Letter: Odor control upgrade risky

Curt Moore

I admit that I know nothing about sewage treatment facilities or odor control systems. However, I do know something about managing projects and, based on the recent Gazette article on cost growth in this project (“Costs go up to keep ‘rotten eggs’ smell down,” Aug. 9), it appears that the city might want to go back and examine how the project’s risk can be controlled

Projected cost has grown 70 percent from the initial March 2015 estimate of $3.9 million to the recent negotiated price of $6.6 million to an Illinois contractor. The city says their initial cost estimate was low because “overall project difficulty and market conditions were underestimated.” In addition, the city utilities director says “It is very difficult to project this type of work, when you are talking about an odor control system that’s not like any other odor control system.” Those words should raise a giant red flag that says risk, risk, risk.

Perhaps the questions that should have been asked before the contract was finalized are: Would a more conventional odor control system, with a proven track record and implementation cost data from other cities, have provided a lower risk, “good enough” solution? Why does Cedar Rapids need such a unique system? How does the city plan to control that risk and ensure that final cost doesn’t exceed the negotiated price? How is the city going to improve its cost estimating techniques to prevent big surprises to taxpayers on future projects?

Curt Moore

Cedar Rapids

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