NF Water Board to approve emergency repair contract with Alden company fined for defrauding DOT
The Niagara Falls Water Board will be holding a special meeting Thursday morning to approve a contractor to repair a major water main break that has disrupted the city's water supply since Friday.
At a 9:30 a.m. meeting, the Board announced it plans to award an emergency contract of nearly $300,000 to Concrete Applied Technologies Corporation of Alden - the lowest bidder - to address the 36-inch water transmission line break near 47th Street and Niagara Falls Boulevard.
The Board announced earlier this week that the repair needed is "massive." CATCO will replace the former concrete water lines with cast iron and replace parts "that were over 50 years old and from the original installation."
The Better Business Bureau does not have a profile on CATCO. Led by President Michael Salvadore, CATCO has nearly 25 years experience in highway and street construction, employs 20 people at its one location and has annual revenue of nearly $8 million.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, CATCO agreed in August 2016 to pay more than $1.7 million to "resolve Disadvantaged Business Enterprise fraud allegations that they collaborated with a DBE to submit false filings to the government in violation of the False Claims Act."
The IG said "beginning in approximately 2009, CATCO routinely used American Indian Builders, a now-defunct DBE, as a pass-through materials supplier on at least 10 Federal Highway Administration-funded construction projects in New York State. Salvadore and CATCO admit that in each instance, CATCO submitted DBE utilization forms to State agencies identifying AIB as the materials supplier, even though AIB did not perform a commercially useful function on the projects.
"Separately, on August 19, 2016, CATCO entered into an Administrative Settlement and Compliance Agreement with FHWA for a period of three years in order to settle suspension and proposed debarment proceedings. CATCO, among other things, agreed to appoint a corporate compliance officer and hire an independent monitor to ensure compliance with the terms of the agreement with FHWA," the IG said.
No specific timeline has been set for a start date or length of Niagara Falls repair. In a statement, the Board said timing is being driven by the availability of necessary parts.
It also noted that "Niagara Falls High School has been pressurized" and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center continues to receive lower-than-normal water pressure. The hospital has installed pumps to address some of its issues, like toilets that could not be flushed.
The Board said other customers with multi-floor structures who are experiencing pressure problems "are encouraged to contact a licensed plumber to evaluate whether a booster pump should be installed."