By MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ
The City of San Benito has filed a lawsuit against the engineers and companies involved in the construction of a $17 million water plant that has been rendered inoperable.
Defendants named in the lawsuit are Evoqua Water Technologies, LLC; U.S. Filter Wastewater Group Inc.; Siemens Corporation; CSA Construction, Inc.; and Cruz-Hogan Consultants, Inc. Some of the allegations made in the suit include: negligence, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, breach of warranty, breach of contract and violating the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
The City is also seeking damages.
The San Benito City Commission met on Tuesday, Aug. 19, with attorneys from Houston-based law firm Arnold & Itkin LLP to consider taking legal action regarding the problems experienced with Water Treatment Plant No. 2. On Friday, the City issued the following statement in response to San Benito News inquiries on the outcome of the meeting in question:
The City of San Benito’s newest water treatment plant has experienced significant problems that required its closure. The failure of the new plant to operate as expected has led the City Commission to consult with multiple outside parties, including top industry specialists. We came to the conclusion that there was no choice but to file a lawsuit against the parties responsible for the plant’s deficiencies. Resolution of the issues at little or no cost to the residents remains a top priority for the City Commission.
The City’s goal in filing a lawsuit is to make sure that the City and its residents get what they were promised by the parties that designed, built, and provided important equipment for the plant. What the City contracted for was a plant that could treat 6 million gallons of water per day with the ability to expand to 10 million gallons in the future. This plant has never come close to that, and its maintenance has been very costly.
For the time being, the City has been able to meet current needs by relying on its older water treatment plant.”
As previously reported, a study conducted by Lou Portillo and Associates PLLC as well as Coym, Rehmet & Gutierrez Engineering LP stated that the $17 million Plant No. 2 “never operated efficiently except in the early months of operation.”
In June, Assistant City Manager Hector Jalomo said Plant No. 2’s membrane filters may have malfunctioned and estimated up to $100,000 in repairs. However, concerns that the facility’s membrane was at fault have since been reported.
The study also stated that Plant No. 2 produces approximately 2.4 million gallons of water per day (MGD) and 2.8 million “with great effort on the part of City staff,” which is less than half of what the facility was intended to generate.
Water Treatment Plant No. 1, which was once deemed antiquated and potentially incapable of continuing to serve a growing San Benito, remains operable and continues to serve the citizens’ water needs.
Editor’s Note: Details of the City of San Benito’s lawsuit will be available in our full story, scheduled for publication in the Aug. 31 edition of the San Benito News. Online readers can also subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking here.