MMU Commission gets updated timeline for Sandnes pipeline

MARSHALL – It looks like January will be a key month for progress on a project to connect the city of Marshall with a third water source. At a meeting of the Marshall Municipal Utilities Commission on Wednesday evening, commissioners got a look at an updated timeline for the pipeline project. MMU General Manager Brad Roos said the goal for completion of the project is July 1, 2015. MMU plans to award materials and construction bids for the pipeline by the end of January.

The 27-mile pipeline will connect a new well field in Sandnes Township, Yellow Medicine County, with the city of Marshall. Water from the new well field will help meet consumer demands while taking some pressure off Marshall’s two existing well fields, Roos said.

Roos told MMU commissioners Wednesday that the new timeline for the project was pushed back a month. Originally, he said, the plan was to let bids for the project this month. However, because of some new information from the Minnesota Department of Revenue, “We decided it would be prudent to delay,” he said.

The “new information” was a change in the Department of Revenue’s requirements for a state sales tax exemption on materials for the pipeline, Roos said. Starting Jan. 1, he said, water and sewer project materials will be exempt from Minnesota sales tax. Roos said it was originally thought that the Sandnes pipeline project would qualify for the exemption if a contractor purchased the materials. Instead, MMU learned it would have to purchase the materials directly.

Given the likely cost of materials for the pipeline, Roos said, it was worth pursuing the sales tax exemption.

Even with the one-month setback, Roos said, “We have had really strong general contractor interest.” He anticipated that the bidding environment would remain good in January. Another positive factor is that prices for PVC pipe have been fairly steady, he said.

The new bidletting date for materials will be Jan. 9, Roos said. On Jan. 14, bids will be let for construction of pipeline connections in the well field and at the Marshall water treatment plant. Bids for construction of the pipeline itself wil be let on Jan. 22.

Roos said bids would be awarded for the pipeline construction during the week of Jan. 28.

MMU Commission chairman Bill Ziegenhagen asked if it would be possible for commissioners to meet before bids are awarded, to “go through the numbers” on the project, and discuss its potential effects on city utilities in the future. Ziegenhagen said he wanted to make sure commissioners were doing their due diligence.

“This is a very big step for the city of Marshall and its citizens,” Ziegenhagen said.

Roos and commissioners agreed to hold a special meeting on Jan. 6 to discuss the project. However, Roos also stressed the need to move forward on the bid process, at the risk of being stuck with higher prices for materials.

“We do need to hit this in January,” Roos said.