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Project manager to blame?
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Wednesday, 20 February 2008 13:24

The Camp Verde Sanitary District Board is still looking into who was responsible for a costly shutdown of a sewer line expansion project ordered last month by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.
ADEQ shut construction down just after the new year when officials realized the district hadn’t obtained a necessary permit to begin putting pipe in the ground.

While ADEQ has since allowed the project to resume in exchange for the district’s agreement to upgrade some pumps on Main Street, the shutdown still cost the district well over $100,000 and the price tag keeps going up.

The pumps, originally estimated to cost $50,000 to improve, will likely cost “substantially more,” said district employee Rick Spears.

Still, the shutdown may not have as much of a financial impact on the district as the numbers would suggest, said Eric Lauren, project manager with Coe and Van Loo, the engineering firm that made the final revisions to the new sewer plans.

Lauren said his company, hired to replace former engineering firm HDR in 2004, had been told by the previous district board that all of the permits had been applied for and there was no need to resubmit the plans to ADEQ. At the time, that was true. The necessary permits were in place, but one key permit expired in 2006.

Coe and Van Loo made some changes to the original plans submitted by HDR, but Lauren said the consensus was that the changes weren’t significant enough to warrant re-submission to ADEQ.

Normally, resubmitting the plans would have been “normal procedure,” Lauren said, but given the circumstances the company decided against it, considering they were operating under the assumption that all the permits were in place; resubmitting the plans could have doubled Coe and Van Loo’s $32,500 bill for their work, Lauren said.

Lauren suggested the board look for a silver lining.

While it’s impossible to know for sure, Lauren said if plans had been resent to ADEQ, “they could have been more adamant about redoing the plans.”

Lauren pointed to some concerns raised over whether some of the slopes of the new lines were adequate.

If ADEQ had re-reviewed the new plans before the work started, the district might have had a lot more work to do, from an engineering standpoint, than upgrading pumps on Main Street, Lauren said.

“We benefited this time from the tremendous pressure on ADEQ [to keep the project going],” Lauren said.

District Board Chairman Rob Witt said in that light, the biggest costs of the shutdown were in terms of demobilizing the contractors and now having to bring them back into the field. Spears said that some work on the new pipes should resume Monday, Feb. 25, with the rest of the project up and running by the second week in March.

The district board also had set aside time last week to question former district chairwoman Suzy Burnside about the lack of the necessary permits for the project.

While Burnside e-mailed the board she had nothing further to contribute to the issue, she defended her board in a letter to district attorney Brett Rigg.
Burnside wrote that any original problems with the plans for the new sewer lines had been met to ADEQ’s satisfaction, and that the permit in question had actually been reissued by ADEQ in December 2006. Prior to that date, no further changes had been made to the plans, Burnside wrote.

The new board was seated in January 2007, and Burnside wrote that she has no knowledge of any changes to the plans that were or weren’t made after that.


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