Thursday, December 17, 2009
Detroit Water Board Approves Sewer Repair Contracts to Inland Waters, Rejecting Lakeshore Engineering Protest
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Weiss --------- $ 25,312,000
Walsh --------- $ 25,550,771
Lakeshore ---- $ 25,972,000
Walbridge ---- $ 26,360,000
Tooles -------- $ 26,420,104
DeMaria ----- $ 26,892,000
White -------- $ 28,145,000
DCI ---------- $ 28,626,000
Under the auspices of the new Karegnondi Water Authority, Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright is spearheading this effort, which is aimed at giving Genesee and Sanilac Counties, along with the cities of Lapeer, Imlay City, and Flint more control over their water rates. Mr. Wright has touted significant ($200 million) savings for Genesee County residents, but a recent article in The Davison Index notes that those savings are projected to be "in the long run, after a slight increase over the course of a 25-year bond to pay for the pipeline."
Comment: Unless I'm misreading things, this means the projected savings for Genesee County residents won't materialize for more than a generation. Isn't that like promising a tax cut . . . that doesn't kick in until 2034?
Thursday, December 3, 2009
OMI Contract No. 1
- Ric-Man Construction $12,486,880
- Jay Dee Contractors $12,821,800
- Dan’s Excavating $14,488,800
OMI Contract No. 2
- Ric-Man Construction $16,338,600
- Jay Dee Contractors $18,814,000
- Dan’s Excavating $20,973,000
Monday, November 30, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
DWSD Contract SW-548, which was bid on September 1, 2009, involves a major overhaul of the Southwest Water Treatment Plant Sludge Treatment and Waste Washwater Treatment Facilities. The contract duration is 1,285 calendar days.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Due to DWSD's significant fixed costs, including bond debt and other fixed operating costs, a significant decline in water consumption (revenue) will mean that rates for next year are bound to increase even more than usual.
And as we reported last December, a decrease in water revenues may contribute to further delays in court-ordered improvements to DWSD's system. Earlier this year, DWSD canceled two major tunnel contracts -- the Upper Rouge Tunnel and the Detroit River Outfall (DRO) Contract No. 2 -- worth over $600 million on grounds that they were too costly. Many other projects, which were slated for bidding earlier this year have been delayed.
Friday, September 4, 2009
The Times-Herald takes issue with Genesee County's rationale for the new pipeline, including capacity, cost, and reliability.
- "Capacity is not an issue. The Detroit water line, which went into use about 35 years ago, was built to carry as much as 1.2 billion gallons of water each day. In actuality, demand has been far less."
- While Genesee County has complained that Detroit has doubled its water rates in the past seven years from $9 million to $18 million, "At that rate, how many years would it take to earn back [the] $600 million [Genesee County proposes to spend on a new water line]?
- "It's disturbing that Genesee County officials would complain of service disruptions . . . without mentioning how these were caused by a massive power outage in the [S]ummer of 2003 that affected much of the Midwest and Northeast."
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Colasanti------ $ 49,680,368
DeMaria------ $ 51,000,000
Walsh -------- $ 51,234,087
Walbridge ---- $ 51,397,000
Lakeshore ---- $ 52,835,824
Weiss ---------$ 57,890,000
Saturday, August 29, 2009
With an approved water withdrawal permit in hand, Genesee County can proceed with its announced plans to construct a new pipeline and water treatment plant under the auspices of the newly-formed "Karegnondi Water Authority." Approval of the withdrawal permit, may also spell doom for DWSD's Flint Loop project, which is designed to extend the DWSD system into Genesee County.
Right now, it will be 3-5 years of subsurface investigation, design, and construction before Genesee County will see a single gallon of water. Meanwhile, DWSD's Flint Loop project is already to proceed -- the design is complete, and a construction management contract (CS-1492) is already in place. Moreover, DWSD already has water treatment plant (Lake Huron WTP), with a current capacity of 400 million gallons per day, that was designed for expansion, and can accommodate increased water demands in excess of 1 billion gallons per day with additional pumps.
