Project: Baton Rouge Wastewater Pump Station SCADA System (September 12, 2006)

By Control Engineering Staff September 12, 2006

It would have been hard to make contingency plans for the number of unexpected turns this project has taken. Add three more to the list.

Our replacement project engineer, on the job for about 3 months now and just up to speed, was diagnosed recently with two 99% and one 50% heart artery blockages. The doctors diagnosed and corrected one 99% blockage with our engineer being off the project for only a week. He is out this week for a stent to correct the second blockage–a procedure that we trust will go as smoothly as the first. The 50% blockage is being corrected with medication.

Changes in the Department of Public Works are our current major hurdle. A new DPW director and staff engineer, both familiar with building HVAC automation systems but not municipal wastewater SCADA and control systems, have decided to test their favored building automation system at a pump station site. This is being considered as an alternative to the pump controller recently selected in Phase I that the City has executed a contract on.

During a recent several-hour meeting with ourselves and the City’s staff engineer, the prime consultant tactfully attempted to explain why this is risky and not in the City’s best interest. While it has been explained that such an alternative could not come close to meeting the original specifications, the DPW director and his staff engineer have called into question whether all the functionality of the original specifications is necessary. Of course, we are considerably along in our contract, having earned in the neighborhood of 50% of the contract value so far. If the City should change direction at this point, they will be out a considerable amount of money!

And the third wrinkle: The Phase II contractor (supplier and installer of the control panels) who had been awarded a low-bid contract almost 2 years ago but was never given a notice to proceed, has been denied a change order to cover their cost changes since that time (which are considerable, particularly due to last year’s hurricanes Katrina and Rita). City purchasing says this portion of the contract must be rebid. Estimated time for the process: 9 months.

The prime consultant has recommended instead that the scope be changed to replacement of the interiors of existing panels, and that a change order be initiated to our contract for this work–a solution that would most quickly get this project to completion.

Not even a former Eagle scout could have anticipated all this…..