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New, free to ASFE/GBA members; video education; PDH eligible
ASFE/GBA members are now eligible to receive, free of charge, a series of videos — some on disk, some for download — conveying presentations from GBA's most recent national meetings. "Most of these should be acceptable for PDH credit," said GBA President Kurt R. Fraese, L.G. (GeoEngineers, Inc.), "but that depends on the rules of the states involved."
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FROM THE BENCH: Third-party claim not required to activate indemnity
Historically, indemnities applied only to damages resulting from third-party claims against the indemnified party. Now, courts are interpreting indemnities to require indemnification for damages and losses an owner sustains even in the absence of a third-party claim, as illustrated by the decision in Central Brown County Water Authority v. Consoer, Townsend, Envirodyne, 2013 WL 501419 (E.D. Wis. 2013). The Authority sued Consoer, Townsend, Envirodyne alleging that service deficiencies damaged the Authority by causing it to incur the cost of digging up and investigating pipelines which it then had to repair.
Register today to join us in Hawaii for the GBA 2014 Spring Conference
We’re looking forward to a great conference on "Optimizing Performance" April 10-12 on the beautiful Big Island of Hawaii, and registration is now open! Don't delay, either — February 28 is your last day to save via the early-bird registration fee. Also just around the corner, March 5 is the deadline to make your room reservations. Don't miss this great event! Register today!
How to safely dispose of fracking water? Drink it!
Oasys Water Inc. CEO Jim Matheson — a retired U.S. Navy fighter pilot — says his company's "forward-osmosis" process can make the water in shale-gas wells so clean, people can drink it. "It's a difficult water," he said, "and today that represents a big environmental challenge and it represents a huge economic challenge to the producers. We can convert that economic and environmental issue into a freshwater resource." Braggadocio? Hardly.
CalTrans cover-up allegation true, independent investigator says
Contra Costa Times
"I don't believe you, and I don't think the public will have great confidence in what you have said, either." So said California Senate Transportation Committee Chair Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) to Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty and Toll Bridge Program Manager Tony Anziano, who denied that CalTrans fired or reassigned dissenting engineers who worked on the new Bay Bridge because they spoke out or that CalTrans urged employees to refrain from putting issues in writing in order to avoid public disclosure.
Guess what's put the Panama Canal expansion on hold
Associated Press via U.S. News & World Report
ASFE/GBA has for many years stated that subsurface-engineered construction issues are the number-one source of construction claims and litigation. Nothing we know contradicts that assertion. Example: At this writing, the largest construction project wallowing in dispute is expansion of the 50-mile Panama Canal, which carries about 6% of the world's commerce. Designed to double the canal's capacity, the project is now 75% complete, but faces a $1.6 billion cost overrun, the source of the dispute between the Panama Canal Authority and the United for the Canal construction group.
Bring home the best of GBA conferences with content on demand — online and on DVD.
BUSINESS 101: Small-businesses' New Year's resolutions
Constant Contact Inc.
According to Constant Contact, Inc., 53% of small businesses make New Year's resolutions every year, and about one-third of them keep them. Just over half the respondents (53%) said keeping business-related resolutions is easier than keeping personal ones, a sentiment verified by the countless treadmills used principally to display old shirts. According to the Constant Contact report, the top-six resolutions are:
growing annual revenue (26% );
running the business more efficiently (18%);
attracting more customers/clients (16%);
planning better (10%);
trying different marketing tactics, like mobile marketing (10%); and
creating a better customer/client experience (8%).
When asked what helpful resolution they kept in the past, respondents said:
"Ask for more help,"
"Build my team,"
"Be more aggressive with social media,"
"Blog more frequently,”
"Find out what personally motivates my staff,"
"Create a marketing plan," and
"Drop what isn't working and move forward."
Make full use of your firm's benefits
Did you know that every single employee of your firm is considered a member of GBA? Why not encourage them to visit GBA's website and sign up for a password to unlock the full value of your firm's membership in GBA? Send them here to get started.
