Monday, November 9, 2015

Lakeshore Global Submits Low Bid for Water Main Replacement Project, Contract WS-693

On November 5, 2015, Lakeshore Global Corporation submitted a low bid of $7,383,786 for the project known as "Water Main Replacement, Various Locations in the City of Detroit," DWSD Contract WS-693

There were only three (3) bidders on this project. The as-read bids received by DWSD are as follows:
  1. Lakeshore Global Corporation . . . . $ 7,383,786
  2. Major Cement Company . . . . . . . . . $10,908,851
  3. Inland Waters Pollution Control . . $11,220,902  

All three of these contractors are Detroit Based Businesses.

The scope of work for Contract WS-693 includes the replacement of approximately 23,300 lineal feet of existing 8-inch, 12-inch, 16-inch, and 24-inch water mains.

Comment: Lakeshore's bid is quite low, more than 30% below Major Cement's bid. Lakeshore was also significantly low on the prior water main replacement project, Contract WS-691, which was bid in May, 2014. Major Cement was ultimately awarded the contract.

For more about DWSD Update, click here

Friday, November 6, 2015

DWSD Files Price-Fixing Claim Against General Chemical, Alum Pricing at Issue (UPDATED)

On November 4, 2015, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department filed a Class Action Complaint in U.S. District Court in New Jersey against General Chemical Corporation and Frank Reichl, a former vice president of sales and marketing alleging price-fixing for aluminum sulfate (alum), a key chemical used in the water treatment process.

DWSD's lawsuit alleges that between January 1, 1997 through at least July 31, 2010, Defendants General Chemical Corporation and General Chemical Performance Products, LLC (Genchem) and Frank Reichl participated in a price-fixing and bid-rigging conspiracy involving the supply of alum.  

Alum is used in the water treatment process to remove fine particles from raw water. Alum causes fine particles to stick together (coagulate), which allows for settlement and removal as alum sludge. 

DWSD's lawsuit follows Frank Reichl's guilty plea in a federal criminal investigation in New Jersey on October 27, 2015. DWSD's lawsuit seeks certification as a class action lawsuit with DWSD as the lead plaintiff.

Comment: One stark example of how General Chemical's actions impacted DWSD can be seen in the Minutes of the April 27, 2011 Water Board Meeting, during which the Board approved a new three year alum contract with PVS Nolwood Chemical for $13,440,000. DWSD had previously contracted with General Chemical to supply liquid alum. 

DWSD requested bids from three alum suppliers. And although PVS was the only supplier to submit a bid, usually not a good sign, its quoted price to supply alum was $280 per ton. Under the previous contract with General Chemical, DWSD had been paying $404 per ton! PVS Nolwood Chemical's price was 30% less than General Chemical's price.

And in April, 2015, when the alum supply contract came up for bids again, DWSD received 4 bids. Chemtrade, a Canadian company which acquired General Chemical in December, 2013, submitted the low bid of $184 per ton! That's less than half what General Chemical had charged the Department in 2011. 

At its April 22, 2015 Regular Meeting, the Board of Water Commissioners approved a two-year contract with Chemtrade for $3,668,960 (9,970 tons x $184) with two, one (1) year renewal options at the same unit price. See Minutes, Item 15-1019.      

For more about DWSD Update, click here

Monday, October 19, 2015

Sue McCormick Selected to Lead Great Lakes Water Authority

The Board of Directors of the Great Lakes Water Authority voted 5-1 this afternoon for Sue McCormick to serve as the Authority's first CEO.  Ms. McCormick currently serves as the Interim-CEO. She most recently served as Director of DWSD from January, 2012 until two weeks ago when Gary Brown was selected to replace her. 

The only opposition to Ms. McCormick among the Board members was from Robert Daddow, who is the Oakland County representative on the GLWA. Mr. Daddow favored Randy Moore, an executive from American Water. Under the GLWA By-Laws, a minimum of 5 affirmative votes was required to approve the resolution approving Ms. McCormick's selection. The Board still must approve an employment agreement with Ms. McCormick.

For more about DWSD Update, click here

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Great Lakes Water Board Reduces List of CEO Candidates, Delays Final Vote until Monday

The Great Lakes Water Authority Board of Directors met this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. to select a new CEO, but decided instead to cut the list of candidates down to two - Sue McCormick and Randy Moore - and postpone a final vote until Monday, October 19th at 1:30 p.m. 

