Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rouge River Outfall Project, MDEQ Issues Finding of No Significant Environmental Impact

On November 23, 2011, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) issued a Finding of No Significant Impact after conducting an Environmental Assessment of the Rouge River Outfall Project (RRO-2), DWSD Contract PC-786.

Unless the DEQ receives any substantive comments within 30 days of its finding, its preliminary decision will become final. At that point, DWSD will be eligible to receive loan assistance from the State Revolving Fund (SRF). 

The Rouge River Outfall Project was bid on November 17, 2011 (here). Contract PC-786 will likely be awarded to Walbridge Aldinger after the low bidder asked the City of Detroit to retract its bid

Due to the 30 day comment period, January, 2012 is the earliest that this contract could be presented to the Board of Water Commissioners for approval.

2011-11-23.Michigan DEQ Finding of No Significant Impact re Rouge River Outfall Project (RRO-2)                                                                                                   

For more about DWSD Update, click here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lakeshore Engineering Asks to Retract Bid on Rouge River Outfall Project, PC-786

Lakeshore Engineering has asked the City of Detroit for permission to retract its bid on the Rouge River Outfall Project (DWSD Contract PC-786), which was submitted last week. Lakeshore was read the low bidder on this project (here) at $11,855,749.

In a November 17, 2011 letter to the Purchasing Division, Lakeshore explained that one of its employees had retrieved the bid after it was submitted, but before the filing deadline, to make corrections. Lakeshore reports that it resubmitted the corrected bid before 2:00 p.m., but that its actions had raised concerns among the other bidders. To avoid a dispute, Lakeshore explained, it was asking to withdraw its bid.

Assuming the City of Detroit grants Lakeshore Engineering's request, Walbridge Aldinger stands to get the contract as the second low bidder at $12,970,000. 

For more about DWSD Update, click here

Friday, November 18, 2011

Judge Cox Denies as Untimely AFSCME Council 25 Motion to Intervene in EPA Lawsuit

Less than a week after AFSCME Council 25 filed its Motion to Intervene in the EPA Lawsuit in order to block implementation of the U.S. District Court's November 4, 2011 Order, Judge Sean Cox earlier today issued an Opinion and Order DENYING the motion on grounds that the motion was untimely. 

Timeliness of a motion to intervene is a threshold issue for any court to consider. In this case, Judge Cox found that "this Court's analysis begins, and ends, with timeliness." 

Judge Cox considered four (4) elements related to timeliness:

1. How long did AFSCME know of their interest in the case?
The first factor, the length of time preceding the application for intervention during which the proposed intervenor knew or reasonably should have known of his interest in the case, is the most significant factor here and weighs heavily against intervention.
The DWSD has been under federal court oversight since 1977. This case has garnered considerable media attention over the past four decades.  . . . [T]he risk that orders in this action may affect collective bargaining agreements and union work rules, as they relate to DWSD, has been apparent for decades. [Court then cites reports from 1977-2009]
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In addition, there is no question that AFSCME had actual knowledge, no later than September 9, 2011 [when the Court issued its Opinion and Order Denying Detroit's Motion to Dismiss the EPA Lawsuit], that its interests would likely be impacted by orders that would be issued in this case on an expedited basis.
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Nevertheless, neither AFSCME nor any of the other 19 unions that represent employees of the DWSD sought to intervene after this Court issued its September 9, 2011 Opinion & Order. Rather, union representatives met with members of the Root Cause Committee to voice their views and adopted a "wait-and-see" approach . . .

2.  What is the purpose for intervening in the lawsuit?

Under Rule 24 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Fed. R. Civ. P. 24), a motion to intervene must be accompanied by a pleading that sets out the claim or defense for which intervention is requested. 

In this case, AFSCME Council 25 did not attach a proposed complaint or other pleading.

3. Will there be prejudice to the original parties to the lawsuit? 

Judge Cox concludes in his Opinion and Order that the answer to this question is a resounding -- Yes.
The EPA initiated this action [in 1977] to address violations of the Clean Water Act, the objective of which is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters. It is undisputed that, over the course of the past four decades, the DWSD has had serious and recurring NPDES permit violations, which constitute violations of the Clean Water Act. 
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This Court has already concluded that certain collective bargaining provisions and work rules are impeding the DWSD from achieving compliance with its NPDES permit and the Clean Water Act and issued an order enjoining those provisions. If the Court's Order is not implemented immediately, the DWSD's ability to function and reach compliance with its NPDES permit, the ACO, and the Clean Water Act will be jeopardized. That would prejudice the City of Detroit, the DWSD and its customers, the general public, and the DEQ -- the entity current charged with enforcing the DWSD's NPDES permit, which has spent considerable resources monitoring DWSD over many years. 
4. How far has the case already progressed?

Judge Cox also answers this question in the affirmative citing the long duration of this case and numerous reports citing issues with the collective bargaining agreements, work rules and job descriptions.

2011-11-18.Opinion and Order Denying AFSCME Council 25 Motion to Intervene                                                                                                   

For more about DWSD Update, click here

Update (11/29): AFSCME Council 25 filed a Notice of Appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals today. See, USA v City of Detroit, Case No. 11-2517.