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Decision delayed on city well bids

Low-bidder vows a vigorous protest if his bid is not accepted
The City of Prineville will wait at least another two weeks before awarding a bid for its latest well drilling project.
   Prineville City Council decided not to accept the recommendation of their specialist to award the bid to second lowest bidder Boart Longyear/Geo-Tech with a bid of $454,749. They also decided not to accept the lowest bidder Western Water Development Corp. ($419,355), as is policy, when the bidder's submitted plan of action did not comply with the predetermined method of drilling.
   "The (Western) bid as submitted does not comply," said Jeff Barry of GSI Water Solutions, the specialist the City of Prineville hired to make a recommendation. "We excluded certain drilling technologies from the project because we wanted to make sure that the technologies used would get the job done quickly and with the least likelihood for problems."
   Robert Buckner, representing Western at the meeting, said he would mount a "vigorous protest" if the city did not accept his, the lowest bid.
   "By not accepting us as the low bidder they are going to increase cost to the city of Prineville and they are going to undermine a local business," Buckner said. He added he is confident his company could get the 260-foot well dug by the end of June deadline using their cable tool drill.
   Specialist Jeff Barry said he could not recommend Western as the bidder representing the least amount of risk posed to the city.
   "The cable tool method could result in a delay of the project," Barry said. "Furthermore, the drilling equipment Western has is not capable of advancing casing in the production well, therefore there is more risk of a delay if a different drill method was needed at the site."
   He said both of the other bidders, Boart Longyear and Schneider Equipment - whose bid was most expensive at $566,920 - proposed much faster drilling techniques.
   "We have a significant urgency in making sure this job gets done on time," Barry said. Buckner said he would use the air rotary to drill the test well, but wanted to reserve the option to use the cable tool drill on the production well.
   "We would try it with the air rotary (tool)," he said. "If we could do it, I said (to the city) we would do it that way - for the same cost in our bid."
   Buckner said he has a track record of success in central Oregon, including several projects for the Cities of Redmond and Bend. He also disagrees with Barry's assessment of casing advancement, saying the cable tool easily advances casing.
   "We have data that backs up our timeline from previous drilling projects," he said. He added he believes the air rotary method, preferred by the city's specialist, can cause disruption to surrounding property and is not necessary for digging a relatively small well. Buckner encountered a similar situation with the City of Redmond nearly 10 years ago. In that situation, the council awarded Western the bid, but the council was split 4 to 3 on the issue, Buckner said.
   "We have saved the city (of Redmond) $1 million since then," he added.
   A motion to accept Barry's recommendation of Boart Longyear died.
   "It's a Catch-22," said council member Dean Noyes, saying if the council accepted Western's bid, the other companies could potentially protest as Western's submission did not meet the city specialist's established tooling requirements.
   The Prineville City Council instructed Barry to re-bid the project, with the hope a bid that meets both the city's equipment and cost requirements comes in.