Seems like this is another Catch 22 for infrastructure managers: Geotechnical surveying and utility location go a long way toward minimizing settling, but for whatever reason (budgets? deadlines? inadequate follow-up?) they don’t get done. Which kind of leaves the folks who maintain those assets once they’re out of sight and out of mind holding the bag.

For example, from one commenter: I've dealt with problems that some people only have in their nightmares. Have you ever …

  • Gone underneath an 1907 bridge and found that all but one of the pipe supports is still intact with the pipe sagging badly? 
  • Seen the outline of a pipe on a basement wall and noted that the wall was built where records showed an overflow 48-inch-diameter storm sewer pipe; the homebuilder found the pipe dry, cut it off, and poured his wall against the pipe end?

 Just the other day I inspected a newer house and found an oil furnace with a chimney running into the attic. The builder was an electrical contractor who saw lots of money in home construction and thought he'd get in the business. He saw no problem with what he'd done, saying the city inspector approved the house and never questioned the lack of a chimney.

Feel free to share your horror stories here at the bottom of the page. (If you’re asked to respond via LinkedIn and don’t have a profile, read this from an actual public works director.)

Thanks, too, to the 250 or so folks who took the time to fill out our questionnaire on consulting firms. If you haven’t already, we’d greatly appreciate your doing so.

This year we’re trying to get a sense of how many of you use qualifications-based selection and have a project management office (we’re writing about how Austin, Texas, set up a PMO in July).

Finally, we’re heading to Denver on Sunday for the American Water Works Association’s annual convention.

We’ll be your eyes and ears at the pipe-tapping  and meter-assembling contests, People’s Choice taste test, and “Mile High Tap to Tap” (where we hope to pick up a “No Water, No Beer” T-shirt).

We’re getting to the event a day early so we can talk to “Preparing for your future in the water industry workshop” for students and recent graduates. Workforce development is a priority for many of you; what would you like us to ask them?

North American Specialty Products (formerly CertainTeed Pipe & Foundations Group) is introducing an “industry-first” product: StraightShot spline-locked PVC pipe with a flush joint. What would you like to know about it?

As always, feel free to email me at