The city of Gloucester, Massachusetts filed a lawsuit claiming $1.3 million in money damages against United Water. United Water ran the city’s water treatment system for five years. Apparently, United Water did not live up to its contractual obligations at least in the city’s eyes, so the company lost its contract and was sued in court for breach of contract.
Under United Water’s operation, the city suffered through a nearly three-week long boil water order from the state EPA. During that period of time, the city’s water was hazardous to drink because of the presence of coliform bacteria. The presence of these bacteria in drinking water is usually a result of a problem with the treatment system or the pipes which distribute water, and indicates that the water may be contaminated with germs that can cause disease.
Coliforms are bacteria that are always present in the digestive tracts of animals, including humans, and are found in their wastes. They are also found in plant and soil material. As a result of the coliform contamination, the city was slapped with a water boil order for 20 days.
The city’s damage claim includes $814,000 in direct costs as well as an estimate of lost water bill collections. United Water ran the city’s drinking water treatment and sewage plants for five years until November 2009 when Veolia Water won a new five-year contract.