The Norrish Creek Water Treatment Plan services Abbotsford and Mission. File photo

Designer of Norrish Creek water plant sued by City of Abbotsford

City says firm failed to include ‘failsafe measures’

The City of Abbotsford is suing the designer of the Norrish Creek Water Plant after a 2015 valve failure caused almost $2 million in damage at the facility.

The city filed a lawsuit on March 27, exactly two years to the day that a valve failed, allowing water to pour into the plant and completely submerge its entire first floor. Two months later, the city said the failure did more than $1.7 million in damage, although insurance covered those costs. The plant is a key part of the water system that serves Abbotsford and Mission.

The plant was able to continue operating after the flooding, although at the time engineers warned it may have to be shut down during intense rain storms. Cannell Lake and local wells were still expected to be able to provide enough water.

In the suit, the city says the plant’s designers, Dayton & Knight, failed to “incorporate reasonable redundancies and fail-safe measures” that would have lessened the risk of such an event.

Having not included such fail-safe measures, the city says the company should have advised the city that “the plant contained an inherent risk of danger from an uncontrolled water event, which in the absence of an adequate warning of the risk, would cause substantial flood damage.”

The city says the flooding of the plant “caused extensive damage to the plant, necessitating extensive clean-up and repair work, including significant electrical and mechanical repair work.” The suit says that redundancies sought would have either prevented the flooding of the plant, or lessened the damage caused.

It’s seeking general and special damages and costs from Opus International Consultants and Opus DaytonKnight Consultants, two companies created as a result of mergers involving Dayton & Knight.

None of the allegations has been proven in court, and Opus has not yet filed its own statement in BC Supreme Court. Opus did not reply to a request for comment.

Dayton & Knight was paid nearly $800,000 to design the plant, according to a 2010 report.

Following the 2015 event, a second emergency valve was added at a cost of $90,000 to protect against a future flood.