by Lisa Tome
"We've had problems with this project from the start."
That's the opinion of Rising Sun water and sewer commissioner George Walker who recently announced that he has found ways to cut $1 million from the new sewer plant project's budget.
"It (the cost) was getting close to $14 million and I was becoming concerned. It seems we're always adding things," said Walker. "So I told the engineer (CDM Smith) and the contractor (Howard Robson) that it doesn't have to be pretty. It needs to be functional."
One of the ways that Walker cut costs was eliminating two block buildings at the plant. One of the block buildings was to be at the headworks. The other for plant operations. The headworks building has been eliminated. The plant operations building will now be a pole building.
In an effort to make the project no frills, the size of the parking lot at the plant was trimmed to cut paving costs. Sidewalks were also eliminated.
"That first week we looked at it, we eliminated $1 million. Then we found another $200,000 (in savings)," said Walker. The installation of a fence was delayed as another cost cutting measure.
The groundbreaking for the orbital disk wastewater treatment plant was held April 11, 2012. Rising Sun is under consent order from the Maryland Department of the Environment. In order to meet the guidelines set forth in the consent order, the town was supposed to break ground for this project by March 2011. The town has been fined repeatedly for the non-compliant current lagoon system.
"MDE is working with us. I anticipate that there will not be fines due to the fact that MDE knows we're working on it and trying to solve the problems," added Walker.
The plant is running more than a year behind schedule. Walker anticipates the work will be completed in July of 2015. "That's if we don't run into major problems. We won't see any real work now until spring. They (contract crews) are doing little things now," said Walker.