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— The City Lake project is nearly completed after more than six months of waiting for the pumps to work. The pumps worked last week, City Administrator David Cameron said. The contractor, Sweetser Construction Co., was to have them going by the end of March, but the pumps were built incorrectly and some parts took time to order and install. "The lake looks great. The work is quality," Cameron said. "However, the pumps were four months late. The pumps were to be operational March 29." The company faces more than $75,000 in liquidated damages because of the delays. "The lake is substantially complete according to our contract requirements," Cameron said. All that remains on the project is the "punch list," said Vic Siroonian, project manager for Sweetser Construction. That will be the final walk through for the project to make sure everything is completed. "We think it was an excellent project," Siroonian said. "We just hate that it wasn't on schedule." The pumps were initially ready in mid-June, but they were built to be operated with human supervision. Plans required them to be operated without direct supervision. Sensors had to be special-ordered from GE, and this caused delays. "It was really out of our hands," Siroonian said. "Dealing with GE is like dealing with Europe." The pumps were operational Friday after a Rogers company retrofitted them with the necessary parts, Siroonian said. The project is still expected to cost less than $3.5 million, Cameron said. Southwestern Electric Power Co. agreed to pay up to this amount for the project. The company will pump up to 10 million gallons of water per day from the lake to cool Lake SWEPCO. That lake is used to cool Flint Creek Power Plant in Gentry. The city was losing an estimated $10,000 per month in water sales because the new pumps were not active on time, Cameron said. The City Lake project started last winter after the city board approved it in November. The spillway and dam were reconstructed for the project. A new pump station and pipeline to Lake SWEPCO was installed also. Sweetser was the contractor for all projects except for the installation of the pipeline. It was completed by Summit Construction of Gentry. The work allowed the lake level to be raised by one foot. The lake level was lowered 5 feet, 8 inches to complete the project. The city had the lake dredged while it was lowered. It was lowered to a level that the fish were able to survive, Cameron said. The city plans to restock the lake with crappie and bass once the project is completely finished, he said. The number of fish that will be stocked in the lake will be determined after the city consults with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Ron Moore, fisheries biologist with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, said fish are spawning in the lake, and it likely won't be restocked by the commission this year. A more thorough examination of the lake will take place in April, Moore said.

That's when he plans to electrofish the lake to better determine the fish population.

"We've never electrofished the lake," Moore said.

News, Pages 12 on 09/23/2009

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