Does Genesee County really think it will save money by spending an estimated $600 million on a separate pipeline, water treatment plant, and related water transmission and distribution infrastructure? Really?
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
The OMI requires approximately $125 million in emergency repairs, according to DWSD Interim Director, Pamela Turner, although other estimates have put the price tag as high as $160 million.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
Genesee County Responds to DWSD's Criticism of Plan for New Water Authority, 85 Million Gallon Withdrawal Request
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
In a June 29, 2009 letter (below), Interim-Director Pam Turner lays out DWSD's opposition to Genesee County's plan. Among the objections, DWSD contends Genesee County's proposal violates the evaluation criteria in the Great Lakes Compact, because it fails to address the availability of existing water supply systems (ie., the DWSD system).
In particular, DWSD has already undertaken plans to improve the supply of drinking water to Genesee County.
Both the Flint Loop and North Oakland Transmission projects were designed to increase supply and provide redundancy for Genesee County and the City of Flint. DWSD has already spent $28.6 million designing these two projects, and awarded a construction management contract. Theses projects are "shovel ready," but require the City of Flint to sign a new 30 year contract with DWSD, particularly in light of previously reported declines in water revenue. Removing the City of Flint from the calculation of water rates would increase water rates for the remaining ratepayers at least 6%, according to DWSD's estimate.
Its also appears that Genesee County's plans caught DWSD a bit flat-footed. Ms. Turner complains that when DWSD and Genesee County met on March 10, 2009 to discuss a cost-sharing plan, Genesee County failed to mention that it had already filed its application for a withdrawal permit a month earlier.
The MDEQ will receive public comments on Genesee County's withdrawal application until July 15, 2009, and then is expected to make a decision by August 22, 2009. Given DWSD's opposition, a delay in MDEQ's decision is likely.
Friday, July 3, 2009
If you're interested in reading the underlying correspondence from the City of Houston, the documents have been posted on the Houston Chronicle's website here.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
The Court's June 30, 2009 Order sets an 8 year repair schedule, which is much longer than the 5 year schedule outlined at the June 10, 2009 public hearing on the OMI project. Its unclear why an 3 extra years was tacked onto the schedule when significant portions of the 21 mile long sewer are severely deteriorated and reportedly in danger of collapse.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Update (11/18/2011): Apparently the Detroit News has moved the above cited story behind a pay wall. Not to fear. The Detroit Free Press published a similar timeline in July, 2010, which is still an active link here.
Friday, June 26, 2009
In his statement, U.S. Attorney Terrence Berg closed the door Friday on additional prosecutions of elected Detroit City Council members in a corruption probe in connection with a sludge-hauling contract.
“Today’s guilty plea by Ms. Conyers marks the completion of the government’s investigation of the role that elected members of the Detroit City Council had in approving the Synagro contract, though the investigation regarding the Synagro contract continues as to others,” he said. “This investigation has not uncovered evidence sufficient to support charging any other elected members of the Detroit City Council with taking bribes or engaging in acts of corruption relating to the Synagro contract.”
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright told representatives of communities in Genesee, Lapeer and Sanilac counties at a meeting on June 25th that construction on the pipeline project could start by this time next year. He added that the chance to build the pipeline might never come again.
"If we don't take this opportunity -- in 30 years there won't be another opportunity to build this," Wright said. "Interest rates are favorable right now and there are government programs that could help pay" the cost of the borrowing.
The pipeline would be owned by a new Karegnondi Water Authority, which could include the city of Flint, the city of Lapeer, Sanilac County, Lapeer County, Genesee County and St. Clair County.
Communities that agree to join the authority would pay a proportional share of the cost of building the pipeline, according to Wright. He said his goal is to establish the authority within 120 days, complete engineering, design and surveying work in the next nine months, and start construction of the buried pipeline by the time next year.
