Grass Valley moves ahead with upgrades to wastewater treatment, building security |

Grass Valley moves ahead with upgrades to wastewater treatment, building security

In late 2012, water was pumped Tuesday from one primary to another at the Grass Valley WasteWater Treatment Plant located off Freeman Lane, where more than 3,000 gallons of untreated or partially treated wastewater overflowed into Wolf Creek Sunday amid county-wide flooding.
The Union file photo/John Hart | The Union

Grass Valley’s city council members voted to reject a bid protest involving a $3.6 million contract to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant.

The city had received three bids for the improvement project and opted to go with Idaho-based Record Steel and Construction Inc., City Manager Tim Kiser told the council. It subsequently received a protest from losing bidder Telstar Instruments, which is based in Northern California.

Telstar in its protest letter claimed that Record Steel and Construction did not meet stated requirements that the vendor be located within 200 miles and did not have enough experience with a required software system. Telstar’s letter also referenced a message on the city’s website that encouraged citizens to support the local economy.

“Awarding a project to a firm based out of Boise, Idaho, with no local presence in California does not fit with the mission of the City,” according to the protest letter.

According to Kiser, the requirements listed in the protest letter were referencing an attachment clearly marked “draft” that came from a 2017 iteration of the project, which was included for informational purposes.

Kiser noted during Tuesday’s council meeting that if Telstar’s staff had questions about the bid specifications, they should have asked for clarification.

Ben Herston, Telstar’s Sacramento branch manager, told the council that if his company had not tried to meet those requirements, its bid would have been much lower.

Herston argued the city should strive to hire locally, even if that was not a requirement.

“You should want that money to be spent here in the community,” he said. “The money spent on the project will come back to you. Local people will work on this project.”

Kiser noted that Record Steel and Construction Inc. has assured the city that they can meet the requirements listed in the bid protest.

The council voted to move forward with the contract, with councilman Jason Fouyer recusing himself. The scope of the work involves the complete replacement and modernizing of the monitoring and control system for the wastewater treatment plant, as well as the construction of a septage/debris receiving system to better manage the acceptance of untreated effluent. An optional bid item is an upgrade of the computer system for the city’s water treatment plant.

The council also approved a $386,736 contract to improve security at City Hall and the police department.

The City Hall video system is antiquated and in need of replacement, Police Chief Alex Gammelgard told the council, adding the improvements will “bring us into the 21st century.”

The “primitive” door access control system on a number of doors at City Hall also is failing, he said in his staff report. At the police department, the majority of the door access system is a manual system, other than the access system for the evidence unit.

Access control and a robust security camera program are essential, Gammelgard said. The project will add 13 cameras to City Hall and will update the obsolete panic alarm system. Door access to controlled spaces will be via a newly issued picture ID card. The police department’s systems will be integrated with the City Hall systems and eventually with the city’s other facilities to include fire stations and the wastewater and water treatment plants.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

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