By Karen Brainard
The settlement amount in a dispute with the company that built a Mt. Woodson-area water tank, which has required ongoing maintenance, was considered too low by some Ramona Municipal Water District directors.
Since the Boulder Tank was installed in 2007 by Orion Construction Corporation, it has continued to leak, according to the district. The tank was bolted instead of welded like other tanks in the district because the materials were easier to transport to the difficult topographical location, RMWD Water Operations Superintendent Johnny Brean told directors at their Sept. 11 meeting.
In November 2011, the board entered into an agreement with Orion and Safeco Insurance Company of America that allowed the district additional time to assess claims from the dispute. That agreement was to expire on Sept. 13.
According to district staff, Orion has worked to fix the leaks but has been unable to eliminate them.
Mike Metts, RMWD’s contracted engineer, said the tank is “about as leak-proof as we’re going to get.” Metts said Orion has reimbursed the district nearly $20,000 to cover labor and equipment expenses.
Brean said they are not finding leaks at the tank’s current level, but if it is filled to capacity they will find leaks.
Metts added that when the tank leaks, the water is not running out but dripping down the sides so water loss is very minimal.
Director Everett “Red” Hager disagreed with the settlement amount.
“I’ll tell you off the bat, $15,000 to me sounds ridiculous,” he said.
The board unanimously authorized RMWD General Manager David Barnum to execute an amendment to extend the agreement for 60 days to allow more time to reach a settlement.
Also at the meeting, RMWD’s board approved an amendment to an agreement with The Nature Conservancy that gives a one-year extension to TNC’s option to purchase a conservation easement on the district’s sprayfield property at the Santa Maria Wastewater Reclamation Plant.