David W. Spitzer
David W. Spitzer

In the first two parts of this series, I described a sewage system with an upper district (my client) and a lower district (Oct. 2012, page 10; Nov. 2012, page 14). The flowmeter accuracy was questioned because the flow from the upper district was relatively high (per capita) as compared to the lower district. Several flowmeter issues were identified that resulted in expensive economic consequences. Nonetheless, the court ruled in favor of the lower district and did not order the flowmeters to be fixed.  

RELATED: "Part I: The Expert Witness"

RELATED: "Part II: The Expert Witness"

A number of events occurred over the next few years, and I was ultimately asked to verify that the calibration scale was re-affixed and properly located after it was found to have fallen off since the previous calibration. This alone significantly reduced the upper district flow and reduced the penalties dramatically. Later, I was asked to testify when the upper district sued the lower district for damages under RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act). I understand that there were other legal proceedings between the parties afterward. 

Similar events still occur today. I read a recent article in a plant magazine that was written by a lawyer. It had nothing to do with this case, but it did speak about a local government assessing excessive fees. The article cited an administrative fee that would have resulted in one business paying two-thirds of a municipal sewage authority’s administrative budget for operations.  

Despite court intervention, the lower district was able to avoid fixing custody-transfer flowmeters—and get away with it. What is happening in your plant?