[Note: Although Oakland contributed $125,000 to a joint study looking at the feasibility of a new regional water authority in 2007, it does not appear that they are ready to join Genesee County as part of the new Karegnondi Water Authority.]
The Detroit City Council today passed a water rate increase, averting a potential move by a U.S. District judge to unilaterally set higher rates for 4 million customers in 126 communities.
Customers are set to see bills go up about 8 percent, an amount Detroit Water Department officials say is needed to bolster declining revenues and counter surging interest rates on money the system has borrowed for capital improvements.
The measure passed in a 4-3 vote this afternoon. Members JoAnn Watson, Kwame Kenyatta and Brenda Jones continued their stance on not supporting the proposal that hurts city residents who are facing substantial financial issues. Monica Conyers, who voted against the measure Tuesday, was absent, as was Martha Reeves.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
One alternative for DWSD would be to request the U.S. District Court to order a rate increase. Judge John Feikens, who has had superintending control over the Department since 1977, has previously allowed DWSD to by-pass the Detroit City Council on such matters as approval of contracts.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
[Note: While a construction compliance order will make it easier for Macomb and Oakland Counties to secure State Revolving Fund (SRF) funding, it suggests that Judge John Feikens' 32 year oversight of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department will not only continue, but expand northward into Oakland and Macomb Counties. Is this sort of thing a good idea? ]
Friday, June 12, 2009
The OMI is a 21 mile length of sanitary sewer that is currently owned by the City of Detroit (DWSD). Under an agreement reached in December, 2008, and confirmed on May 12, 2009, ownership of the OMI will be transferred to Oakland and Macomb Counties. Since the OMI is the sole source of sanitary sewerage disposal for 830,000 suburban residents, and portions of the OMI have deteriorated severely since it was constructed by DWSD in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Macomb County believes that it is critically important that repairs to the OMI proceed under a court-ordered construction schedule.
The OMI Drain Repair Project is estimated to cost $160 million. The project will be competitively bid in the traditional manner (design-bid-build) under 3 to 4 separate contracts, the first of which is scheduled for bids by Fall, 2009. While a formal engineering contract has yet to be awarded, NTH Consultants is the leading candidate for the project.
Chapter 21 of the Drain Code permits a "public corporation" (city, village, township, etc) to petition the Department of Agriculture for the establishment of intercounty drain when necessary for the public health. The costs for the drain project are set by an intercounty drainage board composed of the drain commissioner of each affected county and the director of the Department of Agriculture, and are apportioned to each public corporation based on the benefits that each public corporation receives from the project and the extent to which the public corporation contributed to the conditions making the drain necessary. Affected public corporations are assessed the costs of the project and may levy taxes for the payment of the assessment irrespective of any statutory or charter taxation limit.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
The News does not report the legal basis for the threatened lawsuit.
Maybe the Cheboygan County Drain Commissioner, who writes the blog -- "Fire Dennis Lennox" -- has too much time on his hands and should be looking for something else to do.
[Update: A June 11, 2009 editorial in the Flint Journal calls Daniel Lennox's threatened lawsuit "absurd".
"Lennox's wild-eyed claims either demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of the [Great Lakes Compact], or, as Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright said on Monday, the lawsuit threat is political grandstanding."
If Cheboygan County makes good on its threat, we'll post a story on the factual and legal basis of the lawsuit. ]
Thursday, June 4, 2009
"The tunnel was designed to be 30 feet in diameter. It would have run parallel the Rouge River, mostly under park space, 160 feet below ground from Pembroke Avenue and Berg to Warren Avenue and West Outer Drive. The tunnel was intended to cut the frequency of overflow events from about 50 a year to fewer than one a year, reducing the overflow from an average of 1.3 billion gallons to 250 million gallons annually." (ENS)This story was also reported here by Water and Wastes Digest.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Earlier this week, the Genesee County Drain Commission applied to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to withdraw as much as 85 million gallons of water per day from Lake Huron.
