Construction Bids Due For Centennial Water Treatment Plant Replacement


Centennial Water Treatment Plant. Photo:

After many years of planning, bids on replacing the Centennial Water Treatment Plant are due on January 26. 

Amy Rusiecki, Assistant Superintendent of Public Works updated the Water Supply Protection Committee at their meeting on January 26,  providing a brief history of the project. “I worked on this project as a consultant before I moved over to the town and that was 12 years ago,” Rusiecki said.

The plant, which is one of three water treatment facilities that supply water to Amherst, has been offline since being hit by lightning in 2018.

When asked if the bids would be made public, Rusiecki said, “I’m happy to share the preliminary bids [with the committee members] because I’m going to be just as excited as you guys.” Rusiecki added that she expects two or perhaps three of the pre-qualified contractors submitted bids.

Costs for the project rose steeply from an estimate of $7 million in 2017 to $18 million in 2022. The debt will be supported by water rates and is outside the Town’s debt limit. Not all of the cost will be borne by ratepayers though as the town was accepted into the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund loan program which will offer benefits of loan forgiveness of approximately $2.7 million and a reduced interest rate of 1.5% for a portion of the balance. 

In June 2022, the Amherst Town Council rescinded an earlier borrowing authorization of $11 million and approved a new authorization for $18 million. Whether that will be enough will be known once bids are opened. Rusiecki said that the town hopes to sign a contract with a general contractor in the next month and construction is expected to take about two years.

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4 thoughts on “Construction Bids Due For Centennial Water Treatment Plant Replacement

  1. Are we still going to chlorinate vs UV radiate which is less expensive just as effective and not poisonous? Does this mean South Amherst can go back to just using the deep wells that require no treatment? Have we put too many people on the system? Are we planning reusing sewage water by putting it back at the high margins of the watersheds? Alleviate a lot of our concerns about drought and help restore the Fort River as a vibrant year round habitat VS Mud Ditch from which we redirect water into mill river and pump the water; thus draining Hop Brook during dry spells and we also drain “all” the wetland margins destroying natural water retention. Fort river is blocked by the Holyoke dam. Small dams with easily navigable spillways would help a lot.

  2. I will be interested to hear how the town is requiring contractors to reduce the massive amount of energy used in water treatment.

  3. I mean, I’m completely in favor of upgrading (and maintaining) our water treatment plants.

    But I do want to point out, vis-a-vis our overall spending, that it seems that this $7 million, $11 million, $18 million … is in fact going to be paid by us, the townspeople, even if “The debt will be supported by water rates and is outside the Town’s debt limit.” “Water rates” are paid by … us, I believe.

    Toni, the guru of town finance and dollars, is there something else I’m missing here? Are water rates in fact paid in significant part by some non-resident element? The University & Colleges? the state?


  4. My understanding is that all water users — residents and businesses, including the university and colleges — pay for the water they consume. The current rate is $4.75 per 100 cubic feet, plus a minimum quarterly charge of $29.85.
    The Water Fund is one of the self-sustaining “Enterprise Funds” setup for this municipal service, separate from the General Fund operating budget, so revenues from water rates (and some other smaller sources) are supposed to cover all expenses, including salaries for staff that maintain the systems and any capital improvements such as this Centennial project. Rates will be increased as needed when the debt service for this major project begins.

    There is more info in this memo from last April when the rates were last raised:—FY23—04-19-2022?bidId=

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