Note: This story was last updated at 9 a.m. March 30.
The Oak Ridge City Council on Tuesday approved a one-year, $2.1 million contract extension for water supplied to Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Y-12 National Security Complex, but a few members questioned whether the U.S. Department of Energy is paying a fair rate.
The one-year extension is expected to give the city time to have a qualified third-party engineering firm study the city’s aging water plant on Pine Ridge above Y-12, consider what is needed, and develop options that could help Oak Ridge decide whether to renovate the 70-year-old facility—or build a new one at a new site.
City officials said bringing the existing plant up to code could cost $16 million or more. It was transferred to the city from DOE in 2000, more than 15 years ago. Officials declined to estimate how much it could cost to build a new one, although it’s also said to be in the multi-million-dollar range.
Among the challenges at the water plant now are a leak of 3,000 gallons per day. The city staff is not sure where the leak originates or whether the water that is leaking has already been treated, and so far they haven’t been able to stop the leak. [Read more…]