Jun. 11, 2014

Charles L. "Charlie" Head, P.E., P.G. appointed to the GBA Board
The GBA Board of Directors has appointed Charles L. "Charlie" Head, P.E., P.G. to fill the Board vacancy created by the resignation of Stewart G. Osgood, P.E. (DOWL HKM), as reported in the April 30, 2014 NewsLog. Charlie is the president and CEO of Sanborn, Head & Associates, Inc., a multidisciplinary, New Hampshire-based firm serving industry, development, solid-waste, and energy clients nationally and internationally. Licensed as both a professional engineer and a professional geologist, Charlie has 30 years of professional experience with a focus on groundwater engineering. He has been active in GBA for more than a decade, most recently as chair of GBA's Emerging Issues and Trends Committee. He holds Bachelor of Science degrees in geology (St. Lawrence University) and civil engineering (University of New Hampshire) and a Master of Science degree in civil engineering from Colorado State University.More

FROM THE BENCH: Maryland court sides with developer, not homeowner
One of the many reasons why residential projects tend to be high risk is the court's propensity to side with homeowners. Now, a federal court in Maryland has dismissed several counts against a homebuilder because the homebuilder's standard contract — accepted by the home purchaser without change — included a provision that shortened the time that otherwise would have been available for the homeowner to sue the developer. The provision stated that any cause of action not covered by the home’s statutorily required "limited warranty" would be valid only if the homeowner filed suit within one year of buying the property. Ultimately, the homeowner filed breach-of-contract, negligence, and fraud claims against the developer, but did so more than a year after he closed on the property. The court cited Maryland's policy of allowing parties to bargain for the scope of liability. It said it found the developer's limitation reasonable and so dismissed the claims. Savage v. Centex/Taylor, LLC, Civil Action No. RDB-11-2134 (D. Md. Mar. 19, 2012)More

Could nuclear-power industry thrive without uranium?
India Today
The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai has announced its design of a prototypical, mainly thorium-based advanced heavy-water reactor (AHWR) for the generation of electricity. This could be a boon to the nuclear-power industry, because thorium is more plentiful than uranium, less expensive, produces far less waste, and is far more difficult to weaponize. According to Atomic Energy Commission Chair Dr. R. K. Sinha, construction of the AHWR will take about eight years. He expects it to start generating electricity in 2025. "Utilization of thorium… will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, mostly imported, and will be a major contribution to global efforts to combat climate change."More

Do you have questions GBA staff may be able to answer? You won't know until you ask, as this member did.

Q: I would appreciate any thoughts you may have on how we should compensate an employee for becoming a PE. My personal view is that there is a real difference in personal liability exposure the day someone becomes a P.E. That doesn't seem to be well understood or appreciated by many, and the added risk is not fully covered by the insurance industry. PEs are held to a much higher standard than non-PEs, and the liability exposes PEs' personal assets and those of their family, outlives the PEs, and there is no guarantee that PEs’ current or past employer will or will be able to shield them from problems that may arise during their career and beyond. In any case, I have long believed that PEs' increased risk should be offset by training, counseling, and an adjustment in salary. I have also wished that the insurance industry would create policies for individual engineers that kick in when their current or former employers’ policies fail to cover them. These policies would travel with the engineers throughout their career as long as they paid the premiums. If these policies existed now, a reasonable salary adjustment for a new PE would be the cost of such insurance. I would appreciate hearing your thoughts. More

New online from GBA: Index of Limitation-of-Liability Decisions, Index of Economic-Loss-Doctrine Decisions
ASFE/GBA has published new editions of two important legal references, both prepared for design professionals without use of "legalese"; both available free of charge. ASFE/GBA's Legal Affairs Committee updated the Limitation-of-Liability Case Index and Economic-Loss-Doctrine Case Index, with Committee Vice Chair Terence J. "Terry" Scanlan, Esq., a principal of the Seattle (WA) law firm Skellenger Bender, P.S., doing the heavy lifting. Both documents are on-line at

Engagement confirmed
We're delighted to announce the engagement of Robert "Rob" Scrafford, P.E. and Joanna Catano, P.E., both employees of Gannet Fleming. Rob is an environmental project manager based in Baltimore. Joanna is a senior geotechnical engineer based in Tampa. They met at the Fundamentals of Professional Practice Class 22, course-concluding seminar in Centennial, CO…and the rest, as has been said by "they," is history. According to Gannet Fleming Senior Vice President Arthur G. "Art" Hoffmann, P.E., D.GE (in a letter to FOPP Director John Bachner), "I'd heard about the slings and arrows that FOPP participants suffer from you, but I didn't realize that some of those arrows were so special. I'm going to have to start referring to you as Cupid."More

