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SELECT THE RIGHT LAND APPLICATION CONTRACTOR: USE COMPETITIVE NEGOTIATION

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The Trinity River Authority of Texas (Authority) owns and operates several water and wastewater treatment plants. The largest plant is the Central Regional Wastewater System's (CRWS) Treatment Plant, located between Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas. This 162-milliongallon-per-day (mgd) plant serves 20 customer cities, including portions of Dallas and Fort Worth and the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The urban location of this plant makes it very difficult to dispose of or reuse its biosolids locally. Previously, the Authority had bid land application services for the lime-stabilized and dewatered Class B biosolids. Although all biosolids had been land applied for the past 5 years, there had been difficulties in doing so. This contract would end in March 2001, and a new contract would have to be approved to satisfy the Authority's bidding requirements.

The Authority hired CH2M HILL to assist in developing and bidding a new contract. The Authority expressed concerns about selecting a qualified contractor, for they were aware that a less experienced low bidder might not fully understand the needs of a very large treatment plant with more than 200,000 wet tons per year of biosolids to be land applied around the densely populated Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area. These discussions led CH2M HILL to recommend a competitive negotiation approach.

A detailed scope of work and preliminary contract were prepared and given to all interested contractors. Several formal meetings were held with each contractor beginning in late October 2000. After three weeks of intense effort by the contractors and the Authority's selection committee, a recommendation was made, and the contract was subsequently approved by the Authority's Board of Directors. A notice to proceed was issued to the contractor on schedule on March 1, 2001.

The key to the success of this process was the ability of the Authority's staff to meet with the people from each firm who would be responsible for the project. Issues were openly discussed so that all parties fully understood all of the details of the project. All the bidders commented that they were impressed with the competitive negotiation process and its results, even if they were not selected. Indeed, all the bidders became intimately familiar with all facets of the plant's biosolids program and the Authority's goals. With this understanding, the contractors were able to comfortably bid the project with minimal risk.

To summarize, this is a new process in the wastewater industry, a successful process that allows a municipal utility to clearly select the best contractor to meet its needs at the best, though not necessarily the lowest, price. Fortunately, this process is applicable to all utilities.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2001-01-01

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