Ms. McCormick and Mr. Moore reportedly garnered the highest rankings among the four candidates, following a lengthy interview process on October 12th that ran more than 4 hours.  So, the decision was made to cut the short list in half.  

The decision to delay a final vote until next Monday was to give the Board enough time to receive and review complete background checks on the two finalists.

The GLWA Board meets in the 5th Floor Board Room in the Water Board Building at 735 Randolph.   

For more about DWSD Update, click here.

Friday, October 9, 2015

City of Flint Set to Return to DWSD for its Drinking Water, at least Temporarily (UPDATED)

On October 8, 2015, nearly 18 months after ending its 50 year relationship with Detroit, the City of Flint has decided to resume buying its drinking water from the DWSD system after encountering a myriad of problems with its source water, the Flint River.

The problems the Flint encountered with drawing water from the Flint River have ranged from taste, foul odor, and most recently, high levels of lead. The increase in lead levels is thought to be caused by corrosive elements in the Flint River. The finding of elevated lead levels in the blood of Flint children was the last straw, and compelled local and state leaders to support a return to DWSD. 

The issues concerning Flint's water problems are well documented in the, which is a website published and maintained by Virginia Tech researchers who are involved in studying Flint's drinking water. The Flint Journal has also followed this issue very closely.

Flint's return to DWSD is expected to take 2 weeks to complete. However, this will only be a temporary measure as Flint is committed to joining the Karegnondi Water Authroty (KWA), which is still constructing its new 63 mile raw water intake pipe. KWA's pipeline project is slated for completion in mid-2016. Once completed, Flint will receive raw water from Lake Huron, which it still must process through its own water treatment plant. Water from DWSD is already purified potable (drinking) water.  

Update (10/11): The Detroit Free Press has a very comprehensive article about Flint water woes and how better advanced planning and testing might have averted the current crisis.

Update (10/14): A copy of the water licensing agreement between the City of Flint and Genesee County Drain Commissioner can be found here. This agreement was required because after Flint terminated its contract with DWSD, it sold off a segment of water main to Genesee County.

For more about DWSD Update, click here.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Great Lakes Water Authority Approves Short List of Candidates for CEO (UPDATED)

On October 7, 2015, shortly after the Detroit Board of Water Commissioners approved a new Director and Deputy Director, the Board of Directors of the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) held a public meeting and approved a short list of 4 candidates to fill the top position with the new Authority. 

The four finalists for the CEO position are:
The GLWA Board will interview the 4 candidates in an open session on Monday, October 12, 2015 at 3:00 p.m.  (Update: According the GLWA's Calendar - - the CEO interviews are scheduled for Tuesday, October 13th at 4:00 p.m.The GLWA Board meets in the 5th Floor Board Room in the Water Board Building at 735 Randolph. 

The GLWA Board is also expected to deliberate in open session and select a CEO candidate with whom it will engage in contract negotiations.

Comment: Other than Sue McCormick, who is currently serving as Interim-CEO, and served as Director of DWSD for the past 4 years, I don't know any of the other candidates. I have linked each candidate to their LinkedIn profile. If any of you have insights about the other three candidates, now is the time to speak up!  

For more about DWSD Update, click here.     

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Water Board Approves New Leadership at DWSD

Earlier this morning, the Board of Water Commissioners approved the appointment of Gary Brown to serve as Director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Mr. Brown will replace Sue McCormick, who was appointed in November, 2011 to lead the Department. 

Mr. Brown currently serves as Group Executive of Operations for the City of Detroit. He previously served on the Detroit City Council and was a member of the "Root Cause" Committee created by Judge Sean Cox in 2011.

The Board of Water Commissioners also confirmed the appointment of  Palencia Mobley, P.E. to serve as Deputy Director and Chief Engineer.  Ms. Mobley currently serves as Transition Manager for DWSD, a position she's held since December, 2014.  

Prior to entering government service, Ms. Mobley worked as a Project Engineer for two private engineering firms -- Malcom Pirnie (now part of Arcadis) and Tetra Tech. Ms. Mobely has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering (Univ of Michigan, 2001), and a M.S. in Civil Engineering (Wayne State Univ, 2004). She is also a licensed professional engineer in the state of Michigan since 2006.  Click here for Ms. Mobely's complete professional profile. 