"This (85 million gallon) volume would be adequate to meet the anticipated needs of Lapeer, Genesee and Sanilac counties and the city of Flint for the next several decades," said Jeff Wright, Genesee County's drain commissioner.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Judge Feikens, who is 91 years old, thanked the attorneys who have been involved in the decades-old litigation, and declared that resolution of the long-running dispute between the City and Suburbs signaled a new chapter in regional cooperation relative to water and wastewater matters.
This matter was also reported here by the Detroit Free Press.
Monday, April 27, 2009
"A pump station and a 9-million-gallon combined sewer overflow (CSO) basin are being constructed in Southwest Detroit, MI, in order to eliminate sewer overflows during heavy rain events in the area. L. D'Agostini & Sons, Inc./Lakeshore Engineering Services, Inc. Joint Venture is the general contractor. The work is being done for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD). The $154-million project began in the fall of 2007 and it will be completed in the summer of 2011.
"The combined storm and sanitary sewer water will be pumped from the pump station. The project includes six 72-inch pumps and two 54-inch pumps that discharge the water into 72-inch and 54-inch steel pipes. The water will then be treated and proceed through a series of screens to remove solids. The water is then stored in the CSO basin. As the rain event ends and the water flow is reduced, the water is released into the sewer and sent to the treatment plant. The work is part of a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) effort to clean the Rouge River.
* * *
"Subcontractors for the project include Barton Malow Concrete, of Oak Park, MI; De-Cal, Inc., of Warren, MI (mechanical); Shaw Electric, of Livonia, MI; and K&S Piling (pile driving). The engineering firm for the project is CDM, of Detroit."
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
- Electric Avenue Reservoir Construction and Booster Pump Station Rehabilitation (DWS-873) (R);
- Chemical Treatment System Modifications at the Northeast, Springwells, Lake Huron and Southwest Water Treatment Plants (DWS-867) (R);
- East Side City of Detroit Sewer Repairs Contract for Inspection of In-Place Rehabilitation of Existing Circular and Non-Circular Sewers (DWS-876) (D/B) (New);
- West Side City of Detroit Sewer Repairs Contract for Inspection of In-Place Rehabilitation of Existing Circular and Non-Circular Sewers (DWS-877) (D/B) (New);
- Lake Huron Water Treatment Plant Clearwell No. 1 Baffle Walls (LH-396) (New);
- Replacement of Existing INFI 90 Bailey Controls at Fenkell/Puritan and Hubbell/ Southfield CSO Basins (PC-761) (New);
- Complex I and II Incinerator Improvements (D/B) (PC-774) (New);
- Springwell Water Treatment Plant Discharge Header Pipe System Replacement (D/B) (SP-567) (R);
- Southwest Water Treatment Plant Sludge Treatment and Waste Washwater Treatment Facilities (SW-548) (R);
- Water System Improvements; Various Streets Throughout the City of Detroit (WS-648A) (New); and
- Parallel 42-Inch Water Main in 24 Mile Road, from Foss Road to Fairchild Road (WS-674) (R).
Thursday, April 2, 2009
[Update: TunnelTalk has an excellent article about DWSD's decision to terminate the DRO2 contract in its April, 2009 issue.]
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
The Detroit Free Press reports (here) -- On March 24, 2009, City Council voted 4-3 to reject a $2.2 million contract bid submitted by Ferguson Enterprises. Earlier this month, City Council voted to reject a $284,000 contract bid by the same company. That the FBI served a search warrant on Ferguson Enterprises and an affiliated company, Xcel Construction, on January 15, 2009 may have influenced the Council's vote. Bobby Ferguson is also widely reported to have had close ties with former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Further, the article stated that most of the region's water problems are tied to Detroit's aging water system. Of the 12,500 miles of water infrastructure in southeast Michigan, only 3,500 miles of pipe -- most of which is in the city of Detroit -- are owned and maintained by DWSD. The remainder is local infrastructure owned and maintained by individual communities.
