The Bend City Council approved a $1.05 million contract with the same firm that designed the city’s wastewater treatment plant expansion — and sparked an $8 million lawsuit from the construction company chosen to build it.

Councilors voted unanimously to hire CH2M Hill to design a replacement for the 46-year-old Drake lift station, which pumps about 100 gallons of sewage each minute from a lower elevation to a higher elevation.

“It’s an obsolete design,” city project engineer Jason Suhr said. “It’s outdated.”

Previous contracts with the Colorado-based CH2M Hill have resulted in the ongoing lawsuit and a $106,000 extra charge for a manhole.

Although Washington-based Apollo Inc. argues in its lawsuit that it fell behind on construction at the city’s treatment plant because of design errors, the city maintains issues were caused by Apollo’s poor work.

The city considers its past work with contractors when it scores bids, said Tom Hickmann, Bend’s engineering and infrastructure planning director. CH2M Hill scored higher than the other four bidders, he said.

“There are not design flaws or design errors,” Hickmann said. “If that’s what we were dealing with out there, they would not have scored well.”

In addition to the Apollo lawsuit, which is set for arbitration later this year, CH2M Hill made one other mistake that cost the city more than expected. In 2010, the city paid an extra $106,000 to a construction company because CH2M Hill’s design drawings were a couple of feet off.

That meant the construction company had to do more digging through rock than expected.

“Within the engineering industry, when you do these large projects you inherently end up with something you missed in the design,” Hickmann said. “That’s not an uncommon occurrence.”

The city would have had to pay for that extra drilling no matter what, Hickmann said. CH2M Hill took responsibility for the engineering mistake and paid for a portion of the costs, he said.

The contract approved Wednesday will have CH2M Hill, which is now a subsidiary of the international Jacobs Engineering Group, design a replacement for the Drake station as well as pipelines upstream and downstream of it. The firm is expected to also consider relocating the station.

Replacing the station, at the intersection of Riverside and Congress avenues, is a city priority, in part because continued development at the former KorPine site and the Box Factory are expected to increase wastewater flows at the site.

The city expects the design to be complete by November. Construction, which is estimated to cost $5.5 million, would start in spring 2020 and be done by fall 2020.

In other business, Bend Community Development Director Russ Grayson said his department will work with Steve and Krissy Bryant, Bend parents who had to move out of their tiny home because it violated city code, to find a compromise that could get the Bryants back into their home.

Grayson said he also wanted direction from the City Council on policies around tiny homes. Councilors will decide in March whether they want the city to work on those policies this year.

The city’s already received several applications for a new program that will distribute $3.7 million to neighborhoods on septic systems to connect to the city sewer. A committee will review those applications later this month.

Councilors also approved a $487,000 contract to reconstruct the south Mirror Pond parking lot. Changes include reducing the overall number of parking spaces from 95 to 79, providing spaces for oversized vehicles and removing garbage enclosures police say have been used for drug deals.

Construction will close the lot between the mid-March and early June.

— Reporter: 541-633-2160; jshumway@bendbulletin.com

22452751