New battery could bring unsubsidized viability to wind, solar
Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
A team of Harvard scientists and engineers has demonstrated a new type of battery that could fundamentally transform the way electricity is stored on the grid, making power from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar far more economical and reliable. Described in a paper recently published in Nature, the metal-free flow battery relies on the electrochemistry of naturally abundant, inexpensive, small organic (carbon-based) molecules called quinones, which are similar to molecules that store energy in plants and animals.
Call for abstracts: Fall Conference in San Francisco
Have a creative idea for a presentation at the ASFE/The Geoprofessional Business Association (GBA) Fall Conference in San Francisco, October 23-25, 2014? Here is your chance to share it with us. Download and send us the submission form. The submissions will be reviewed by the ASFE/GBA Conference Committee. The theme of the conference is "Confronting Risk: Leading in an Era of Rapid Change."
HUMAN RESOURCES DEPT.: Using LinkedIn to find new employees
2014 has just got to be the year when geoprofessionals agree the Great Recession has finally come to an end. And with that ending come new beginnings and the need to staff up. How are you going to do that? Do you plan to post your opportunity on a job-search website and wait for dozens if not hundreds of unqualified people to submit resumes, or will you bypass that often-frustrating technique and look for the perfect candidates yourself? If you opt for the latter approach, consider using LinkedIn's recruiter tools and advanced search features.
Engineer "softens" mall-inspection report to help facilitate owner's refinancing bid. Roof collapses; two die. Engineer faces criminal charges
Canadian authorities revoked Robert Wood's license to practice in November 2011 after the structural engineer admitted to misconduct. Nonetheless, the government allowed him to keep his firm — M. R. Wright and Associates — intact, with Wood functioning as a "graduate engineer" with restrictions on what he could do. Building inspection was a permitted activity. No longer.
Top five liability-claim precursors and what you can do now to avoid claims
Terra Insurance Company
What are the top five precursors to a client-filed claim? Terra Insurance Company knows, and you should, too, because — according to a new, free, five-minute video featuring Terra Vice President of Claims and Risk Management Lisa Gamblin, Esq. — there's a lot you can do to prevent claims from being filed against you and your firm, provided you know what the precursors are. Ms. Gamblin knows what she's talking about: Terra is the nation's highest-rated professional liability insurance company.
Laugh and learn!
This is probably the most effective training tool ASFE/GBA has ever developed: the electronic ASFE's Risky Business quiz show game, equipped with more than 300 ASFE/GBA-developed questions, some of which are repeated to create 13 quiz categories comprising almost 1,000 questions. Note: You can customize ASFE's Risky Business by adding your own questions, to teach employees about firm history, the company's operation systems (like the financial-management system), paid and unpaid leave and other corporate policies, and even key clients. Your choices are limitless. Training is fun when using the ASFE's Risky Business quiz show format.
Millions of pounds of toxic pollution go unreported annually
Environmental Integrity Project
Almost 400 large oil and gas facilities in six energy-boom states — Colorado, Louisiana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wyoming — are emitting a combined 8.5 million tons of toxic chemicals each year, according to a new report from the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP).
The report also details how an arbitrary loophole exempts the oil-and-gas extraction industry from having to report the toxic emissions to EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI).
In-house Lunch & Learn topics
GBA's Education Committee developed the Lunch & Learn seminar series to help GBA-Member Firms conduct high-quality, to-the-point seminars for staff members and others, such as client and colleague staffers. Each Lunch & Learn outlines key points to be made and includes note-taking forms participants can use to help reinforce key lessons learned, as well as a PowerPoint presentation. Each seminar uses GBA materials that members can obtain free of charge in unlimited quantity.
Using these is so easy: just download the materials, set a date, reserve a conference room, issue the invitation, order in some pizza and sandwiches if you're feeling particularly generous, and you're ready to go!
YOU'VE JUST GOT TO BE KIDDING: Not a fish story
Stomatopods will fight just about anything for any reason: humans, fish, clams, octopuses…you name it. The 550 known species can be split into two groups: "smashers" that knock their prey unconscious and then methodically dismember them, and "spearers" that impale fish with spikey appendages. While the spearers can lash at their prey in 20 milliseconds, smashers can be ten times faster (Earth's fastest predatory strike), launching their clubs at 75 feet per second through water.
