News Feature | January 8, 2014

$3.1 Million Deal Ends Lawsuit Over Boston Tap Water Failure

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome


When Boston-area residents lost clean water for over two days in 2010, a messy, expensive lawsuit quickly ensued. Now that lawsuit is finally resolved—with a settlement that topped out in the millions. 

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) announced last month that it approved a $3.1 million deal to settle the lawsuit against "the consultants, contractors, and suppliers responsible for a section of water main in Weston that suffered a massive failure in May 2010," the Boston Globe reported

The water main failure led to a boil water order for about 2 million residents, according to the AP. "The panel investigating the break found the most likely cause was the failure of bolts that held together two sections of the 10-foot-wide pipe," the report said. 

The problem affected 30 communities, according to WBUR. It occurred when "the coupling that held two pipes together failed." WBUR provided a layman's version of the technical problem.

"If you go down to your basement and your pipes aren’t all covered up with insulation, you can see couplings holding your pipes together. They’re also called collars. If they go, your pipes leak big time, and that’s what happened to the water main that carries most of Boston’s water.”

Only in this case, according to Fred Laskey, the executive director of the MWRA, the coupling that blew was huge.

Laskey said the settlement was “very reasonable,” the AP reported. He said the objective was to “make our ratepayers whole.” 

The large settlement was necessary to cover the damages, according to the authority. The deal "would cover nearly all of the MWRA’s costs to repair the pipeline and find and study the coupling components that failed. It also covers the cost of restoring the bank and channel of the Charles River nearby, where the water from the failed pipe flowed," the Globe said. 

Image credit: “Boston à l'heure bleue," © 2010 Manu_H, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license:

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