Gannett Fleming settles in Big Dig fatality

The engineering firm at the center of a long-running water controversy has settled its biggest legal headache. The Massachusetts Attorney General's Office has announced that Gannett Fleming will pay $1.725 million to settle claims in the fatal collapse of a company-designed ceiling system. (The firm sparked local outrage after dramatizing costs of dredging the Rivanna Reservoir and then winning a contract to design a new one.)

This story is a part of the Water plan all wet? special.


elections aren't that far off. if everyone just did their part incompetence, could easily be a thing of the past

As long as we let them.

"dramatizing costs of dredging the Rivanna Reservoir and then winning a contract to design a new one." You've got that right. And the RWSA Board (Tucker,O'Connell,Fern, Mueller,and Gaffney) never blinked.

How much longer will this town tolerate their mismanagement and the millions it is costing citizens?

Let's just get one thing straight, if any self-described environmentalists support Rodney Thomas over David Slutzky over the water supply issue then they automatically cede the right for all eternity to call themselves environmentalists. Rodney Thomas is about as pro-development, pro-sprawl, anti-rural protection, anti-green a candidate as Albemarles GOP could dredge up [pardon the pun] and to think that anyone even remotely concerned with the environment would support him just goes to show the limitations and blindedness of single-issue voting.

You may be right, but the judgment of any candidate who supports a huge, possibly over $200 million dollar expenditure without first knowing the costs must be questioned. As well as anyone who is unwilling to re-examine an issue in light of new information. I agree with the letter published by Mr. Crutchfield in the Daily Progress:

I agree with Irony. Mr. Slutzky has been a solid leader in suppporting the current water supply plan. From an environmental perspective, it's the best plan anyway.

Betty I see I need to be more direct. You claim to support sustainable water but when you support Rodney Thomas you are supporting more sprawl growth, more consumption of water, less conservation of water, more demand for reservoirs. In other words you're totally shooting yourself in the foot. Please take a long-term view and don't be blinded by short-term thinking.

Perhaps I need to explain more clearly. I did not say who I was supporting. I do support responsible decision making which is not apparent right now on the Board of Supervisors.

Why would anybody be bothered wih the hassle of attempting to conserve water now? Especially after voluntary conservation slapped us in the face with "reduced water sales" and "increased prices"?

Here's the problem with voluntary conservation. Let say you curb your water usage by 15%. Then there is another drought causing a shortage and a mandatory cutback of water usage by 10%. And of course there will be penalties attached to not conserving. Do you think they care that you already cutback by 15%. Nope! You will have to prove that your 15% reduction is really a cutback and not just normal usage. And the more time that you have been conserving, the more likely it will be seen as normal usage.

Betty, Thanks for all the work you have done and continue to do to bring some sense to this water discussion.

We do need a community wide debate on whether the amount of water that Gannett Fleming predicted we would need for our 50 year water plan is correct.

Many, including our mayor Dave Norris, believe the amount we will be conserving in the future is woefully underestimated in the current plan. As you can see from recent reports when we conserve our water rates go up. It is very important that we don't overbuild and burden our citizens with debt because they aren't using the amount of water that our water authority needs to sell to meet their expenses. Presently they have $45 million in debt and are looking at as much as $200 million with the current water plan . Can we afford that if our water usage continues to drop even as more households are hooked up to the system and the population increases ?

Please read the link to this paper, in the article below, by Greg Harper, water resource manager for Albemarle county for another perspective --"Are we overestimating our future water needs"
--an updated inquiry into data and assumptions

This is the direct link to Harper's memo. If you care about our future water supply please read this excellent document.


Out of curiosity, can you tell me exactly how much water per day we do need, both today and in 30 years? And, can you tell me how many gallons per day we would have available with dredging?

I'd like to know the numbers you are using and how you have come to this conclusion.

Thanks in advance.

Betty, responsible decision making means providing enough water to a community and dredging alone clearly doesn't do this. I saw the theatrics at the city council meeting and am more worried than ever that our city leaders will try to reverse direction on the existing water plan.....leaving a lot of people without enough water in the near future. Responsible?

Picture doesn't match previous picture. Isn't this one in North Downtown?

You are correct. Thanks for bringing it to our attention- I apologize for my error. We will fix it as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, photos of 118 Monte Vista Avenue are available here:

In the print edition on page 56, it says "sale withdrawn." Oops.