Mayor Mike Duggan recommended the appointment of Mr. Brown and Ms. Mobley in a September 21, 2015 letter to the Board of Water Commissioners

For more about DWSD Update, click here

Friday, October 2, 2015

Tooles Contracting Submits Low Bid on Lake Huron WTP Project, LH-397

On September 29, 2015, Tooles Contracting Group submitted the low bid for the project known as "Miscellaneous Concrete Crack Repairs and Restoration at Lake Huron Water Treatment Plant," DWSD Contract LH-397. 

The as-read bids are as follows:
  1. Tooles Contracting Group, LLC . . . . $ 922,264
  2. Detroit Contracting, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . $ 942,510
  3. Ram Construction Services . . . . . . . . $ 987,710
  4. Lakeshore Global Corporation . . . . . $1,049,000
  5. Elgin Builders, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$,1094,450
  6. Mark 1 Restoration Services . . . . . . . $1,182,260
Comment: It may be due to the nature of the work for this project, but there are a number of new faces in the bid tab. That's good.  Competition is a good thing. And in the case of Elgin Builders, a blast from the past.
For more about DWSD Update, click here.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Mediator's Tenure Extended, May Signal Extension of June 14th Deadline to Reach Deal with GLWA (UPDATED)

Update (6/8): At 8:37 a.m. this morning, the order entered on Friday extending Judge Cox's role as mediator was vacated by the Clerk of the Court. The order indicates that Friday's order was entered in error.   

Last Friday, June 5, 2015, the judge overseeing the remainder of Detroit's Chapter 9 bankruptcy entered  an order extending until January 1, 2016,  Judge Sean Cox's appointment as mediator of matters involving DWSD and the Great Lakes Water Authority.

Without an extension, Judge Cox's appointment would have expired on June 14, 2015, which is the deadline for DWSD and the Great Lakes Water Authority to finalize and execute the terms of a long-term lease. 

Under the contemplated lease agreements, the GLWA would operate and maintain DWSD's water and wastewater treatment facilities for 40 years in consideration of annual lease payments to the City of $50 million.

Under the terms of the Amended Plan of Adjustment submitted in the City's Chapter 9 bankruptcy, which created the Great Lakes Water Authority effective November 26, 2014, the new authority and the City of Detroit have 200 days to completion negotiations and execute the contemplated lease agreements. That deadline is June 14, 2015.

To date, these negotiations have occurred behind closed doors with Judge Cox serving as mediator, but subject to a court order prohibiting the participants from discussing any of the matters.  Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel has been very outspoken in his criticism of these confidential (secret) negotiations. Reports indicate that Macomb County has been shut out of the process. 

Comment: I have no inside information (which I couldn't share with you anyhow), but entry of last Friday's order, extending Judge Cox's tenure as mediator to the end of 2015, strongly suggests to me that the June 14, 2015 deadline to complete a deal on a long-term lease agreement is going to be extended. I don't know how you can finalize a deal if Macomb County is not part of the process. That makes no sense to me. If I were to guess, I would say the parties will ask (or have already asked) for a new deadline that goes to mid-October or early November. What do you think? 

For more about DWSD Update, click here

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

New Program to Keep the Water Running, Receives $1 Million Donation

With about 21,000 residents due to receive shut-off notices, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) announced over the weekend that The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW) had received a $1 million donation  aimed at helping City residents pay their water bills. 

The money was donated by Miller Buckfire, a New York investment firm that help shepherd Detroit through its historic bankruptcy in 2013-14 and earned $22 million in fees.

According to CEO, Saunteel Jenkins, the donation will be used for THAW's Water Assistance Program, which will launch on June 1, 2015. The program will pay up to $2,500 per household for families that are subject to shut-off and have incomes at 200% of the federal poverty level.  The new program will help about 1,000 families

News reports here indicate that Miller Buckfire's donation was part of a settlement it reached in December, 2014 with the City of Detroit, which had disputed its fees as part of the City's Chapter 9 bankruptcy proceeding. During mediation ordered by Judge Rhodes, Miller Buckfire reduced its fees from $28 to $22 million. 

