The Philomath City Council moved forward with a plan to test the integrity of a concrete slab poured this summer as part of the new reservoir project. (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

The city of Philomath plans to move forward with the hiring of an independent consultant to test the concrete slab that was poured in late June as part of the construction of a new $4.2 million water reservoir on South Ninth Street.

The work could cost much more than originally anticipated, however, and on Wednesday evening, the Philomath City Council came out of an executive session and approved up to $60,000 to be spent on the evaluation.

“We have a $1.2 million contingency that’s just sitting there in case we have any issues that we need to use it for,” Philomath Mayor Chas Jones said when asked after the meeting about what funds would be used to pay for the work.

“It sounds like we’re going to reach out to the contractor and see how we can get on their schedule,” Jones added. “But I would expect it to be relatively soon.”

At its July meeting, the council approved spending no more than $30,000 on the hiring of a consultant.

The city and its engineering firm, Westech, fears that there could be structural issues with the concrete slab that might affect longevity. City Manager Chris Workman reported last month that RiverBend Materials had equipment problems that led to delays and didn’t meet time requirements for the pour. RiverBend’s team, however, believes the concrete slab has no defects despite those delays.

The concrete slab measures 110 feet in diameter and more than 2 feet thick. The reservoir will hold 1.5 million gallons of water. If structural issues are detected, the fix could cost up to $1 million, according to City Attorney Jim Brewer..

HP Civil Inc. of Stayton won the contract for the reservoir project in November. Marion Construction Co. of Clackamas is a subcontractor on the project that sourced the concrete from RiverBend.

Prior to Wednesday’s vote, the City Council had met for 20 minutes in a closed session as allowed for “consultation with legal counsel concerning legal rights and duties regarding current litigation or litigation likely to be filed.”

All seven members of the City Council were present for the special meeting. A regular meeting is scheduled for Aug. 28.

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.