There’s a drama and ritual to opening bids: the tearing of sealed envelopes, the shuffling of papers.

About 30 people attended the Lake Delhi district trustees board meeting Thursday afternoon. Following the rejection of higher-than-expected bids last fall, the primary question for many on Thursday was, how much will it cost?

At least one bid on this second phase of Lake Delhi reconstruction came in well below the engineers’ estimate of $6.8 million for the project.

General Constructors, Inc., of Bettendorf, Ill., submitted the low bid of $6,185,693.

Other bids were as follows:

• Minnowa Construction of Harmony, Minn., $7,457,009

• ASI-ECI of Pueblo West, Colo., $7,782,905

• Lunda Construction of Little Chute, Wis., $8,279,769

Lake district trustees may award the bid as early as Thursday, Feb. 5. They will meet at 6:30 p.m. that day in the lake district trustees’ building (the former Maquoketa Valley administrative building) across from Maquoketa Valley High School.

At that time, they will examine the recommendation of engineers Stanley Consultants. Stanley is required to recommend the lowest “responsible” bidder, and if the lowest bidder does not fit that criteria, the next-lowest bidder will be considered.

The board also has the choice to reject all bids.

Meanwhile, the first phase of construction is underway. The lake has been drained since 2010, when heavy rainwaters burst the Maquoketa River dam, causing significant damage.

Attendee Dave Kruse asked board members whether they had enough money to fund the bids that were presented that evening.

“We’re going to be very tight on this project,” said board chair Steve Leonard. “We’re going to need every penny available.”

When pressed, he added that “certainly the two bottom” bids could be paid by the lake district, with current funds and pledges.

A public hearing and vote on the lake district’s budget is planned for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 26, in the lake district building.

The board also on Thursday afternoon approved an approximately $53,000 change order on construction now underway. The change order will pay for grouting while subcontractors are already mobilized.

Board member and retired engineer Pat Colgan said that the grouting could reduce the risk of later construction, some of which does not rest on bedrock.

In other lake news, Leonard said that a dredging committee is working with government agencies to allow minor dredging around boat docks and lifts without a complicated permit process.