Comment: I don't mean to diminish this significant contribution, but helping 1,000 families accounts for less than 5% of the households facing shut-off. There is nearly $49 million owed on delinquent accounts. There simply has to be a better long-term solution to the City's residential water needs.

For more about DWSD Update, click here

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

L. D'Agostini & Sons is Low Bidder on DWSD Water Main Project, WS-684 (UPDATED)

On May 5, 2015, L. D'Agostini & Sons, Inc. submitted the low bid for the project known as "36-Inch Water Main in Telegraph Road, Cherry Hill Avenue to Warren Avenue," DWSD Contract WS-684. LDS' bid was about 8.7% lower than the second bidder.

 The as-read bids are as follows:
  1. L. D'Agostini & Sons . . . . . . $9,173,049
  2. Tooles Contracting  . . . . . . $10,046,819
  3. Lawrence M. Clarke, Inc. . .$10,234,748
  4. Ric-Man Construction.  . . .$10,620,821
The Scope of Work for Contract WS-684 includes furnishing and installing 10,526 lineal feet of 36" water main, approximately 2 miles, together about 300 feet of 24" and 164 feet of 12" water main. 

Update (11/17): This project is being rebid on November 30, 2015 as Contract WS-684A. 

For more about DWSD Update, click here.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Imperial Construction Submits Low Bid on Water System Improvements Project, WS-686

On February 26, 2015, Imperial Construction submitted the low bid for the project known as "Water System Improvements, Various Streets" DWSD Contract WS-686. The as-read bids are as follows:  
  1.  Imperial Construction . . . . . . .$7,547,121
  2.  Major Cement Company . . . . . $7,894,134
  3.  Lakeshore Global Corp. . . . . . $10,463,330 
The scope of this project includes replacement of approximately 30,626 lineal feet of ductile iron water main and related fittings.

Imperial Construction was low bidder in 2012 on a similar project, WS-682A.

For more about DWSD Update, click here


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Lakeshore Global Low Bidder on PRV Vault Improvements Project, DWS-891

On December 23, 2014, Lakeshore Global  Corporation submitted the low bid for the project known as "Pressure Regulating Valve Vault Improvements," DWSD Contract DWS-891.  Lakeshore's bid was about 14% lower than the second bidder.

 The as-read bids are as follows:
  1. Lakeshore Global . . . . . . . . . $1,849,500
  2. Trojan Development . . . . . . $2,125,000
  3. Tooles Contracting . . . . . . . $2,178,440
  4. Lawrence M. Clarke, Inc. . . $2,190,000
  5. Detroit Contracting, Inc. . . .$2,460,338
  6. Weiss Construction . . . . . . . $2,596,000
The Scope of Work for Contract DWS-891 includes demolition and reconstruction of pressure regulating valve vaults in five different locations: at Sixth and Porter, Park and Elizabeth and Chane at Maple in the City of Detroit; Marquette and Inkster in Garden City; and South Boulevard at North Service Center in the City of Troy. 

The Scope of Work also includes removal and replacement of PRV and gate valves at all five locations, plus installation of ship ladders and sump pumps. 

For more about DWSD Update, click here.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Great Lakes Water Authority Seminar planned by Oakland County Bar Association

The Oakland County Bar Association is planning a lunch seminar on January 13, 2015 from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. to discuss the Great Lakes Water Authority.

Hosted by the Energy, Sustainability and Environmental Law Committee, this event will feature speakers L. Brooks Patterson, Oakland County Executive, and J. Bryan Williams, who is the Oakland County representative on the current Board of Water Commissioners. 

For more details concerning this event, check out the OCBA's Facebook page here. The Oakland County Bar Association is located at 1760 S. Telegraph Rd., Ste 100, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302-0181. 

For more about DWSD Update, click here 

Wayne County Appoints Nardone to Great Lakes Water Authority

The Detroit News reported last Friday [12/19] that the Wayne County Commission voted unanimously to appoint Joseph Nardone as the County's representative to the Great Lakes Water Authority. Mr. Nardone currently serves as Director of Development for the Wayne County Airport Authority. 

