News item: Tampa Bay Water, the regional utility, is seeking proposals to repair the cracks in its $140 million reservoir. The repair job may cost nearly as much as the original reservoir and may lead to an increase in water rates.
TAMPA BAY WATER REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS
1. You really have to fix it this time.
2. No, really. We're not kidding.
3. If you don't fix it, you agree not to get paid.
4. If you don't fix it, our consulting firm, CH2M-Camp-Dresser-PB&J, doesn't get paid.
5. If you don't fix it, the consultants who helped choose the consultants don't get paid either. Also, everybody on the Selection Committee has to resign.
6. If you don't fix it, and try to blame the Peer Review Committee of experts who came up with the supposed method to fix it, or if you try to blame a subcontractor, or really, if you try to blame anybody else in the world, then the two of you will be locked into a room until one of you comes out bloody and carrying a big bag of money, which you will then give to us.
7. Tampa Bay Water, as part of our end of the deal, grudgingly agrees to put somebody in charge with an actual engineering degree this time.
8. If you worked on screwing it up last time, you can't work for us again and be paid a lot of money. Unless we feel like it.
9. Important modeling information about the project needs to be stored someplace besides a single laptop that belongs to a guy who gets it stolen from his car while jogging, like last time, so that if you don't fix it, we can figure out what happened.
10. We agree not to name anything that you build after any more politicians. On the other hand, if you don't fix it, then each crack starting with the largest and working down will be named after one of the companies in your team, for example, "HDR Canyon."
11. During the repair work, the chief engineer's sweet old mother has to live in a little cottage just outside the wall directly behind the biggest crack. Afterward, too.
12. You know how last time, they put another top layer of lining on the walls of the reservoir, sort of on a whim, and they didn't realize that water was going to get underneath it and cause these big cracks, so they didn't put any drains in there? Well, don't do that this time.
12. We really, really mean it this time, okay? Look, we're even checking the "No Cracks" option in this contract:
(Please check one)
√ NO CRACKS
13. If you don't fix it, each member of Tampa Bay Water, which is not an elected board itself but consists of elected officials from local communities, has to walk around his or her town wearing a sign that says, "I Personally Messed Up The Reservoir Again."
14. No, wait, that last paragraph got in by accident. Actually, in the event you don't fix it, each member of Tampa Bay Water's board will pretend that he or she never heard of the thing, slink home and get re-elected anyway.
• • •
Here's an actual quote from an attorney for Tampa Bay Water, which decided to build the reservoir in the first place, and indeed chose the companies that did it:
"If the design is bad and the construction is bad, I'm not sure how that's our fault."