It’s nearly impossible to control the damages to the environment and water systems that can be caused by natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, Tropical Storm Sandy or the flooding that occurred in the State of Colorado last year. Infrastructure failures may also occur due to man-made disasters, water breaks during construction or in other ways because of the condition and age of the country’s underground infrastructure systems. In fact, most of the major urban water systems in the Northeast date back a century. With aging infrastructure systems across the country, it is inevitable that when a failure happens, legal issues and insurance claims follow. When they do, it is critically important for utility owners to be prepared to mitigate and avoid law suits. 

A recent study, commissioned by the Water Research Foundation (WRF), addresses the issue and provides a best practices guide for utilities on the legal principles governing this area of the law and offers effective measures utilities can employ both to defend themselves from the claims of those asserting damages from a break and to prosecute their own claims when breaks are not caused by either the utility’s actions or failure to act. Municipal lawyers and experienced attorneys can help provide the guidance and counsel that is necessary to solve these complicated and complex legal and insurance claims disputes. For assistance, contact our experienced Municipal Infrastructure Team Leader, Teno West at or municipal infrastructure attorney and co-author and investigator for the WRF project and best practices guide, Bruce Tobey at  We welcome your comments, questions and suggestions.