With a price tag that is more than $1 million over their initial budget, Edinburg Councilmembers have approved a $5.2 million bid in anticipation of rising deficiencies at the city’s wastewater treatment facility.

Phase I, Stage 2 of the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion has been awarded to New Braunfels-based R.P. Contractors.

R.P will consider deficiencies of the plant including the construction of a new lift station, a new headworks station used for screening, degritting and flow measurement, yard piping to connect the treatment facilities, plant paving and fencing.

Improvements that address flow and capacity at the plant will be handled in subsequent stages, according to engineers. The plant is currently at 80 percent capacity, handling about 6.7 million gallons of wastewater per day.

“We are moving closer to the 90 percent stage, which as you all know means we need to begin construction so I encourage you to start preparing for the next stage,” Allan Booe, chief engineer with the project, told councilmembers.

Due to an increase in scope and cost, according to city engineers, the cost of the plant is more than $1 million over its initial budget first set in 2006.

Engineers initially budgeted $3.8 million at the start of the design. In August 2008 project engineers Melden & Hunt Inc. prepared estimates that then increased the cost of the project to $4.9 million.

The City’s Water Development Board at the time determined that additional funding “wasn’t a problem,” according to Booe. “This is why the WDB went through the whole process and allowed us to go to bid. We went to bid and indeed it came close to what we were estimating, like $1 million, we knew that going into this,” he said.

Engineers with the city say that, in a nutshell, they are improving a lot of the things present in order to have the capacity to remove grit for future expansions.

“Since then, when we get into detailed design to determine exactly what the problems are, exactly what equipment needs to be replaced, that’s when the scope expanded,” city engineer Isael Posadas told the Council.

Councilmember Gus Garcia then asked Posada why the initial amount of $3.8 million was included on the most recent city agenda and not the real amount of $4.9 million.

City manager JJ Rodriguez then intervened and said the loan process of the Water Development Board is a three-year process, making the $3.9 million the best estimate they had based on the current city Master Plan.

“Since then they have looked at the nitty gritty, if you will, in terms of actual design and that’s how they arrived at the new number, it just happened after the fact,” Rodriguez said.