Bridgewater Township is alleging that the companies it hired to rerouted Spring Creek and conduct other flood prevention work destroyed existing wetlands and cost the township tens of thousands of dollars.
A lawsuit, filed last week in Rice County court, names Adam Parker of Mariner Professional Services, WSB & Associates and Alliant Engineering as defendants and is in connection with the Central Pond project, at the intersection of County Road 22 and Hwy. 246. The pond was built to manage flood water, rerouting Spring Creek in the process.
The project was partially funded through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Flood Assistance Program, though the township paid approximately $120,000.
Bridgewater retained the services of WSB for principal field work. The company then assigned the project to Parker, who was a company employee from March 2014 until July 2015. The lawsuit states Parker was also employed by Alliant Engineering, a company that provided engineering services to the township.
“Upon information and belief, defendants failed to follow the industry-recognized steps for delineating whether wetlands existed within the proposed area for the Central Pond project,” the township stated in the lawsuit.
Bridgewater is seeking in excess of $50,000 to remedy alleged defects and negligent construction processes WSB undertook, as well as defending itself against engineering fees to negotiate with government entities, to redesign Spring Creek, re-engineer the site, purchase additional acres due to inadvertent destruction of the wetlands and attorney fees.
Bridgewater Township Supervisor Glen Castore said because required permits were not applied for with the Army Corps of Engineering and Rice County Soil and Water Conservation District, the township had to purchase $56,000 for two wetland credits to make up for the wetland destructed in the project. If a wetland is used in a public project, government entities must purchase at least twice as much wetland space. Castore said rerouting Spring Creek has been beneficial for the township and took place after residents of Far-Gaze Meadows, a residential development in southeast Northfield, experienced flooding issues.
According to the lawsuit, if WSB had followed the industry-recognized protocol, the company would have found the area was a wetland.
In a response filing, WSB denied breaching the contract and said it “performed its services in a manner consistent with the required standard of care but denies that the standard of care is as set forth.”
The company stated it was not hired to provide all engineering services for the project nor was responsible for advising the township on wetland delineation requirements, compliance with the Minnesota Wetland Conservation Act or for construction requirements or pre-conditions. WSB also denied failing to follow industry-recognized steps for delineating whether a wetland existed on the site.
The project began in late 2015 when the township purchased 11½ acres of property and ended in spring 2017. As part of the $1.2 million project, mainly funded by the Department of Natural Resources, approximately 90,000 cubic yards of soil was removed. A small pond was also constructed near Bridgewater Heights to contain overflow from the holding pond. Castore estimated that has reduced storm water flow into the city of Northfield by about 30 percent.
Lawyers are expected to meet July 22 to schedule a mediation session.
“It is a justified lawsuit, and we just go through the process here and see what happens,” Castore said.