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It is unlikely work on the first reach of the Leith Lindsay flood protection scheme will begin this year as planned, with continual delays adding to the cost of the Otago Regional Council project.
After defeating a challenge to the scheme in the Environment Court earlier this year, the regional council had hoped to put out tenders in September for the work on the Union St to Forth St reach of the Water of Leith, with contractors mobilising before Christmas.
However, delays in getting detailed design and contract documentation from the council's consultant, Opus International Consultants Ltd, mean not only has the work been held up but that the council is also facing increasing costs.
Council engineering and hazards director Gavin Palmer, speaking at a committee meeting this week, said there had been "significant slippage" on the job, with the documentation on the first reach still not finalised.
The original date for the work to be completed was July 4.
"We are several months behind the programme and it is clear we will not be able to advertise the construction contract this side of Christmas."
Staff had "serious concerns" about the performance of Opus relating to timing and the quality of work translating the brief into detailed design.
"We've had several meetings expressing our concerns. It is a very important part of the work and we are working to actively resolve it."
Opus had advised the council that it would not be able to provide accurate revised scheme estimates until November.
It was not until the council had the detailed design briefs and cost estimates that it would be able to go to tender, especially as the original costings for the scheme - $21.4 million - were done in 2004, he said.
"Clearly, things have changed in the market [since] so the new estimates will differ."
In the meantime, staff had to "rejig a whole lot of things", including council approvals, to try to salvage the situation, but that was requiring staff time.
Staff were actively having to manage work by Opus, which was taking staff away from other work.
"Opus is on a short leash. Their costs will be closely scrutinised."
Leith Lindsay Project Group chairman Cr Bryan Scott said it was disappointing to be in this situation.
Opus manager Chris Fox said, when contacted, the company was working with its client on the project as best it could.