Sewer rehab project officials hope for bids soon


A contract recently was signed for an Indianapolis firm to oversee the design, bid and construction processes of a sewer rehabilitation project in Brownstown.

Brent Siebenthal, president of Wessler Engineering, said the plan is to submit the preliminary design to the town council for review in mid-October and then take a final review in early November.

The company then will seek out three contractors to submit bids for the work. The low bidder would be announced in early January, grant funding for the project would be received by the end of that month and the project contract would be awarded at the first council meeting in February.

The work is expected to begin next spring and take about six months to complete.

“We would like to get this project designed and out the door for bidding during the typical slow period for the contractors, so hopefully, we would have bids in hand by the end of the year,” Siebenthal said.

“That way, hopefully, we would get some better pricing because the contractor is going to be able to say, ‘I can plan on this work for next year’ and also give them a long enough window to actually get the work done so they can work around their schedule and use this as filler work,” he said.

Wessler Engineering’s contract is for $132,200. That’s broken down to $69,500 for the design fee, $17,900 for the bid phase, $29,800 for construction administration and $15,000 for 120 hours of construction inspections. The latter number was reduced because Scott Hunsucker and Jeff Lubker with Brownstown Wastewater Utility will do part-time inspections.

Siebenthal said the construction administration and inspection numbers are estimates and could change depending on what the contractor gets into during construction.

The contractor’s bid will be set up to include the Priority 1 work, including 12,000 feet of sewer lining and manhole rehabilitation. If the prices are low enough, some Priority 2 work could be included, Siebenthal said.

“We’re going to try and work it out so they would televise all of the sewers upfront,” he said. “Normally, they will televise a few sewers and then do the lining and move on to some more sewers. Let’s get everything televised upfront so we know exactly what’s going on. If we need to prioritize or take some of the sewers out of the project and add some of the Priority 2, we’ll do that early on.”

Hunsucker said the sliplining work that will be performed in Brownstown is not very disruptive to residents, as homes, yards or streets aren’t torn up.

Specialized sliplining equipment is used to place a resin liner through a manhole. The liner is pulled through with steam or hot water, expands and conforms to existing pipe and forms up like PVC pipe.

To complete that work, the outside temperature has to be above freezing, Hunsucker said.

Siebenthal said residents should experience limited service interruption during sewer work near their home, anywhere from an hour to four hours.

“We require the contractor to notify residents and hand out notices to be on limited water usage,” he said. “If they have any concerns — sometimes, there’s an odor associated with the liners — there will be a number for them to call that’s a contractor representative. Oftentimes, we include our number, as well, and they can call us if they have any concerns.”

Wessler Engineering completed the cleaning and video inspections of the sanitary sewer system earlier this year. That included smoke testing of the sewer lines, manhole inspections and pole cam, where they look 150 to 200 feet up into each manhole.

Wastewater utility workers also kept track of the cleaning they performed. Based on those logs and Wessler Engineering’s data, they came up with the Priority 1, Priority 2 and Priority 3 sewer lines.

Hunsucker then sent out letters to town residents seeking their comments. Those who described issues in a particular area of town matched up with the problem areas identified by the wastewater utility.

The town’s sanitary sewer system was installed in the 1950s. A lot of those sewer lines have been infiltrated with tree roots or are just old and breaking down.

Hunsucker worked with Shannon McLeod of Priority Project Resources of Greensburg to prepare the grant application.

On July 22, Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs announced Brownstown was one of 12 rural Hoosier communities receiving Wastewater Drinking Water Program grant funding.

Brownstown will receive $450,000 and have to come up with $300,000 in matching funds, which most likely will be done through a bond issue, said town council President John Nolting.

The state distributes Community Development Block Grant Program funds to rural communities in an effort to ensure health and safety and improve the quality of life for citizens.

The goals of the Wastewater Drinking Water Program are to protect the health and environment, reduce utility rates for low- to moderate-income communities and improve rural infrastructure to enable long-term economic growth. Eligible projects include many aspects of wastewater improvements and drinking water system improvements.

After the first phase of the work is completed, Hunsucker said he will reevaluate the system’s flow and look into making updates and upgrades to the town’s two lift stations.

Since the town received a grant for the first phase, McLeod said the second phase won’t be eligible for grant funding from OCRA until seven years transpires. That could be bonded, and the town could seek grants from other sources.

Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at or 812-523-7080.