Drilling down into the details

We probably wont get a barrage of objections to motions until late today, so for those of you who seem to be following the day to day, and there seem to be a lot of you, I’m going to go a little deeper into the remediation plan.

I know there is a lot of controversy over whether this plan will work, and I don’t have the answer to that.  Last night I read the deposition of John DeGenova  from Haley and Aldrich.  He is the geotechnical engineer with 27 years experience, lives in Chester NH, and works in Concord.

Many may find this it a boring read, but let me say that you can get the jist of it in about five minutes.  I found his testimony to be quite straightforward and solid.  He is very good at describing exactly what slope stability is all about, providing practical examples of everyday applications, and specifically talking about the problems at Wolfeboro’s RIB site.

He talks about there being an index that indicates the relative stability of a slope.  He describes the scientific methodologies that have been developed to calculate the index, and describes the various considerations that go into deciding what is an acceptable index for a particular application.  If an apartment building sits on the edge of the slope, then a relatively high value would be needed because lives are at stake (think about the recent mudslide out west).  In other situations, it might not matter at all if the slope gives way a little.

One of the major applications to this discipline is embankments along roadways, particularly supporting overpass ramps.  You often see those slopes that have been stabilized with stone.  That’s some of the stuff Mr. DeGenova has done.  All in all, I was impressed with his direct and clear descriptions of the general problem and how his profession deals with it.

Ms. Cull, our attorney that was conducting the deposition, was thorough in testing his role in the Wolfeboro matter.  She pressed him to be sure that he understood the line between what he has attested to in the admissible expert report, and the work that he did subsequently to study and design the measures described in the slope stability report.  At one point he remarked that was “off the table”.

We’ll see where this goes, but the impression that I got after reading all of the deposition, was that Mr. DeGenova was competent at what he does and sincere in his opinion that the slopes could be repaired to withstand 600,000 gpd.  Is there any guaranty?  No, there is only the reliance in this established methodology being applied by a seemingly competent geotechnical engineer.

If Wolfeboro gets a payday from this, and after they’ve paid off the million in attorney’s fees and roughly $6 million in loans outstanding, I’ll be curious to see if they suddenly find this $1-2 million fix is a worthwhile gamble.  Apparently NHDES thinks it’s worth pursuing.

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