By Tim Leeds
Havre residents' and businesses' outdoor water use will be restricted next week as the city moves toward the next step in completing its water treatment plant upgrade but who will complete the upgrade is not certain.
Jeff Jensen said the new section of the treatment plant is ready for testing, and no outdoor water use will be allowed from 10 a.m. Sunday until 8 p.m. Thursday while testing is done.
Once the new section is proven workable, work will start to upgrade the old section of the plant, Jensen said.
The city and Williams Brothers Construction, the company doing the upgrade, are scheduling a meeting to discuss whether the company can meet the deadline for the project.
"We are doing our very best to complete the project on schedule," said John Williams of Spokane, owner and president of the company. "We have every intention to do that. We are confident we can do that if we have cooperation with everybody involved."
The original contract required Williams Brothers to complete the project by Oct. 31, 2001. The contract was amended Nov. 17, granting an extension to July 31 for completing substantial work on the project and to Oct. 31 for final completion.
Havre Mayor Bob Rice called a closed executive session of the City Council on Aug. 5 to discuss possible litigation against Williams Brothers when the company missed the July 31 deadline to complete the new section of the water plant. The city decided to send the company a letter requesting a meeting to determine whether Williams Bros. can meet the final deadline or if changes are needed.
Williams said his company is asking for some time extensions that will not affect the final deadline. Many factors, including some beyond his company's control, have caused delays in the project, he said.
Rice said today that all parties involved, including attorneys and representatives of the city's public works department and the bonding company for the project, will be at the meeting.
Rice said last week that the results of the meeting could range from the city taking no action to starting litigation or taking over work on the project itself.
The upgrade of the plant, costing about $6.7 million plus $1.5 million for testing and engineering, will increase the plant's production capacity by about 50 percent. It will also add computerized equipment for automation of some of the plant's functions and a backup generator.
The extension of the original contract deadline added $200,000 in new engineering fees to the cost of the project.