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By phone in late July, Richard Brady's Peter Lloyd tells me that finishing work on the pump station is like moving into a new office. "You've got what you need," he says, "but some rearranging needs to be done before you feel like everything's right." Lloyd adds that transferring the power source to the station's generator is not dependent on an automatic system. It can be done manually. I ask him whether he would consider the station to be up and running. "You'll have to ask the district that," he says.

But even the softstart problems were not over. On July 6, Neal Electric's Passanisi tried to get the subcontractor Square D's and the project manager's attention. "What is the status of the service tech to the jobsite?... Please help out! THIS IS HOT. What does it take to get a service rep to the job? Also, we need to get training done. When could this happen?"

On a "project look-ahead schedule" printed on July 12, the water district instructed Spiess Construction to "continue to perform punch list items." A new schedule on July 25 repeated the same instruction and indicated further the need for Square D to conduct training with the district's operations division. When the training took place during the week of July 24 to 28, one pump was not up at all, another pump's softstart did not work, and none of the pumps had functional transfer switching schemes.

A member of the EastLake community familiar with the 980-2 pump station project tells me that the district may still have to spend more of its own money to get everything completed. He wishes to remain anonymous out of fear that his identity might lead to recriminations against district employees he knows. The potential additional expenditures are likely to involve the automatic transfer scheme, which has elaborate software controlling it. Electrical circuit diagrams reveal, according to my source, that what is required to get the scheme running is not merely a warranty repair. "They're still in the engineering design phase," he says. "Those diagrams show them still struggling to design an automatic transfer scheme that will work."

On July 27, employees received an e-mail from Otay Water District general manager Mark Watton announcing a consolidation of "Development Services and Engineering into one department.... I appreciate [chief of engineering Mehdi Arbabian's] professional orientation and wish him the best in all his future endeavors." In an attached e-mail, Arbabian wrote, "We have reached a mutual agreement so I can now seek other opportunities."

Consolidating Arbabian's responsibilities into his own is chief of development services Rod Posada. He's the one who on February 1 assured Otay district board president Bonilla that the 980-2 pump station project, though a little behind schedule, was going swimmingly.

On August 2, according to spokesman Buelna, the district released retention fees to contractors who worked on the pump station project. But according to my source, "More training is still needed, two pumps and an electronic softstart do not work, and the transfer switch is still in the design phase. These are all contract obligations, not warranty issues."

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