Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Detroit Water Board Approves 5 Year Capital Improvement Program (CIP)

At its July 27, 2011 meeting, the Board of Water Commissioners approved a $1.3 billion Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for 2012-2016. 

Of this amount, $740.4 million is earmarked for new construction and improvements to DWSD's water and wastewater facilities; $591 million is for projects that are already under construction.

Of the new construction funding, $422.5 million is designated for water projects, and $317.9 million is designated for wastewater projects. 

After completing this review, a Draft CIP was submitted to the Board of Water Commissioners for approval at its July meeting.

During the July 27th meeting, a number of Commissioners expressed concern about the amount and timing of information provided to suburban (wholesale) customers of the Department.
  • Commissioner Bryan Williams in particular expressed his concern that the CIP doesn't reflect current needs and that the whole process for approving capital projects should be changed radically. He recommended (i) starting the process earlier; (ii) providing a formal schedule for customer input; and (iii) circulating an original and red lined version of the CIP to show changes.
  • Commissioner James Fausone echoed those concerns, that the wholesale customer base needed more time to review DWSD's proposed spending plans.
  • Commissioner Fred Barnes reported hearing from suburban customers who hadn't seen the revised CIP and weren't involved in the process.
Deputy Director Daryl Latimer and Assistant Director James George indicated that suburban communities had been briefed about DWSD's capital spending plans through the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), and that the CIP has generally not been subject to Board approval. 

Acting Director Chris Brown requested that the Board approve the revised CIP with the condition that the Assistant Director George answer the Commissioner's remaining questions. 

The Board approved the 2012-2016 CIP on a 6-1 vote. Commissioner Williams was the lone dissent.

Comment: While we haven't had time to thoroughly compare the updated CIP with last year's version, it appears that the Springwell's Water Treatment Plant (SP-563) project has survived and will be coming out for bids shortly.  The most recent list of proposed construction contracts indicates a September, 2011 bid advertisement date.

Among the projects that appear to have lost out, both the Flint Loop and North Oakland Transmission System (NOTS) water main project appear to have been cut. There is no money allocated to the oversight contracts (CM-2017 and CM-2016), which were previously awarded. 

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