Give all your employees access to GBA's resources
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 to to get started.More

H.R. DEPT.: Employee survey yields some big surprises
Happy employees are loyal employees. NOT, according to findings of's annual "January Job Hunters" survey, this year comprising responses of 1,200 employees. Last year, 69% of the respondents said they were unhappy in their current job. This year, that number plummeted to 46%, meaning many more are happy. Nonetheless, the number of employees who reported they would be looking for new employment this year went up 6% to 83%; more than eight of every ten! That underscores the popular notion that younger workers skip from job to job, right? WRONG! An eye-popping 85% of employees aged 51-60 said they were planning a job search, compared to 67% of those aged 18-25. What can you do to retain your employees? A pay raise would be helpful, given that 29% said a pay bump would get them to stay. What else could you do? According to the survey report, offer employees advancement and appreciation; the number-two and number-three reasons for making respondents stay put. More

Free Practice Alerts for members
Did you know GBA has more than 50 Practice Alerts available ONLY to members? And they're all free! Topics cover financial performance, electronic-communication policies, establishing mentoring programs, and much, much more! We even have a Practice Alert keyword index to make it easier to find the topics you need. Be sure to take advantage of this terrific members-only benefit today!More

Desalination-technologies market to grow to $50 billion by 2020
Global Industry Analysts Inc. via Water and Wastes Digest
The global market for desalination technologies will reach $50 billion by 2020, according to Desalination Technologies: A Global Strategic Business Report. Researchers say that market growth is occurring because of rapidly growing demand for freshwater and reduced supply thanks to climate change and water contamination. Demand is being fueled by rapid expansion of the manufacturing and energy industries and an increase in arable acreage to feed growing populations. Spurring demand still more, the economic prosperity of the last half-century has created increased incomes and rising standards of living, causing per-capita consumption of water to grow at an unsustainable rate. Growing demand for bottled water is also a concern, because it leads to privatization of freshwater resources, amplifying the threat of a water crisis. More than half of the world's 7.1 billion population lives in water-stressed areas. Has your firm tested the waters of water? Maybe it should!More

DR. ENGLISH: Read this successfully
Software professionals are seldom lauded for their English-language skills, but their words have a major effect on us. We see them so often we begin to believe their way of saying something is the correct way, even when it's not. For example, Dr. E just requested that his e-mail address be removed from a certain company's database. It was, an outcome of which Dr. E was notified with the message, "Your address has been successfully removed." Successfully? More

Lunch & Learn: Ethics
What are ethics? Why are ethics important? How do I incorporate ethics into my daily life and work? Use this Lunch & Learn as a platform to answer these questions and, in the process, teach staff what you need to know.More

New process will lower fracking's carbon footprint and cost
Vancouver Sun
A University of British Columbia research team is pioneering a water-treatment technology that could significantly reduce fracking's environmental impact. The technology relies on advanced dialysis cells that use carbon dioxide to desalinate wastewater and while producing hydrochloric acid and carbonate salts as byproducts. Because hydrochloric acid and carbonate salts are both used in the fracking process, deriving them from wastewater means they do not have to be purchased, thus saving money, nor do they have to be shipped to the fracking site, saving more money while eliminating the greenhouse gases that would otherwise be associated with the transportation system. Bonus: The carbon dioxide used in the process comes from on-site gas flaring and generator operation.More

EDITORIAL: Hoover was 100% wrong
Viewpoints expressed in GBA NewsLog editorials are those of the publication's editor-in-chief, not necessarily those of GBA. GBA encourages editorial response.

In his famous 1954 article in Engineer's Week, Herbert Hoover said it was okay for others to take credit for what engineers have done, because "the verdict of his fellow professionals is all the accolade he wants." NewsLog's editor doesn’t agree with that outlook, saying, "Really? Come up with something amazing, let everyone else take credit for it, and be blissfully satisfied with your own public anonymity and its contribution to the overall anonymity of engineers, environmental professionals, CoMET consultants, and other technical professionals who, together, comprise the custodians of planet Earth….In fact, what Hoover wrote is justification for exactly the kind of behavior that has turned the 500-pound engineering-professions gorilla into a 97-pound weakling. More