On Thursday, the Mountain Water District board moved one step closer to formulating its capital improvement plan, which engineers said would help the district “control its own destiny.”

During its July meeting, the MWD board received presentations from two engineering companies that are interested in working with the district to help formulate its capital improvement plan, which will help the county’s water provider have a vision for future projects.

The two engineering companies that answered the district’s request for quotation regarding how they would assist MWD in formulating its improvement plan were Summit Engineering, which presented first during Thursday’s meeting, and Bell Engineering, along with its partner EDC.

“I struggled with this,” Kevin Howard, of Summit Engineering, said. “Because making a presentation for a study is a little bit different than making a presentation for something you’re going to build. So what we’re going to do is discuss what kind of report we would build, and then briefly review why we’re the team to build it.”

According to Howard, the RfQ (request for quotation) the district put out identified three major work items: Short and long-term goals, evaluation of the water system to minimize purchases and review staffing and make department recommendations.

Howard said there’s really two parts to a capital improvement plan: How much the water district can spend on capital improvements each year, and how the district is going to allocate what it spends on the various different projects.

“It’s that simple but there is a lot of heartache in those decisions,” he said.

 Howard proceeded to lay out Summit’s conceptional plan regarding each work item requested in the RfQ, stating that “ultimately it’s the board’s decision, but we’ll lay out the tables.”

According to Howard, Summit is capable, familiar with the district, close to MWD offices and is ready to implement the plan.

“I hope we’ve demonstrated that we know what we’re getting into and that we have the right team in place to do the job.” Howard said. “I think my advice would be, don’t use a 10-year plan because it’s too long and too difficult to see that far in the future.

“I think a five-year plan is much more realistic,” he added.

Howard also said having a capital improvement plan will “score you points” with KIA (Kentucky Infrastructure Authority), as well as the PSC (Public Service Commission).

The final presentation conducted by Bell Engineering and EDC laid out its conceptional plan for addressing the RfQ’s work items.

“Thanks for the opportunity to be here,” said Bell Engineering President Kelly Gillespie. “We’re excited to talk about the capital improvements plan and hopefully develop it.”

Gillespie said Bell Engineering has the team capacity to be able to work on “every component” within the MWD system, as well as explaining how EDC’s presence will assist in splitting responsibilities of the district.

According to Gillespie, Bell would propose working in “parallel tracks” adding that the engineering company would not anticipate going in and looking at facility assessments one at at time.

“We would have a group that’s focused on specific tasks,” Gillespie said. “We have folks who just focus on treatment facilities, we have folks that work on collections, we have folks that work on distributions and so on.

“We can attack this from a team perspective,” he added.

As with Summit, Gillespie said that Bell is familiar with the district, having completed projects for MWD in the past, and because EDC is based out of Pikeville, Bell engineering will be easily accessible. However, Gillespie added that what separates Bell in this process is its experience dealing with PSC.

“If PSC comes down on you, you want to be in position to know what to expect and know where things are headed,” Gillespie said. “This plan will help you with that and help you be out in front of them, as opposed to them dictating what you have to do.

“A capital improvement plan helps you control your own destiny,” he added.

According to Gillespie, Bell knows the district’s priorities and also knows the difficult topography of MWD, having “cut our teeth in Eastern Kentucky” since the start of the company.

MWD Chairman Micheal Blackburn said the board has an idea on where the district should spend money over the next five-to-10 years, but that MWD would be calling on whichever company chosen to look at what the board proposes.

“I think whomever we choose to help with this, we’ll interact with them while also giving our thoughts,” Blackburn said. “We’ll set the parameter for what we want you to look at.”

According to MWD General Manager Roy Sawyers, the board will score the presentations and then follow through with the best choice possible for the district.

As of presstime on Friday, no decision had been made.

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