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The buildings surrounding the city of Laramie’s wellheads will be getting an upgrade, starting with the design process this winter.

The long-awaited project will not only improve outdated infrastructure but also wellhead safety in case of emergencies.

Part of its consent agenda, the Laramie City Council voted Dec. 17 to approve a professional services agreement for $73,640 with a contingency of $7,364 to Engineering Associates for the design of six new wellhead buildings.

Four wells at the Pope Well Field and two Turner Wells at City Springs will be upgraded over the next three fiscal years, with the city budgeting to complete two per year.

“If, for some reason, the design takes longer than July 1, then what we will do in the budget process is we’ll just roll that money forward and then we’ll end up doing four the next year instead of two,” city Utility Division Manager Cal Van Zee told the Boomerang Monday.

The design phase of the project should take an estimated three months to complete, Van Zee said, and includes constructing a brick and mortar building and solid foundation at each wellhead.

The more structurally-sound building will be a much-needed improvement compared to the older structures currently there.

“The buildings themselves, they’ve actually been in the budget for a couple of years,” Van Zee said. “There are fiberglass buildings that are out there now, and basically you can punch a hole in it with a hammer.”

Additionally, the plans call for upgrades to the electrical infrastructure at the wellheads, which are currently “all exposed to the weather at this point,” Van Zee said. Upgrades will also improve area lighting, heating and the wellhead communication systems.

While it’s been on the city’s backburner for some time, Van Zee said the project was prompted further after the Department of Homeland Security noted some concerns about the wellfields during its evaluation of the city’s water and wastewater systems last year.

“They really helped us to be able to identify things that they saw as a priority that we needed to address,” he added.

The DHS particularly emphasized potential security systems and concerns for water infrastructure in more remote sites, according to documents presented to the council for the meeting.

Additionally, the building upgrades will fulfill piping clearance requirements from the Environmental Protection Agency. Van Zee said the distance from the top of the wellhead to the ground will be extended, as the distance is currently too short to meet the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality and EPA guidelines.

“There’s a lot of win-win with it,” he added.

Engineering Associates was one of two firms that responded to the city’s Request for Qualifications period earlier this fall. After reviewing both proposals and interviewing teams from both Western Water Associates and Engineering Associates, city staff recommended the latter for the design project.

Both companies have offices in Laramie, as well as in other cities around the state and Rocky Mountain region.

Once the design is complete and approved by the DEQ, Van Zee said the city is hoping to start advertising for construction bids in the spring.

“I don’t expect it to exceed the three-month design time,” he said. “It’s one of those projects, it should go very smoothly.”

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