EAST CHICAGO | Officials hope an agreement soon can be reached to get the city's new, but still nonworking, water filtration plant finally functional.
The $30 million facility was scheduled to begin operations last November, but issues with the high-tech membranes used to purify Lake Michigan water have so far stymied engineers with Siemens USA, which designed the filtration system.
The city's contract with Siemens calls for damages of $2,000 for each day the plant fails to perform as specified past the planned opening date nearly a year ago.
Water Board members earlier this month rejected a proposal from Siemens for installing extra equipment to bring the waterworks to its 17 million gallons per day rating — if the city would forgive the accumulated damages.
The proposal also would have required more money from the city for the hardware and a jump in electrical usage at the facility.
"Our priority is to get the plant running," Water Board attorney Joseph Allegretti said last week. "We'll figure out responsibilities and obligations after that."
In September, the board enlisted the assistance of Indianapolis law firm Baker & Daniels for support in the negotiations with Siemens.
"There's been a little saber rattling, but no lawsuit yet," Allegretti said. "We have not exhausted all of our options."
Allegretti said he hoped to have a draft outline of mutual understanding with Siemens at the next Water Board meeting scheduled for Nov. 1.