Reservoir will lift many (economic) boats

LaBELLE — There will be ample opportunity for construction firms locally and in all of South Florida to cash in on lucrative contracts with the SFWMD as it finalizes plans for the gigantic C-43 Reservoir.

Hendry County Commissioners Karson Turner and Michael Swindle were particularly pleased when Water Management District project chief Thomas McKernan mentioned the efforts the district has made to recruit and pre-qualify the most capable companies.

“Back in May, we had an ‘Industry Day.’ We wanted anybody interested in bidding this project to come out, see the site and the size and magnitude of this project,” he said, “but we also wanted them to be introduced to some of the local guys who work out here that know the area. We met in West Palm Beach, gave a big presentation, and the following day we came out and drove the site, let these guys talk to each other, hand out cards and started dialogue between some of the local guys and some of the bigger firms,” Mr. McKernan explained.

He went on to state that although the prime contractor will be a large company — “it has to be, to bond a job of this size — but there’s also an SBE requirement that they’ll be required to take on local, smaller firms as well. We also prequalified those contractors, ended up with six, on the four major features — the dam being the primary one, the soil/bentonite cutoff wall, the soil-cement lining and the structures. We didn’t want these guys coming out, this being their first rodeo, so we made sure they were prequalified on jobs of this size and scope.” The engineers’ estimate is nearly $700 million.

Mr. Turner commended officials on making it a point to engage the local contractors and recognizing local expertise. He termed the South Florida Water Management District “an economic engine,” adding, “That’s a huge thing to a community like Hendry or Glades.”

Commissioner Swindle asked whether any other reservoirs were being contemplated for along the Caloosahatchee.

Mr. McKernan asked Libby Pigman, SFWMD’s Glades representative who was present, to answer, and she said that “the Boma Reservoir is as well, but those are the only two I know.”

“Have you all put it into layman’s terms,” Mr. Swindle asked. Mr. McKernan said he’d have to defer to the “science guys,” but he said “all I know is that we’re putting in 170,000 acre-feet of water.”

Ms. Pigman explained later that Boma is the name of a ranch, “and the district with the help of Lee County purchased that ranch, and there’s a pilot project on that site. They’re doing tests out there to see how much nitrogen they can remove from the water at that location. And they used it during some of the high water problems that we had for storage.”

The short-listed firms that are prequalified for the C-43 construction are, according to the SFWMD website: Barnard Construction Co.; C-43 Water Management Builders (Salini Impregilo and Lane Construction); Granite Thalle Joint Venture (Granite Construction and Thalle Construction); P&J Morgan Joint Venture (Phillips & Jordan and Morgan Corp.); RJB Constructors Joint Venture (Rust Constructors and John Brothers Construction); and Kiewit Infrastructure South Co.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment