Friday, August 31, 2012

DWSD Hires General Manager for Wastewater Operations Group

Wendy R. Barrott has been hired by DWSD to serve as General Manager for the Wastewater Operations Group, which includes the City of Detroit’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. This is not a new position. 

Wendy Barrott
Ms. Barrott is expected to take the lead in administering Air Emissions (incinerators, emergency generators), and Residuals Disposal Management (disposal of grit, bio-solids, screenings, grease, and rubbish). She will also assist in the further development and implementation of the Department’s Green Infrastructure plans.  As General Manager, Ms. Barrott will report to the Assistant Director for Wastewater Operations, Sam Smalley  

Prior to joining DWSD, Ms. Barrott served in 2011 as the City of Ann Arbor’s Community Energy Coordinator, and helped implement the City’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program (read more here, and here). 

Prior to her work in Ann Arbor, Ms. Barrott worked as the Director of Energy and Environmental Services for the City of Fort Wayne, Indiana (2006-2010); as the Board Administrator to the Detroit Area Regional Transportation Authority (DARTA) (2004); and as the Director of Air Quality for the Wayne County Department of the Environment (1997-2003). 

Ms. Barrott began her professional career at General Motors in 1983 where she worked as an engineer responsible for environmental compliance, permitting, and plant operations issues. Ms. Barrott held various positions with GM between 1983 and 1997, including Superintendent of Environmental Operations. 

Ms. Barrott holds both a B.S. and M.A. in Environmental Engineering from Purdue University (1983) and is a Certified Energy Manager (CEM), Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM), and was awarded a Smart Growth Leadership Certificate from the University of Maryland.

Ms. Barrott has two LinkedIn Profiles (here and here).

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

DeMaria Submits Low Bid on New Maintenance Contract, PC-790 (UPDATED)

DeMaria Building Co. submitted the low bid earlier this afternoon on DWSD’s new maintenance contract, also known as Contract PC-790, “Equipment Purchase and Installation on an As-Needed Basis.”  

  1. DeMaria Building Co. . . .$20,457,244
  2. Weiss Construction . . . . .$22,601,269
  3. Motor City Electric . . . . . $23,691,917
  4. Walsh Construction . . . . $26,366,000
  5. Barton Malow . . . . . . . . . $26,991,000
  6. Titus Welding Co. . . . . . .$30,840,467  
The scope of Contract PC-790 includes furnishing the skilled labor, working foremen and overall supervision required to complete major and minor skilled trades maintenance projects as well as specialized subcontract maintenance services on an as-required basis at the Wastewater Treatment Plant Operations, Group Facilities, CSO Facilities, Wastewater Treatment Plant, Industrial Waste Control Facilities, and all other DWSD facilities related directly or indirectly to the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Update (9/26): The Board of Water Commissioners today approved a contract with DeMaria Building Co. in the as-bid amount of $20,457,244 for a duration of 1,095 calendar days. Comments made by Commissioner Fred Barnes during the Board Meeting suggest this may be the last time DWSD procures maintenance services in this manner. He referred to the maintenance contract as a "dinosaur" which "hopes will go extinct." 

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Former Head Engineer Weighs in on DWSD Restructuring Plan

As he did following Judge Cox’s rulings last November (here), Former Head Water Systems Engineer, Dennis L. Green, P.E., recently weighed in on DWSD’s plans to dramatically downsize its staff size.  Mr. Green, who retired from DWSD in 2009, wrote a Letter to the Editor published by the Detroit Free Press (here) on August 16, 2012: 
During my 41 years with Detroit Water and Sewerage Department Engineering, I had some contact with EMA consultants. While one of the better consultants technically speaking, I question the choice of an organization having limited experience and ties to the area for planning the future of the DWSD.

Like most consultants I dealt with during my tenure, they are salesmen first, businessmen seeking profits second, and engineers last. Nearly all consultants I dealt with stick to the conventional wisdom, because it avoids the risk of error from their limited and superficial knowledge of the client.

Editorial Page Editor Stephen Henderson's Aug. 9 tirade ("Intolerable waste in the Water Dept.") says he has taken their report as gospel. Atlanta tried massive outsourcing of its water operations, and it led to a collapse of service, requiring a costly reconstruction of its department. Are we about to repeat the proverbial unlearned lesson of history?

The proposed solutions I'm hearing are platitudinous clich├ęs once you get past correcting the obvious outrageous practices. Outsourcing is just another way, and an inefficient way, of turning DWSD into a for-profit operation by divvying it out piecemeal on short-term leases as service contracts, yet we are told to believe that adding profit mark-ups and the administrative costs of bidding and administering outsourcing contracts reduce the total cost.

The staggering overhead of contracting is invisible if city workers are not unshackled from the city's own stupid rules and allowed to compete. For example, my unionized staff saved DWSD more than a million dollars over the consultant's proposal for designing the wholesale water metering system contract, even doing it on overtime at time-and-a-half so as not to interfere with our regular duties, but I'll bet my pension that is not in EMA's report, because they probably told the client what they thought it wanted to hear. The anti-union rhetoric declared the verdict before the trial.

Dennis L. Green, P.E.

What are your thoughts about DWSD's plans? Post a comment or let me know offline.

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Detroit Water Department Proposes Major Restructuring

On August 8, 2012, Director Sue McCormick announced plans for massive overhaul of DWSD operations, including plans to cut more than 1,600 jobs. Details of this plan are reported here by Crain's Detroit Business.  In addition, a video of the Director's presentation to the Water Board can be found here, and here.  The slides, minus audio, are below.

DWSD Restructuring Presentation - August 8, 2012

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