The governing board of the South Florida Water Management District on Sept. 17 is scheduled to vote on a $12-million claim settlement for canceling the construction of the 25-sq-mile Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir A-1. The district canceled the project late last year, anticipating the state’s planned purchase of U.S. Sugar Corp.’s property in the Everglades Agricultural Area south of Lake Okeechobee would result in substantial revisions of the plans for Everglades restoration.
The district suspended construction on the reservoir in May 2008, citing uncertainty over its ability to continue constructing it because of a lawsuit by environmental groups against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for improper permitting. Contractor Barnard Parsons Joint Venture by then had completed $234 million of construction and was negotiating a $300-million contract to build the dam to store 190,000 acre-ft of water.
“We terminated the contract on Dec. 1,” says John Dunnuck, the water district’s director of business services for Everglades restoration. The district had agreed to pay $1.9 million per month of suspension, but Barnard Parsons claimed $26.5 million plus additional costs, including a rock-crushing plant and more than 125 pieces of construction equipment. The claim was settled in mediation. “Retainage is the majority of the $12-million claim payment,” says Dunnuck.