Construction begins on Umatilla Basin Project


This week the Umatilla Basin Water Commission is signing some big checks — more than $200,000 for construction costs.

And construction on the long-awaited Umatilla Basin Project began today.

Swaggart Brothers, Inc., of Stanfield, won the first bid to perform “cluster improvements.” The company will upgrade a spot at the end of Greenwood Resource’s pipeline, where it maintains pressure for the system and feeds four circle pivots.

“What we’re basically doing is just completely upgrading it to still deliver that water at pressure where the Boardman tree farms always has, and also add equipment to deliver water at non-pressure to the recharge basin,”?said J.R. Cook, executive director of the UBWC. “It’s kind of the heart of our project.”

The improvements will be the first step before additional pipe is installed to get water where it will be pumped into the ground.

Today Swaggart Brothers is taking out the old cluster before it builds the new one to be put in its place next week.

That company’s bid, the only one, was for $52,699.20. But Cook said it will likely be reduced to less than $50,000 because the UBWC decided to use a less expensive valve than was originally in the bid.

The next step is buying 5,800 feet of 24-inch pipe.

That bid went to Elmer’s Irrigation &?Supplies, out of Hermiston.

Elmer’s had the lowest of three bids at $148,630.65. It also guaranteed the earliest delivery date, at no later than March 25.

Lastly, the UBWC accepted a $29,750 bid from Rod Anderson Construction, Inc. of Pendleton to install that pipe. Anderson’s was one of two bids, but the other bid did not meet the specifications the UBWC was asking for.

After the “critical”?step of the cluster improvements, Cook said he is hoping to get pipe shipped as soon as possible.

“Due to the sandy soil, you can’t dig the trench and wait,”?he said. “You have to dig the trench at the same time you run the pipe. Once we find out the pipe’s on its way, we’ll be coordinating with Anderson to begin instillation — as soon as the first shipment is laid on the ground out there.”

Cook and the UBWC are shooting to begin pumping water by April 1.

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