A sewer connection project in Marana is the subject of a $1.39 million lawsuit.
Earlier this month, an insurance company filed a lawsuit against Pima County in U.S. District Court, calling for $1.39 million in retribution resulting from a soil report stemming from the Honea Heights sewer conversion project.
Originally, the conversion from septic tanks to a sewer system for the 276 homes in the Honea Heights neighborhood was set to cost $990,000, paid for through a U.S. Department of Agriculture rural development grant. About 13,000 feet of sewer lines were to be installed.
Work on the project has stopped three times since 2005. In May 2005, the county and Grimm Inc., the original contractor, entered agreements that raised the contract to $1.36 million. Grimm went bankrupt in 2006. United Fire and Casualty Co., the insurance company that bonded the project, took over operations after Grimm defaulted.
Attorneys representing United Fire declined to comment.
United Fire filed a notice of claim with the county in January, asking for damages. Despite the suit naming Pima County as the defendant, it ultimately falls on the shoulders of Marana to deal with the lawsuit, as the project was transferred to the town earlier this year. At the start of the project, Pima County was in charge of construction, as it owned the sewer lines. The project was eventually transferred to the town for completion. In order for Marana to assume the project, the county required it to assume any liability associated with the project, said Marana spokesman Rodney Campbell.
United Fire maintains that a soil report conducted by the county erroneously indicated native soil was suitable to use for backfill. The insurance company is asking for nearly $1.4 million to cover the additional costs of bringing new dirt in.
“The differing site conditions caused Grimm to incur unexpected expenses related to the import and use of expensive non-native backfill material together with the removal and export of the unsuitable native soil,” argued United Fire’s attorneys in the lawsuit.
Marana has kicked in roughly a half million dollars for the project, raising the total funding to $1.47 million, according to Pima County records.
Currently, the sanitary sewer main installation is complete and awaiting approval from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, at which point the 276 houses will be connected to the sewer system. Once all homes are connected, which is set to take three years, sidewalks will be put in.
Street repaving is at 70 percent and water main improvements are fully complete, according to town officials.