Now free to all members! Fall Conference sessions on demand
Even more free training from GBA! Earn PDHs while you enjoy great sessions such as these:
Risk in the Project Context: Have you or your staff ever missed something in the field, broken a promise to a client representative, missed a report deadline, or lacked the gumption to tell a client "No"? If you haven't, it's just a matter of time: You will! Learning from others' mistakes and taking a proactive approach can be extremely profitable.
Covering Your Assets: The ROI of Internal Engagement: People are the most precious asset of just about any professional-services firm. Is your firm doing enough to protect and develop those precious assets? Two industry leaders share tips and tools to create successful internal engagement programs.
The Continuously Improving Safety Program: Federal, state, and local regulations as well as client requirements make a continuously improving safety program more important than ever before. Cynthia "Cindy" Sundquist addresses some of the fundamental programs GBA-Member Firms should implement.
Bridgit: A new CoMET necessity?
Daily Commercial News
Bridgit is a cloud-based communications platform designed to help constructors manage deficiencies in their work. Using a smartphone app, QA/QC personnel — including construction-materials engineering and testing (CoMET) field representatives — take photos of deficiencies and send them directly to the responsible constructor. The technology allows for real-time notifications; constructors are integrated via e-mail.
For a complete list of upcoming events, click here.
Shrink, swell cities
24/7 Wall Street
What do Midland, TX; Odessa, TX; Pascagoula, MS; Sioux Falls, SD; and Fargo, ND have in common with Shreveport, LA; Decatur, IL; Yuma, AZ; Lafayette, LA; and Steubenville, OH? They are the five-fastest growing (Midland, et al.) and the five-fastest shrinking metropolitan U.S. economies, based on gross metropolitan product (GMP) data released by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Thinking about opening a branch? Then the data make for "must" reading. Ditto if you're trying to develop a business forecast for where you are right now.
May EPA regulate industrial-facility emissions? Supreme Court to rule
Is climate change for real? Does it present a danger? Legally speaking, yes, by virtue of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Coalition for Responsible Regulation v. EPA. The Court let stand a D.C. Circuit Court ruling that upheld EPA's endangerment finding for greenhouse gases and its rules for emissions from mobile sources (cars and trucks) and stationary sources (industrial facilities). In February, the Court will hear oral arguments in Texas v. EPA, as to whether or not EPA’s findings, which triggered regulation of motor vehicles, also triggered regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources, like industrial facilities.
Webinar: The case of the contaminated project
A young geoprofessional trying to please the client gets hung up in a miscommunication. Fortunately, a huge loss was averted by a limitation of liability provision, but — arguably — an even bigger loss occurred when the firm lost what was an extremely important client. How did all of this affect the young geoprofessional? He'll tell you himself, with "himself" being none other than ASFE President Kurt R. Fraese, L.G., the CEO of GeoEngineers, the company he worked for at the time his good deed was punished. Learning what went wrong is important, because the same thing could happen to you. And Kurt will also tell you how he won that client back, simply by putting himself in the right place at the right time. This on-demand webinar may qualify for one professional-development hour (PDH).
2013-2014 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Kurt R. Fraese, L.G.
(GeoEngineers, Inc., Seattle, WA)
Steven D. Thorne, P.E., D.GE
(Terracon, Somerset, NJ)
Gordon M. Matheson, Ph.D., P.E., P.G.
(Schnabel Engineering, Inc., Glen Allen, VA)
Joel G. Carson
(Kleinfelder, Omaha, NE)
Stewart G. Osgood, P.E.
(DOWL HKM, Anchorage, AK)
Laura R. Reinbold, P.E.
(TTL, Inc., Nashville, TN)
Woodward L. Vogt, P.E., D.GE
(Paradigm Consultants, Inc., Houston, TX)
7701 Las Colinas Ridge, Ste. 800, Irving, TX 75063