Mr. Nardone's LinkedIn profile (here) doesn't reveal very much information about his education or background prior to his appointment to the Airport Authority in November, 2012. The Detroit News reports here that Mr. Nardone previously worked for the Wayne County Parks Division and is a 1985 graduate of Michigan State University. 

For more about DWSD Update, click here.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Great Lakes Water Authority Schedules First Public Meeting (UPDATED)

The Detroit Free Press reports this morning (here) that the Great Lakes Water Authority is scheduled to hold its first public meeting on Friday, December 12, 2014.  The meeting will  be held in the Water Board Building, 5th Floor Board Room and begin at 1:30 p.m.

Notice for the meeting, published on the DWSD website, describes the meeting as an organizational meeting. To date, only two members of the GLWA Board have been appointed -- Robert Daddow for Oakland County and Brian Baker for Macomb County --  which is not enough for a quorum.  

The GLWA Board consists of 6 members, one appointed by Oakland, Macomb and Wayne Counties; two appointed by the City of Detroit; and one by the State of Michigan. The remaining four board members have not been announced publicly. 

Comment: Presumably, the new authority would not be meeting unless the remaining board members had been selected privately. I anticipate a public announcement of the remaining four board members within the next 24 hours. There's no reason to delay things further. Time to get down to business.   

Update (12/12/14 - 8:45 a.m.): Mayor Duggan has reportedly appointed Gary Brown and Ike McKinnon to the Board, both of whom are members of the Mayor's Administration. Governor Snyder has reportedly appointed Edward Hood, a retired attorney from Ann Arbor. Mr. Hood previously practiced with Dykema Gossett. No word yet on who has been selected to represent Wayne County. 

For more about DWSD Update, click here.    

Friday, November 21, 2014

Peter Cavanaugh Appointed to Pure Oakland Water Board of Directors

On November 7, 2014, Attorney Peter Cavanaugh was appointed to the Board of Directors of Pure Oakland Water for a three-year term.

Pure Oakland Water is a Michigan not-for-profit organization dedicated to protecting Oakland County and regional water resources through public education, community organizing, environmental advocacy, and promotion of a sustainable future. 

Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner, Jim Nash, is Chairman of Pure Oakland Water. 

Peter Cavanaugh is a Construction Attorney and Partner with the law firm of Cavanaugh & Quesada, PLC.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Detroit Bankruptcy Plan Approved

Well, that didn't take too long, did it? 

On Friday, November 7, 2014, just 16 months after filing the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, Judge Stephen Rhodes approved the City of Detroit's Plan of Adjustment. Crain's has the details here

For more about DWSD Update, click here.

Friday, October 24, 2014

DES Electric Submits Low Bid on Joy Road Pump Station Project, DWS-896

On October 23, 2014,  DES Electric, LLC submitted the low bid for the project known as "Joy Road Pumping Station - Replacement of Outdoor Plant Switchgear," DWSD Contract DWS-896. 

The as-read bids are as follows:  
  1. DES Electric . . . . . . . . $668,300.00
  2. Rotor Electric . . . . . . . $715,900.00
  3. J. Ranck Electric . . . . $749,465.00
  4. McGraw Electric . . . . $777,225.00
  5. Shaw Electric. . . . . . .  $939,600.00
  6. Lake Erie Electric . . .  $1,297,972.00
For more about DWSD Update, click here.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties Approve New Regional Water Authority (UDPATED)

On  October 9, 2014, Macomb County joined Wayne and Oakland Counties in approving plans to join the new Great Lakes Water Authority, which will lease DWSD's water and sewerage assets for 40 years.

Update (10/16): Oakland County has appointed Robert Daddow, deputy county executive, to serve on the Board for the new Great Lakes Water Authority.  Daddow is quoted by the Detroit News
"I'll have two measuring sticks while serving on the board," Daddow said. "One will determine whether a matter before the board helps or harms ratepayers. The other will ascertain whether it makes monetary sense."
Update: (10/21): Macomb County has appointed Brian Baker, finance and budget director for the City of Sterling Heights, to serve as its representative on the new Authority. 

For more about DWSD Update, click here.    

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Detroit Water Board Adopts Resolution Endorsing MOU, Great Lakes Water Authority (UPDATED)

On September 17, 2014, during a Special Meeting, the Board of Water Commissioners adopted a resolution endorsing the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and the formation of the Great Lakes Water Authority.  

