Pipeline claim runs to court

RATEPAYERS could have to pick up a multi-million dollar tab in a legal dispute over the Rockhampton-to-Yeppoon water pipeline.

A contractor on the project is seeking $6.2 million plus interest in a Supreme Court claim related to alleged breaches of contract.

Rockhampton Regional Council yesterday refused to make any statement on the legal claim but a short reference to it in supporting documents to today's meeting of the full council says the claim is being vigorously defended.

But Cr Bill Ludwig, who was mayor of Livingstone Shire when the original design for the pipeline and contracts were drawn, said the ratepayers at the Capricorn Coast would be justifiably angry if the costs of the claim were passed on to them in the form of higher water charges.

The Morning Bulletin understands that the legal dispute stems from changes made by Fitzroy River Water to the original pipeline plans when it took over the project after amalgamation. Those changes resulted in the cancellation of a blending reservoir that would have made it possible to mix water from Water Park Creek with that from FRW's Glenmore water treatment plant.

"I questioned at the time a range of issues related to FRW taking over the contract and variations they were making to the design and overall intent of the operation," said Cr Ludwig.

"I was very vocal about it at the time and I remain very disappointed with FRW's management decision.

"Unfortunately because the matter is still before the court, I can't comment further except to say that it would be highly inappropriate if water customers at the coast were further financially penalised if the court rules in favour of the contractor."

He said when FRW inherited the project it was on time, on budget and following all the original design specifications.

The council has been involved in a number of costly court cases which have attracted public anger.

It is expected to announce on November 22 the cost of prosecuting grazier Allen Rea for repairing a section of Stanage Bay Road without permission.