Suit seeks restitution for pipeline and faulty pump station

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By Juanice Gray, jgray@natchitochestimes.com

The Cane River Waterway Commission (CRWC) has spent nearly four years and almost $5.8 million on a pipeline and pumping station with no usable return for its investment. The CRWC contracted Womack and Sons Construction Group of Harrisonburg, La., through the state contract bidding process Nov. 18, 2014, to construct a pipeline to provide access to pump water from the Red River into Cane River Lake when water levels of Cane River Lake becomes critical.

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According to a suit filed Thursday, July 26, the contractor has not met the deadline nor the specifications outlined in the project, therefore the CRWC is seeking full restitution. Womack and Sons was contracted for both phases of the project. Phase I (first contract) was the pipeline and Phase II (second contract) was the pumping station. Phase I, at a cost of $1.8 million was completed Oct. 30, 2015, and on or about Nov. 21, 2016, the contract for Phase II, in the amount of $3.9 million was entered.

The suit states both components, the pipeline and pump station, according to contract documents, must be complete and operable together. The pipeline has no value without a pump station capable of pumping and filtering the required amount of water. In this instance that is 30,000 gallons per minute. The water originates in Hampton’s Lake (an oxbow of the Red River) and feeds into Cane River Lake. The suit states “…the failure of the Pump Station makes the Pipeline similarly valueless to the Commission.” Completion was scheduled for March 25, 2018, and included allowable weather delays.

The suit alleges the contractor has not completed the construction as outlined by the second contract. The pump station was tested Feb. 21, March 27, May 17 and July 2 and at each testing failed to operate in accordance with the specifications. At the July 2 testing, 14 weeks after the proposed completion date, it was only capable of pumping 10,000 gallons per minute, or one-third of what was required. At a rate of only 10,000 gallons per minute, the system cannot fulfill its purpose.

Since the deadline was not met, nor the required output from the pump station, the liquidated damages clause of the contract was triggered.

CRWC is seeking a judgement for all damages as well as attorney’s fees, costs, interest and all other relief allowed by law. The suit was recorded in the Clerk of Courts office July 26.