Antioch City Council approves contract for Brackish Water Desalination Plant, rejects bid protest

Map of current and proposed pipelines for the Brackish Water Desalination Project in Antioch. Source: City of Antioch

By Anthony Dorado

The Antioch City Council convened for a special meeting on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020 to vote on whether or not to approve the agreement with Shimmick Construction Co. and reject the bid protest from Overaa Construction Co. The council unanimously voted to approve the contract and resulting budget changes.

The city council voted to increase the total budget for the Brackish Water Desalination Plant to $110,000,000. The contract with Shimmick would amount to $91,023,450, which includes $86,689,000 for the base, plus a five percent contingency of $4,334,450. The 29-year-old company has experience in building 49 water resource projects ranging in budget from $2.7 million to $1.2 billion, ranking as one of the top companies in the U.S. for water and wastewater treatment, and dam construction.

Councilmember Lori Ogorchock expressed her own concerns and those of residents that the plant will result in tangible rate hikes. City Manager Ron Bernal ensured the council that this would not result in any rate hikes. He also stated that this would not cause any unforeseen costs in the future.

Funding for the project includes a Cal Department of Water Resources Desalination Grant of $10 million, a State Water Resources Control Board Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund award of $56 million, California Department of Water Resources Settlement Agreement funds in the amount of $27 million, and City of Antioch Water Enterprise Funds of $17 million. Bernal expressed pride in the project explaining how it will stabilize water rates and allow the city a greater consistency of water intake year-round, regardless of rising salinity levels.

Mayor Thorpe expressed hope that this project would prepare the City of Antioch to meet the coming challenges of climate change. However, the main problem is the saltwater intrusion into the Delta due to the movement of fresh water south, since Antioch’s intake is at the lowest elevation in the Delta. That will worsen with the construction of the Delta bypass tunnel, known as the Delta conveyance. (See related articles, here and here.)

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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