DWSD remains committed to providing its 4.3 million customers with safe, reliable drinking water and responsible wastewater collection and treatment at affordable costs that place it as the third lowest of the nation's 20 largest municipal systems for water rates and eighth lowest for combined water and sewer rates.
Detroit Water and Sewerage Department
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
The City will begin remarketing another $300 million of varible-rate sewer debt into fixed-rate debt within two weeks.
The article notes that most of the bonds are bank bonds, and that Detroit enters the market under a certain amount of "liquidity pressure." Detroit must remarket these bonds before April 1, 2009 or face the start of an accelerated five-year amortization.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Dragline - Editorial Comment & News Analysis
March 13, 2009
By Guy Snyder
Keeping Things Fair
* * *
This time around the DW&SD has come up with a deal. If Genesee County will pay part of the construction cost of additional water supply lines, it will be given “special status.” This would qualify it for a major price cut — possibly as much as 50% — for water.
Yesterday the drain commissioner’s office reported it was still crunching the deal’s numbers. Even if they add up to Genesee County’s favor today, we still think the DW&SD’s critics have been making valid arguments. In the long run it may well be in the county’s best interest to opt out and build a modern water supply system of its own.
In our November 18, 2008, Dragline, we discussed Mr. Wright partnering with John P. McCulloch, water resources commissioner for Oakland County, to create a regional water planning group called the Karegnondi Water Authority. Its mission has been to investigate another water system that would not also serve Genesee and Oakland counties, along with the city of Flint, but Macomb and Lapeer counties as well.
A consultant was hired last fall but not named. It still hasn’t been named. The mystery firm was supposed to have delivered a report a couple of months ago. But we haven’t seen it. Our latest research indicates a final draft is slated for release next week. Okay, we’ll look for it. Surprisingly, the Karengnondi Water Authority has yet to establish a web site. (Does it even have a staff?) Must be the final draft is to appear on Mr. Wright’s web site. Or would it be Mr. McCulloch’s?
Don’t you love governmental transparency?
Even so, back in November the general news media was broadcasting a project estimate of $350 million for the new water supply system. The comments came anonymously from the usual “government sources.” The figure was supposed to cover a water treatment plant, 60 miles of water transmission tunnel and main, and related support facilities. The system would be designed to draw as much as 150 million gallons per day.
Genesee County had already purchased a 230 acre site with a 700 foot long shoreline on Lake Huron, north of Fisher Road, in Sanilac County. The properly had formerly been owned by Detroit Edison.
This week no money has been mentioned about what Genesee County would pay for the DW&SD’s new water supply lines. Still, the cost of the entire proposed system has been pegged at $750 million. Presumably the county would have to pay for the portion that traverses Genesee County. It wouldn’t surprise us, though, if it turned out to be a capital investment close to the entire price of a new, independent system.
If it is, participation by Mr. Wright would require a deeper plunge into Genesee County’s pocket. That’s because the cost of the Karengnondi Water Authority system mentioned above would be split by a minimum of four counties. Perhaps even five ways, if the city of Flint is included.
The decision’s not up to us. But even without looking at the DW&SD’s “offer,” if we were the Genesee County Drain Commissioner we’d be strongly motivated to reject it.
The manner in which the deal’s being presented by the general news media arouses suspicion. What may seem a favorable break on water rates today could disappear after the new DW&SD water lines are finally in the ground. We also suspect Mr. Wright and the city of Flint will find greater respect for their concerns from the Karegnondi Water Authority than they currently do from the Detroit Board of Water Commissioners.
We mentioned last fall’s 15% increase. In late January of this year the water commissioners approved wholesale rate increases averaging 8.9% for water and 2.4% for sewage for its suburban customers, including Mr. Wright. The increases are to take effect on July 1st if they win the approval of the Detroit City Council. The council was supposed to take them up yesterday but our deadline for this column closed before we could find out if it did.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
George Ellenwood, a spokesman for the Detroit Water and Sewage Department (DWSD), said I-96 was reopened by noon, but Schoolcraft will remain closed between Beech Daly and Inkster until repairs are completed early this week. Excavating crews were at the scene and expected to work throughout the weekend.
