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Town considers process that saved schools money


The town of Coulee Dam has indicated that it would be in favor of going through a “value engineering” study of its plans for the proposed wastewater treatment plant.

Town officials Monday issued a statement that they have invited an engineer from the Department of Ecology to brief council members on the process and procedures of value engineering at their next meeting, Wednesday, Feb. 13, starting at 6 p.m. The public is invited to the meeting.

In a statement published this week in The Star, the town noted that the council understands the value of “ensuring that the wastewater treatment facility improvement project scope of work be the best value for the money.”

In essence, the study is like having someone look over your shoulder at what you are doing and why. While troubling to some, the truth of the matter is those doing the study, a collection of engineers, do so in an effort to save you money. As one person hinted, “It’s all about getting the most bang for the buck.”

That’s just what happened with the Grand Coulee Dam School District.

The district put the value engineering study out for bid, at a price of $47,500, and the benefits came back tenfold, according to district Superintendent Dennis Carlson.

While the school district was obligated to allow a team of engineers and others to review its plans, officials were glad to do so.

Their experience, and the experience of Design West, architects who developed plans for the new K-12 school project, suggests such a process in the long run saves money.

Coulee Dam, which was nudged into doing a value engineering study by petitioners who thought the $4.92 million project was too expensive, has little to lose and much to gain.

OAC of Spokane was the successful bidder to conduct the study for the school district and brought together a facilitator, an architect, a civil engineer, a structural engineer, a mechanical engineer, and electrical engineer and an estimator, none of which had anything to do with the school district plan.

The group of specialists do this for a living, and come up with all kinds of ways that save money on major projects.

Such an effort may be in the works for the town of Coulee Dam and its wastewater treatment plant. The town’s engineering firm, Gray & Osborne, whose projects are well known in the area, has indicated that it has no objection to another set of eyes having a look at their plans.

The town council voted for a three-month hiatus, which would allow time and maybe a process, to see if the major overhaul of the wastewater treatment plant can be done more economically.

The town has indicated a willingness to go through the process of value engineering, but hasn’t acted to move forward.

The town will not have a representative at a meeting scheduled for this morning in Spokane at the Indian Health Service office to discuss value engineering. IHS is a possible funder in the project.

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