In February of last year, nearly 400,000 Miami Valley residents lost their water service when a major water main broke. Last week, the City of Dayton sued a Shelby County contractor and accused them of being at fault.
Eagle Bridge Company was hired by Montgomery County to demolish and replace the Keowee Street Bridge in downtown Dayton in 2017. The city says Eagle Bridge Company was negligent in their work and undermined the water line-- leading to the eventual break.
Dayton Deputy City Manager Joe Parlette said at a news conference on July 10: “Eagle Bridge’s construction activity on the river, and failure to protect the bank of the river, caused erosion that led to the dislodging and breaking of a 36 inch water main. Eagle Bridge was specifically informed of the location of the water main as it was included in the construction drawings for the contract.”
The city is seeking damages of at least $2 million from the company for emergency costs to shut off the water main and restore service to customers, and for what they are calling the irreparable damage to the reputation of the water department.
The City of Dayton filed a claim with the company's insurance agency, which was denied in June, according to Parlette. Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert said in an interview with Dayton Daily News last year that “there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that the work done by a contractor working on the Keowee Street Bridge had anything to do with the February water main break and the resulting outage." Colbert said it's up to the City of Dayton and Eagle Bridge to resolve the complaint, not the county.
Eagle Bridge has previously denied the city’s allegations. The company did not respond to WYSO's request for comment by the time of publication.
Environmental reporter Chris Welter is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.