a concern for having to rebid the entire contract if the change order exceeds 15 percent of the total cost, $690,000, per state statute.
Stephen Cesar of SBC Consulting Engineers, the engineer working on the project, said that any additional work beyond the original contract that exceeds 15 percent would have to be rebid, but not the whole job. He informed it is unlikely that something else will “come up,” requiring another change order further along in the project.
“We’ve budgeted enough money in this change order to literally inspect and clean all of the filter under-drains, and there really aren’t any other contingencies that we’re looking at that would require a change order,” Cesar said. After further discussion, Council approved the Contract Change Order.
Other items approved under the AMA meeting include Resolution No. 2013-40 to adopt the budget amendment of the AMA of the City of Altus for the Fiscal Year 2013-2014; Bid #13510 for three 25 kVA, 277 volt, 1 Phase, Pole Mount Transformers, to Graybar of Oklahoma City, for a total price of $2,650.00; Bid #13610 for one 75; one 112.5; two 150; one 300 kVA 208Y/120; one 750; one 2000 kVA 480Y/277; one 75, and one 112.5kVA 240D/120, 3 Phase, Padmount Transformers, to H.D. Supply Power Solutions of Oklahoma City, for a total price of $91,969.00; and Bid #13710 for 1/O and 4/O Aluminum 15 KV 220 Mil Primary Cable URD w/Full Neutral to Wesco Distribution, Inc. of Amarillo, Texas for the amount of $40,125.00.
During the City Council meeting, Council made several changes to the City’s Water Restriction Program and came close to implementing Stage 4- Drought Emergency.
Now, the amended ordinance states that emergency drought conditions shall be deemed to exist if the Mountain Park Conservancy District manager or Bureau of Reclamation determines Tom Steed to be below 20 percent. Initially there was a motion made by Councilman Beason to approve an emergency to exist when Lake Tom Steed is below 30 percent, (now estimated at 25-26% of capacity) which would consequently place the City in Stage 4.
“I believe we are in exceptional drought,” Beason said. “While we do have rain, I don’t know how much rain we’re going to get or when the exceptional drought conditions will end. I think 30 percent is safer and we have to get pretty serious about conserving water,” he said.
Councilman Rick Steen added, “I agree with you Michael. I think we need to go to Stage 4 right now.”
Councilman Chad Osborne stated that there is no extra savings in stage 4, and where it might make citizens feel better, it could result in halting “every construction project in this town.”
“There is more harm in this document than good and it’s being done, in my mind, for political pressure,” Osborne said, later adding, “We are rationing water and we’re doing a great job at it. We can’t ration what water we have forever. Alternative water is the answer. It’s going to take a certain amount of water to make people’s lives work here.”
City Administrator Elizabeth Gray confirmed that going to Stage 4 will shut down the Park Lane and Veterans Lane waterline relocation project and two future waterline relocation projects. “These waterline relocation projects are very important because the more waterlines we replace the better our infrastructure is, the less water we lose.”
After further discussion the vote failed. A vote was made to deem emergency drought conditions if Lake Tom Steed falls to 20 percent or below, and passed 5 to 3.
Other amended language concerning Stage 4 includes a total ban on outside water use of non-essentials, excluding watering by soaker hoses, mainly to help water house foundations. Commercial car washes will all be closed on Mondays. City Administrator Elizabeth Gray stated that a meeting was held with all the local car wash owners who agreed to all be closed on the same day. Also, individual customers outside of the city whose connection point is on a city line, shall be held to the same restrictions as those customers inside the city who are connected to a city line.
Charles Horton who represents outside municipality water customers of Eldorado, Olustee, and Martha, also submitted amendments to the ordinance to be reviewed by a committee.
Also during the City Council meeting, Council authorized to hire an architect to draft a preliminary site plan to complete both the Senior Citizen’s Center and the Fire Station MAPS projects and determine a cost, for a fee not to exceed $5,000. Councilman Dwayne Martin suggested that the former Police Station Building at 121 N. Grady and the former City Hall building be possible locations for both projects. Both locations would undergo demolitions and renovations.
Other items approved during the City Council meeting include the purchase of iRecord Essential (1-Room) Non-Expandable Kit for video taping interrogations and interviews for criminal investigations, with related hardware and installation for the Police Department that exceeds $10,000.00 per Code of Ordinance, Chapter 2, Article V Purchases, Sec. 2-88, Paragraph 4; to draft an ordinance amending Section 25-13 Container system of storage, Chapter 25 Solid Waste, or any other section in that chapter, to prohibit those persons paying for garbage and trash service from depositing solid waste in another’s dumpster; and authorized the Vice Mayor to sign a Fuel Supplier Proposal with Hooten Oil Company for the Altus/Quartz Mtn. Airport. The Altus Airport has been a Phillips 66 branded fuel dealer since 2006. Hooten Oil Company is the “only” supplier for Phillips 66 in the area.
There was no new business.
City Administrator Gray informed that the Park and Veterans Lane waterline relocation project is underway and that the next two waterline relocation projects are to be bid this week.
During City Council comments, Councilman Beason reported to be currently working on an Emergency Drought Relief Fund application with the help of the City Treasurer’s Office and Councilman Martin to apply for state funding. “I will be calling for a special meeting so that we can vote on that, and hopefully if it passes get it sent up to the Governor.”
Councilman Martin informed that there are crews and equipment on site at Round Timber Water Well field as of last week, pulling equipment, hooking up to infrastructure, pumping water, and measuring volumes. “We’ve got favorable results on volume and quality so far. We’re largely confirming what we think we already knew,” and called it a very productive week.
Councilman Perry Shelton thanked God for the rain Altus has received over the last couple days, and encouraged those who are praying to continues. “We need all the help we can get. Praying for rain and ending the drought.”