The immediate cause of the break was not known, although it cold be part of a pattern of breaks related to DWSD's aging infrastructure. In July, 2007, portions of the same water main that broke Saturday broke near Livonia, and flooded I-96.
"Brittle and badly aging water pipes are lurking beneath many metro Detroit communities and will cost taxpayers billions of dollars to repair or replace over the next decade."
Sunday, March 1, 2009
"County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright and a spokesman for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department confirmed Friday they have been and will continue talking March 10 about renewing what's been an unhappy marriage -- even as the idea of water independence gets all the attention."
"A decision has to be made by August as far as I'm concerned," said Wright, who said there's at least a 50-50 chance the county will break from Detroit and build the water line at a cost of more than $300 million.Genesee County is one of a number of counties which are studying alternatives to buying their drinking water from the City of Detroit. Meanwhile, DWSD is proceeding with plans to add capacity to its system. The Flint Loop and North Oakland Transmission System (NOTS), would add miles of additional water main and redundancy to DWSD's drinking water transmission system.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Work will continue, however, on the Upper Rouge CSO (South) Tunnel (PC-764), which was awarded to Kenny/Obayashi, JV in September (reported here).
The Upper Rouge CSO Tunnel project is a requirement of the Department's NPDES Permit, and is subject the Second Amended Consent Decree in the EPA Litigation.
[Update: On March 18, 2009, McGraw Hill Dodge Reports indicated that this project was on hold until 2014. ]
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
IMG was originally hired in November, 2002 at the direction of Judge John Feikens, who has had superintending control over the Department since 1977.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
“In Cockrel’s first State of the City speech -- given two weeks before the mayoral primary election in which he is a candidate -- he said he will assign Deputy Mayor Saul Green and others to research a method of ensuring that vendors win contracts on their merits.”
“They should not get contracts because of who they know or who they're related to, and they should not be rewarded for political donations or favors,” Cockrel said, generating applause.. “As long as I'm mayor, pay-to-play is history in the City of Detroit.”
[Note: I’ll provide more information on this subject when it becomes available.]
Monday, February 2, 2009
For more information about the Upper Rouge CSO Tunnel project read here. For specific information about PC-763 (South Tunnel), read here.
Friday, January 30, 2009
"City officials called Synagro President Robert Boucher this morning and asked if Synagro would agree to terminate the contract. Boucher immediately accepted, understanding the taint that former Synagro vice president James Rosendall’s guilty plea put on the deal.
“I think they recognized that the contract could not be allowed to continue,” Detroit Mayor Ken Cockrel Jr. said. “If we have a contract that has been let and approved by the City of Detroit and we have a representative … who has pled guilty in a court of law to paying bribes, the contract at least on the surface obviously appears to be tainted.”"Darci McConnell, a spokesperson for Synagro, issued a statement on behalf of the company, expressing its disappointment.
“We reached this mutual decision with the city because it was appropriate under the circumstances,” she said. “We at Synagro take our, legal, ethical and environmental obligations seriously, and we are confident that the controls we have in place will ensure that inappropriate behavior will not be repeated.”"Synagro’s agreement to terminate the contract without a fight saves the city from what would have been a costly legal fight to void the contract."
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Friday, January 9, 2009
- Electric Avenue Reservoir Construction and Booster Pump Station Rehabilitation (DWS-873);
- Chemical Treatment System Modifications at the Northeast, Springwells, Lake Huron and Southwest Water Treatment Plants (DWS-867);
- Springwell Water Treatment Plant Discharge Header Pipe System Replacement (D/B) (SP-567);
- Southwest Water Treatment Plant Sludge Treatment and Waste Washwater Treatment Facilities (SW-548); and
- Parallel 42-Inch Water Main in 24 Mile Road, from Foss Road to Fairchild Road (WS-674).