The Detroit City Council is expected to vote on September 19th on a similar resolution. However, if the City Council fails to endorse the new authority, the Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr has the power to do so. 

Oakland and Macomb County Commissions are also in the process of reviewing and voting on adoption of the MOU and the Great Lakes Water Authority. 

Oakland County has a website here with much more information about the Great Lakes Water Authority, including draft Articles of Incorporation here.  Macomb County has posted information about the new authority here

Earlier this week, Crain's Detroit Business published two terrific articles here and here explaining the details of the new authority and how it will impact Detroit and the suburbs. 

Update (9/19): Detroit City Council voted 7-2 to approve the plan for a regional water authority. 

For more about DWSD Update, click here

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Detroit, Suburbs Strike Deal to Create Regional Water Authority (UPDATED)

Earlier this morning at a joint press conference, county executives from Wayne, Oakland and Macomb County, and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced their agreement to the creation of a regional authority, the Great Lakes Water Authority.  

This agreement was just announced. More details will details will follow. 

For more about DWSD Update, click here.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Board of Water Commissioners, Bankruptcy Court Approve Bond Exchange

On August 22, 2014, the Board of Water Commissioners approved a deal under which 28% of existing water and sewer bond holders agreed to tender back their bonds. The Water Board's decision came just a day after the deadline for bond holders to accept DWSD's tender offer, which expired August 21st at 5:00 p.m. (EDT).  

Earlier today [8/25], the Bankruptcy Court overseeing the City of Detroit's bankruptcy proceedings approved DWSD's decision to buy back and redeem $1.67 billion worth of water and sewer bonds.

According to DWSD's Chief Financial Officer, Nicolette Bateson, refinancing these bonds will save $11.4 million a year fro the first 19 years. Refinancing will also allow DWSD to raise $150 million for capital improvements to the sewerage system. 

The Detroit News explained on Friday [8/22] that acceptance of the tender offer would also remove bondholders from the bankruptcy process, "taking the wind out of ongoing litigation over the water and sewer bonds" and increase the likelihood that the City's plan of adjustment will be approved by Judge Rhodes. 

For more about DWSD Update, click here.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tracking DWSD's Bond Tender (UPDATED)

If you're interested in tracking DWSD's bond tender offer, there's a website that's providing real time coverage of the bonds and amounts that have been tendered back so far --

As of 1:00 p.m. EDT, 27.21% of the outstanding bond debt has been tendered back. The tender offer expires on Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. EDT. 

For more about the DWSD tender offer, Crain's Detroit Business had a terrific article this morning, click here.Fitch Ratings also has a good discussion here

Update (8/21): As of 5:00 p.m. EDT today, 28.35% of bonds had been tendered back.

Update (8/22): Its unclear whether the 28% of bonds that were tendered back by yesterday's deadline is enough.  The Board of Water Commissioners is scheduled to meet today in a Special Meeting at 1:00 p.m. EDT to discuss the matter and vote on a resolution either accepting or rejecting the tender. Click here to see the Agenda for today's special meeting.     

For more about DWSD Update, click here

Monday, August 18, 2014

Deal for Creating Regional Water Authority May Be Near, Detroit News Reports

Nolan Finley, columnist with the Detroit News, reports this morning that the City of Detroit and its suburban customers are close to a deal that would see the formation of a regional water authority. The City would reportedly be paid $50 million per year over 40 years as part of the deal being negotiated with Judge Sean Cox. 

Specific details are not available due to a gag order issued for the talks, however, Mr. Finley reports the following outline: 
A six-member board would be formed, with two appointments coming from the city of Detroit, one each from Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, as well as one from the state. Currently, the authority that runs the city-owned water system has four members appointed by Detroit and three by the suburbs.

All major decisions by the new authority, including contract awards, rate increases and construction projects, would require five votes.

That’s similar to the protocol at the Cobo Center authority, which requires a unanimous vote on major issues, a stipulation demanded by Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson. In exchange for acquisition of the water system and its assets, the authority would pay the city $50 million a year for 40 years. That premium was the major sticking point of the talks.

Stay tuned for more details. 

