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City to settle water plant lawsuit

Posted: July 16, 2015 4:48 p.m.
Updated: July 17, 2015 1:00 a.m.

The city of Camden will settle a lawsuit related to construction issues at its drinking water treatment plant.

Camden City Council approved moving forward with the proposed $85,000 settlement after returning from executive session during a work session prior to its regular meeting Tuesday night. Later, during its regular session, council passed a resolution approving the execution and delivery of the settlement agreement.

The city filed the $224,000 suit over issues with concrete work in one of the plant’s four filter systems, according to City Manager Mel Pearson.

The city retained ERC (Engineering Resource Consultants) to design and build its present water treatment plant in 1997; the plant came online in 1999. Ten years later, while doing scheduled periodic maintenance, city officials discovered significant issues with the concrete in a storage vat in filter number one, Pearson said.

“We believe that ERC’s oversight on the concrete work was not sufficient, the result being significant failure of the concrete,” Pearson said.

The repairs, which cost the city $224,000 to complete, were made and the city filed suit in 2009, Pearson said. Since that time, the parties have attempted mediation twice, he said.

“The first time, no one could come to a satisfactory agreement,” he said. “This recommendation to settle came out of the second mediation attempt.”

Pearson said both sides have built compelling arguments. The next step, he said, would have been to try the case in court, which would have cost the city much more in both time and money. ERC is no longer in existence; the company dissolved when the principal owner became terminally ill, Pearson said.

He said the plant is in good shape and performs its functions at the highest standards.

“We win awards from DHEC (the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control) every year for water quality,” he said. “It’s a good plant and since we are only at about half capacity, it has a lot of potential for the future.”

Other business discussed during work session:

• Council conducted its annual review of the city’s boards and commissions.

• Council heard a tourism update from Tourism Director Suzi Sale

• Council heard a presentation and discussion on a proposed Bailey Bill, which provides tax incentives for investments in historic properties, both residential and commercial. City staff will have a final draft ordinance ready for council to vote on in August.

• Council heard an update on drought conditions from Public Works Director Tom Couch.

• Couch also officially introduced the city’s new Deputy Director of Public Works, Ray Peterson, to council. Peterson, who comes to Camden from the Richland County, replaces Sam Davis, who retired June 26.

Council went into regular session at 6:30 p.m. During its regular meeting, council:

• Passed second and final reading of an ordinance rezoning property located at 1300 Gardner St., 1309 Lakeshore Drive, and 1319 Lakeshore Drive from R-15 residential to OI office/institutional.

• Passed second and final reading of a public utility system revenue bond issuance up to $7 million. The revenues from this bond issue will fund electrical upgrades in the area from Kendall Mill Village to Lyttleton Street.

• Passed first reading of an ordinance gifting a property on 18th Street in Camden to Habitat for Humanity of Kershaw County.

• Council approved eight façade grants for properties located on Broad, DeKalb and Market streets.

• Council heard a special presentation from Paddy Bell, past regent of the Hobkirk Hill Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Bell, while regent of the Hobkirk Hill Chapter, nominated several people instrumental in developing interpretive signage at several important historic sites around Camden for a National DAR Historic Preservation Award.  The nomination was approved and the group was presented the national award during the meeting. Willard Polk, who chaired the group, accepted the award on behalf of the members. In addition to Polk, the honorees included Charles Baxley, historian; Joanna Craig,  director, Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site; Rob McCaskill, graphic design; Johnny Miller, Kershaw County Historical Society; Peggy Ogburn, Kershaw County Historical Society;  Jim Piecuch, primary historian; and author David Reuwer, historian.

• The Hobkirk Hill chapter also presented Mayor Tony Scully with a certificate of appreciation for his efforts in facilitating historic preservation in Camden.

• Council canceled its July 28 meeting and will meet again Aug. 11.

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