Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 21, 2018

Throwing money down a hole

Council members narrowly approves change order for Well 6, thinking the project already complete
Aug 09, 2018
Photo by: David Hotle Work on the Wells in Washington continues with a new project to add a level meter. The project has lasted over a year longer than anticipated.

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


While the Washington City Council believe a change order to a project to add a level sensor to Well 6 is a good idea, several members were surprised to learn the project, which had been scheduled to be complete on April 1, 2017, was still going on.

During the regular council meeting Tuesday, Aug. 7, the proposed change order was approved 3-2, with council members Steve Gault and Brendan DeLong voting against the change to protest the lateness of the Well 6 project, which included work on other wells. During discussion, DeLong asked why the contract’s substantial completion date had gone from April 1, 2017 to July 12, 2018.

“This has been an extremely unusual project,” Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson said. “I can tell you that I would not recommend hiring this contractor again for anything. I can tell you the quality of work that has been done is OK, but I think the delays have been ridiculous.”

While a name of a contractor was never said during the meeting, according to council documents Northway Well and Pump Co. of Marion is the contractor doing the project.

Mayor Jaron Rosien also has problems with the addition of 143 days of contract time. He admits not being satisfied with the answers he has received for the overages.

“Even with the addition of this change order there are still a solid 60 days they are behind,” Rosien said. “There is a possibility of $1,000 of liquidated damages. It is about $1,000 per day for a total of $60,000. According to what I am being told it still is a substantial delay and not even including the 143 days we would add to this. I have not been comfortable with all the information I have received but that is how I understand it now.”

The project has been extended by a total of 437 days. Hinson admits he has never seen anything like this in his career. Even with the extension, Hinson said there are 60 days that are unjustified the firm is over. He also said the project is not done.

Well 6 is operational, Hinson stressed, saying the project is needed. He also admitted frustration at the progress on Well 6.

“It just has not proceeded in any sort of reasonable time frame,” he said. He also admitted communication about the project could have been better. “Our position would be the majority of that is their fault. Some of it is not their fault because it is work we requested that does take additional time. There were unforeseen things. We feel that there is a lot they could have done or done better to conclude this project.”

Hinson said additional time was merited for additions the city made to the project and that there had been some delays that weren’t the contractor’s fault. He also said the contractor has been made aware that the city is unhappy with the time that has been taken and that there still is the outstanding issue with grout.

The project is an extension of the project that restored Well 6, which was reopened after Well 7 malfunctioned in March 2016, leaving only one well serving the city. All wells have since been restored and are actively pumping water. During the July 6, 2017, council meeting, the council learned a $45,000 acid treatment was needed for the project to recase Well 6 due to a production test that discovered the well was producing only about half the water it had previously. The treatment restored the water flow. Well 6 was drilled in 1955 and is a 1,900 foot deep well to the Jordan Aquafir.

“I was on vacation a year ago when the council had a special session and had to consider the acidization of the well,” Hinson said. “We contend the reason for the lost flow is the contractor put too much grouting in it.”

Hinson said this is an issue that still has to be negotiated, as the contractor wants to charge the city for the acidization work.

Part of the Well 6 project was to make the city’s three wells all match and be controllable in the same way.

Hinson stressed the original contract was something the city wanted done in a certain period of time. He said about 400 days have been added to the contract, which he called “insane.”

DeLong said he couldn’t support the change order, commenting he believes the contractor thinks they are “getting away with some stuff.”

“As a bottom line we have an issue to negotiate with the contractor on and we have 60 days beyond the contract, which is 60,000,” Hinson said. “I am comfortable this puts us in a position to get this resolved the way we want to get it resolved.”

While declining to give away city strategy, he said the city will represent its interests.

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