For more about DWSD Update, click here

Monday, August 4, 2014

Oakland Macomb Interceptor Drain, RFP Issued for Segment 4 Repair Program, OMID Contract 5

Last week, the Oakland Macomb Interceptor Drain Drainage District issued a request for bids for the Segment 4 Repair, Contract No. 5.

A mandatory Pre-Bid Meeting will be held on August 13, 2014 at the Macomb Intermediate School District (MISD) Educational Service Center located at 44001 Garfield, Clinton Township, Michigan, 48038. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. The Pre-Bid Meeting will begin at 10:00 a.m.

Bids will be opened on September 11, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. Office of the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner, Building 95 West, One Public Works Drive, Waterford, Michigan 48328-1907. Only bids received from registered contractors in attendance at the Pre-Bid meeting will be opened. All other bids will be rejected as non-responsive.

Scope of Work
Contract 5 repair work is located along the Oakland Arm Interceptor in PCI-9 and PCI-10A/B extending mostly along Utica Road in the cities of Sterling Heights and Utica and the Township of Shelby. PCI-10A/B reaches of sewer extend through the southern and northern parts (respectively) of a nature preserve, now comprised of Riverbends Park and Holland Ponds Park. In order to facilitate financing, Contract 5 work will be split into two separate Contracts, hereafter referred to as Contract 5 Phase 5A and Phase 5B, both to be awarded based on a single combined bid from a Contractor who is the lowest responsible and responsive bidder for both combined phases.

Phase 5B will be awarded and executed only if and when Federal Financing is obtained.

Work items for both phases of Contract No. 5 include the following:

Phase 5A
- Construction of permanent gravel roadways.
- Construction of temporary crossings.

Phase 5B
- Construction of 2 access shafts.
- Repair hole in the PCI-9 interceptor.
- Repair visible reinforcement and where reinforcement outline is visible.
- Inject cementitious grout (from in tunnel) in areas with suspected voids surrounding the interceptor; seal running and gushing leaks with chemical grout.
- Access manholes modification/restoration.
- Repair localized crack/fracture using chemical grout.
- Interceptor lining of selected locations.
- Interceptor lining at meter tap locations.
- Perform CCTV inspection after completion of repairs.
- Sewage flow management.           

The project will be funded under the Stormwater, Asset Managment, and Wastewater  Program. Click here for more information about the SAW program.

For more information about this project, contact Abdulnasser Almadhoun, P.E. at NTH Consultants - 313-237-3942 or by e-mail:

For more about DWSD Update, click here.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ric-Man Submits Low Bid on Middlebelt Tunnel Project for Oakland County WRC

Earlier today, Ric-Man submitted a low bid of $28,179,498 for the project known as "Middlebelt Transport and Storage Tunnel." Ric-Man's bid was one of 9 bids received by the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner, who is the Owner for this project. 
  1. Ric-Man Construction . . . . . $28,179,498
  2. Jay Dee Contractors . . . . . . . $31,679,620
  3. Triad Midwest Mole JV . . . . $33,020,000
  4. SAK Construction . . . . . . . . .$35,383,320
  5. Super Excavators . . . . . . . . . $35,943,000
  6. S. J. Lewis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $37,668,000
  7. Guy F. Atkinson . . . . . . . . . .$42,473,660
  8. Kenny Construction . . . . . . .$44,931,200
  9. McNally . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  $62,562,000

The Project involves the construction of approximately 7,600 linear feet of 108 inch diameter storage and transport tunnel with primary and secondary liner, two diversion chambers, six tunnel structures and other related Work. The tunnel runs along Middlebelt Road between 11 1/2 Mile and 13 Mile in Farmington Hills, Michigan. The Engineer's Estimate for the Project was $32.2 million.

For more about DWSD Update, click here.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

DWSD Water and Sewer Bond Rating Nears Bottom (UPDATE)

Detroit's water and sewer bond rating isn't at the bottom of Fitch's credit rating scale, but its getting very close. 

As reported earlier this week by Bond Buyer and today by the Detroit Free Press, the Fitch Ratings is warning that DWSD's $5.7 billion water and sewer debt could fall to "D" rating if the bankruptcy court approves the Emergency Manager's current plan of adjustment. 

Under the Fitch bond rating scale, there is nothing below a "D" rating. That's as low as it is. 

