City of Montrose Suing to Recoup Costs of Water Company’s Mistakes
by William Woody
Nov 10, 2013 | 1689 views | 0 0 comments | 85 85 recommendations | email to a friend | print

MONTROSE — The City of Montrose is going to court to try and recoup some costs associated with construction mishaps, claiming Tri-County Water employees failed to properly mark utility lines which resulted in multiple ruptures during the city's construction of a new water pipe last year. 

The city council voted unanimously to seek a total of $38,000 through a delayed construction claim for losses in time, man hours, and equipment usage following the repeated incidents. 

Per state statute, utility companies must survey and mark areas, or "locates," of utility lines before construction can begin. The city designed and surveyed its 16-inch water line near Sunshine Road before digging last year; it mistakenly struck the utility line as many as "5 to 6" times, according to city public works director John Harris. 

The state statute stipulates that locates should be marked no more than 18 inches from utility lines. Harris said the locates Tri-County submitted to the city were off by three feet, and in one spot, by 16 feet. 

Harris said though there was no "significant" danger to city crew members at the time of the ruptures, the delays which resulted were "inconveniences" to city crew members, Tri-County employees and area residents who suffered brief suspensions in water services. He said the city has spent $60,000 to redesign and move its water line by more than 10 feet feet in one spot, in order to avoid further interference with the Tri-County line. He said the city is not trying to recoup any of those costs at this time. 

"We have reached out to the utility company and they have not been fruitful negotiations or talks," City Attorney Stephen Alcorn told council Tuesday evening, adding that $6,000 of the total it is seeking are associated legal fees.  

Harris told the council new practices require utility companies to lay metal wire on top of underground lines, so they can be surveyed more easily in the future. He said he believed the Tri-County Water line was laid before this practice was initiated. 

"These things happen, it's wasn't the end of the world. The city has made similar mistakes in the past, but we were trying to be responsible and work with the company. And now we have reached an impasse," Harris told The Watch. 

At press time, a call to Tri-County Water seeking comment had not been returned.

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