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City waste cleanup comes at hefty cost

In what appeared to be a reluctantly-cast vote, Walterboro City Council voted unanimously at a recent council meeting on Tuesday night to give an additional $400,000 in funds to clean out the city’s collective waste bucket.
The additional funds provided by the city puts a final estimated price tag of about $4 million on the project. The entire project was originally set to cost about $3.6 million. However, in recent weeks, the cost has changed – as has the amount of work to be done on the project. According to city officials who spoke to Walterboro City Council about the project, the change in cost comes from an under-estimate given to city officials by an outside contractor who is working on the project. That underestimated price tag comes from the contractor estimating there is less wastewater/sewage sludge to be removed from the plant than what actually exists.
According to information given to city council members and Mayor Bill Young during Tuesday’s meeting, there have already been about 200 tons of waste removed from the city’s wastewater treatment facility. “There is a lot more material to be removed, to be gotten,” said city Manager Jeff Molinari, who spoke to the city’s leaders about the project. The project is currently about 30-percent complete. As some city council members questioned the cost increase – specifically Walterboro City Councilman Bobby Bonds – other city department heads told the council that this the first time that the city’s entire wastewater plant has ever been cleaned out. “We don’t’ have much a choice, but to move forward,” Bonds said, during an open discussion on the request for more money to finish the project. Bonds also asked how the chosen contractor made such a large mistake in estimating the cost. City officials then told the council that the amount of waste that needs to be removed was grossly underestimated, prompting the increase in funds for the project to continue.
Council ultimately voted to approve the increase in funds, allowing the cleaning process to go forward. Despite the increase in funds and the delay in the project’s process, city leaders say the project is still slated for a completion date this December, in 2017.

Heather Walters (1151 Posts)