Comment: In my view, the negotiations concerning a regional water authority should be coming to a head very soon. With Governor Snyder poised to participate in the process, if his staff isn't already involved in the secret settlement talks, and the pressure from Wall Street beginning to build, I anticipate a tentative deal to be announced very soon. I think there is still much work to be done before any deal regarding the new authority can be finalized, but I think the outline of a deal is taking shape. 

Update (6/16): Earlier today, Fitch Ratings withdrew its "D" bond rating of Detroit's water and sewer debt. If I'm reading Fitch's ratings definitions correctly, Fitch is no longer providing a rating for DWSD's bonds. I think this is the equivalent of a stock being delisted by one of the stock exchanges. In other words, not good.     

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Mirza Rabbaig, PE: Reflections of a Colleague

Reflections of a Colleague

By: John McGrail, PE
Retired Head Engineer DWSD WWCG

A colleague dies and we reflect on his passing. We think of his wife and his children and how the loss will affect them. We secretly, I suppose think, "There but for the grace of God go I." We think back upon the years spent in close professional contact with our colleague and reflect on the ups and downs of that relationship and willingly, perhaps out of respect to the fallen colleague, extend to him the benefit of any doubt and remember all the good he did and we did together.

I did not know Mirza Rabbaig in the sense that he was a personal friend.  The department in which he and I spent over thirty years of our lives did not encourage the development of intimate friendships. Our department was not the kind of organization that saw such things as important. Perhaps such knowledge was not important. So I can speak only to what Mirza meant to me professionally.

Mirza was the sort of man who understood what needed to be done and then did it regardless of the obstacles placed before him. Mirza was the first and only leader of the department’s CSO program.  He became group leader of the CSO group around 1994 and from that time to the present day oversaw the development of a program that added more than 17 new facilities to the department’s infrastructure at a cost of nearly $500 million. In the 20 or so years from 1994 until the present day no group leader was more consistently and reliably productive than Mirza.

Here I must state my own admiration for the man.  My group was charged with the construction management of the department’s installation work. While my group worked everywhere in the department and installed projects generated by 13 head engineers over a period of thirty years, none produced more work than Mirza and since my group’s success was largely tied to the work product of the design groups, Mr. Rabbaig can be credited for a sizable portion of my success.

As time has passed, I find myself often remembering a lost colleague.  My friend and mentor Dave Casey like Mirza worked and never retired, dying before he had an opportunity to do so.  Just yesterday I learned of the death of AndrĂ© Hindo PE who, with his brothers Ned and Kal, were important personalities in the design and construction business in our region. Now I reflect on the passing of yet another colleague, Mirza Rabbaig and find myself sad and a bit lonely.

All who read this should remember Mirza as a man who got things done and who in significant ways improved the water quality environment of our region. 

If one day you are driving on I-94 west and pass the “concrete channel” on the Rouge River and see a heron wading along its shore stalking minnows, think of Mr. Rabbaig whose CSO facilities upstream made such a sight possible. Can we say more of a man who has left this sort of mark, I think not. 


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Lakeshore Global Submits Low Bid on Water Main Replacement Project, WS-691 (UPDATED)

On May 15, 2014, Lakeshore Global Corporation submitted a low bid of $11,798,827 for the project known as "Water System Improvements: Joy Rd from Trinity to Southfield Fwy," DWSD Contract WS-691. 

There were only three (3) bidders on this project. The as-read bids received by DWSD are as follows:
  1. Lakeshore Global Corporation . . . $11,798,827
  2. Major Cement Company . . . . . . . . $14,879,043
  3. Blaze Contracting, Inc. . . . . . . . . . $15,249,000  

All three of these contractors are Detroit Based Businesses.

The scope of work for Contract WS-691 includes the replacement of existing 8-inch, 16-inch, and 24-inch water mains. The Contractor will furnish and install approximately 13,300 linear feet of 8-inch, 133 linear feet of 16-inch, and 8,022 linear feet of 24-inch ductile iron pipe and fittings.  

Update (6/25): Major Cement Company was awarded this contract today at the Regular Water Board Meeting. Lakeshore Global Corporation's bid was rejected as non-responsive because the required bid security and accompanying documentation was not contained in the bid package at the time of submittal.

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