Kawailani water tank cost goes up, again


Hawaii County will pay another $400,000 for a water tank completed in 2004 that hasn’t yet been put into use.

Water Supply Board members Tuesday morning approved another $420,000 for the Kawailani water tank work, this time to reseal the Hilo tank. The approval came after a brief executive session, which board members requested to get a review of the project’s history, including litigation that culminated in a 2011 settlement with project consultant Wesley R. Segawa and Associates.

The changes bring the project total to $2.3 million, up from the original estimate of $1.9 million.

The board’s approval also included extending the deadline to complete the tank work until December 31.

“This is more money than I expected,” board member David Greenwell said. “I wouldn’t like to see them here at Christmas” asking for more time or more money.

Board member Rick Robinson questioned why representatives from the contractor doing the work, Jas. W. Glover, didn’t attend the meeting. Water Department Manager-Chief Engineer Quirino Antonio said the company representatives spoke with him, but they weren’t comfortable attending the meeting. He said he wasn’t trying to point fingers or assign blame for the delays and design flaws that have kept the county from using the tank.

“It’s nice to see them at the (construction) site instead,” Antonio said. “I’d rather have them there than here.”

Antonio told board members his engineers estimate a new water tank would still cost roughly the same as what the county will end up paying for the Kawailani tank. The increased cost is “still way within that ballpark,” he added.

Water Supply Deputy Manager Keith Okamoto said the department is keeping a close eye on the additional work, checking to make sure the contractor’s workers are keeping on task, as well as keeping track of equipment on site and being used.

Board members approved another extension Tuesday morning, this one to give Orchid Isle Auto Center an extra 45 days to deliver two service trucks ordered in January. If the board had not signed off on the extension — Antonio initially recommended against approval — Orchid Isle would have forfeited $100 each day the trucks were late after the Aug. 18 delivery deadline. The two trucks cost about $76,000, and one was to be assigned to Hilo, the other Kona.

Jay Blake, fleet sales manager for Orchid Isle, and Michael Soich, regional sales manager for The Knapheide Manufacturing Company, which performed the “upfitting” of the trucks, attended the meeting to argue for the extension. Blake explained that, after a similar issue last year when Orchid Isle ordered a vehicle for the department, and needed a 30-day extension, he contracted with a different company to outfit the Ford-built trucks to the department’s specifications.

Orchid Isle submitted its order to Ford the day the water board approved the purchase, Blake said. Delays by Knapheide and Ford, which were out of his control, are making the vehicle delivery late.

Soich said the improving economy, and municipalities across the country deciding to upgrade fleet vehicles after years of deferred replacement, caused some of the delays. He said Knapheide would accept partial blame, because the company was having a hard time keeping up with demand at its Kansas City plant. But part of the blame goes to Ford, which took possession of the trucks June 10 and had not yet shipped them to Hawaii.

The trucks are on the West Coast now, he said. Blake said they could arrive by the third week of September.

“We still need the vehicles,” Antonio said. “We did initially deny the extension. Hearing what they’re saying, I believe they’re sincere.”

Further, he said “for us to penalize the vendor, it might cause a problem in the future where their bids go higher or (they submit) no bids at all.”

Blake said after two years with similar problems, the company is questioning whether it is “prudent” to participate in future bids.