$4 million drops into city’s lap
SAN BENITO — The city is $4 million richer.
A settlement stemming from a lawsuit against companies involved in the construction of a $17 million water plant will pay the city that amount.
The city released the details of the agreement in response to the Valley Morning Star’s request under the Texas Public Information Act.
As part of the settlement, Evoqua Water Technologies will also train city employees to operate the water plant the city shut down in 2014, arguing it did not properly operate.
“It is what it is,” City Commissioner Esteban Rodriguez said regarding the settlement. “I guess it’s the best we could have gotten. You always want more. Our lawyers said that was the route to be taken and we did.”
Rodriguez said the city will use part of the money to fund a pre-filtration system to help put the water plant back into operation.
“We plan to reinvest it back in our plant,” Rodriguez said. “We’re got to bring it up to par.”
Under the agreement, Evoqua will staff the water plant with a technician or engineer for 12 weeks.
“Evoqua will also work with the city to provide training to the city’s operator at regular intervals over a two-year period as defined and agreed between Evoqua and the city,” the agreement states.
Evoqua will also organize weekly meetings and visit the plant to monitor the plant’s operation for two years.
Under the settlement, Evoqua will help the city “restore production of drinking water at the plant to six million gallons of clean water per day,” according to a city press release.
The company will also “supply the plant with training and enough state-of-the-art upgraded membranes designed to provide the best ultra-filtration available and enable the plant to ultimately produce and deliver 10 (million gallons per day) in the future,” the press release states.
In June, the city announced a settlement in the lawsuit against Siemens Corp., Evoqua and other companies behind the design and construction of the water plant opened in 2009.
The city filed the lawsuit in 2014, arguing the plant did not properly operate.
At the same time, city commissioners decided to shut down the plant.
Meanwhile, commissioners launched a $3 million project to renovate the city’s 90-year-old water plant, aiming to turn it into the main water source.
But in September 2016 and last January, the old plant temporarily shut down, cutting water service across town.
As part of an agreement, Harlingen provided the city with water used to temporarily serve the city’s homes and businesses.