EAST CHICAGO | The city will go forward with plans to open its new water filtration plant despite recent denials of responsibility by designers of the non-working facility.
State-of-the-art purification systems installed by Siemens USA at the $30 million waterworks have not functioned since the plant was completed more than a year ago.
Siemens and the project's original consulting engineers got together to discuss the facility last week, but Siemens officials at the meeting claimed continuing operational problems were not their fault, Water Board attorney Joseph Allegretti said this week.
The new position by Siemens "represents a dramatic departure from their previous stance," Allegretti said.
In September the company offered upward of $100,000 for new equipment to bring the plant up to its specified 17 million gallon per day capacity, though admitting that other upgrades would be needed and the facility would require much more electricity than previously thought.
In exchange, Siemens sought a modification of its original contract with the city to eliminate damages of $2,000 for each day the plant has remained non-functioning, charges that have been accumulating since last November.
East Chicago officials rejected the proposal last month.
The city wants to get the waterworks running by next summer, Allegretti said, and may have to fund the necessary equipment installations itself, then seek to recover the extra investment under terms of the contract with Siemens.
"We have a contract which we can enforce," Allegretti told Water Board members. "We are not defenseless here."
The board in September enlisted the assistance of Indianapolis law firm Baker & Daniels for support in its negotiations with Siemens.
For the near future, residents and businesses will continue to get their water from the city's 1960s-era lakefront water filtration plant, which was scheduled to be torn down in January.
Allegretti said he hoped to have a recommended plan to get the new plant working "with or without Siemens" at the next Water Board meeting in December.