The additional funding needed to repair the Lake Neva standpipe in White Lake Township and avert potential disaster was approved unanimously by the Oakland County Board of Commissioners last week.
The board had initially denied additional funding after questions had been raised as to why the cost of the project had increased.
In September, Oakland County agreed to finance the $150,000 originally required for the project. However, the money necessary for the project had since increased to approximately $250,000.
A major reason for this is because the initial engineering estimate for the project — which was approximately $87,000 — was significantly lower than what contractors bid on the project.
Of the four contractors that the project was sent to for bids, only one bid came back. That bid was for $187,000.
After factoring in administrative, legal, and other costs, the project costs came in around $250,000, according to White Lake Township Supervisor Greg Baroni.
Officials were unsure of the reason for the discrepancy between the initial estimate and the incoming bids. However, it may have to do with the risk involved in the project, as one contractor asked for a $20 million bond in case something went wrong.
Nevertheless, the Oakland County Board of Commissioners opted not to approve the additional funding on Sept. 22.
However, given the potentially dire consequences of the situation, county and township officials decided to try again — with greater success this time, as the Board of Commissioners agreed to grant the additional $97,000 needed for the project.
Time is of the essence, as the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) believes the standpipe will not last another freeze-thaw cycle during the upcoming winter, as its corrosion has led to a state of disrepair.
The standpipe sits in the water and allows water to pass underneath Biscayne Road, which is where the lake is situated off of Bogie Lake Road in White Lake Township.
If the standpipe were to break, the consequences could be a major public health and safety issue, according to township and county officials.
Commissioner Jim Runestad (R-Waterford, White Lake) said that if the dilapidated standpipe fails, the damage could total around $20 million.
“There were no issues (this time). Everyone is fully aware of the emergency health and safety nature of the project,” he said. “I’m pleased that, with so many departments and entities having to be involved with making this work, that it’s been pretty seamless with everybody coming together to get this done.”
Added Baroni, “I would like to thank the commissioners in Oakland County for their assistance and help.”
The township is expected to increase the amount to be raised by a special assessment district (SAD) on Tuesday, Oct. 18 to cover the additional funding the county granted. Officials expect to break ground on the repairs in early November.