Design costs for the Dungeness off-channel reservoir project have exceeded estimates, forcing Clallam County to split the work into phases, commissioners heard this week.
The long-planned, $32 million reservoir off River Road southwest of Sequim will provide 1,600 acre-feet of storage capacity to hold Dungeness River water until the late summer and early fall when irrigators and fish need it the most.
County staff members have been negotiating with Anchor QEA, a national firm with offices in Seattle and Tacoma, since April on schedule, cost and scope of work for structural and civil engineering services.
“The cost for a full, detailed design is proving to be far more expensive than we had anticipated,” county hydrogeologist Carol Creasey told commissioners on June 28.
“I got sticker shock because it was almost double.”
Creasey said the proposed full design was about $1.2 million more than the $1.5 million to $1.7 million she had originally projected in 2016.
“To try and reduce that funding gap, we’re phasing the project, and I have money for Phase 1,” Creasey said.
Phase 1 will be a 30 percent preliminary design. It will cost about $900,000, Creasey said.
Commissioners on July 13 will consider approving funds for Phase 1. Those costs will largely be reimbursed by a 2019 state Department of Ecology streamflow restoration grant, according to a staff memo.
Creasey said the goal is to complete Phase 1 by the end of November to qualify for federal grants to help pay for construction of the reservoir.
“It’s pretty important to get 30 percent design done,” Creasey said.
“With that process, we have a much better shot at actually getting funding for construction.”
No commissioner objected Monday to Creasey’s request to break up the design into phases.
“I appreciate your honesty,” commissioner Bill Peach told Creasey.
“I know what it’s like to manage a project and have it surprise.”
Creasey said her original estimate was based on the best information at the time.
Anchor QEA’s proposed bid included a project analysis, design, permitting and preparation of plans, specif¡cations and cost estimates.
Anchor QEA has experience working with Clallam County, Clallam Conservation District and the Dungeness Water Users Association, Creasey said.
The proposed off-channel reservoir would have an infiltration area for overland flow and irrigation infrastructure upgrades on state Department of Natural Resources parcels off River Road, according to a staff memo.
The 88-acre reservoir would sit atop a 320-acre parcel that will become a Clallam County park.
Water would be diverted from the Dungeness River via Highland Irrigation District’s point of diversion and conveyed through the irrigation district’s canals.
“Water would be diverted and stored in the reservoir during the winter, spring, and early summer, when flows in the Dungeness River are high and water is available,” the memo said.
“Stored water would be released to meet irrigation needs.”
County officials will discuss the project in a public meeting after Phase 1 is complete, Creasey said.
“We can expect a fair amount of engagement with the public this fall with a certain level of specificity that we just haven’t had yet, which I think will make the conversations with the public a lot more meaningful,” said commissioner Mark Ozias, who represents the Sequim area.
In addition to her negotiations for the design, Creasey has been conducting individual outreach with farmers and irrigators, Ozias said.
The reservoir was first envisioned more than 12 years ago by a working group that included Clallam County, the city of Sequim, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, Dungeness Water Users Association, Clallam Conservation District, Ecology and the Washington Water Trust.