FDD Contract Extended for CDM Smith

A contract extension with CDM Smith Inc. for continued work as part of Ann Arbor’s footing drain disconnection (FDD) program has been approved by the city council. The vote at the council’s June 2, 2014 meeting was 6-2, over dissent from Jack Eaton (Ward 4) and Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1). Mike Anglin (Ward 5) was absent.

It had previously been postponed at the council’s May 5, 2014 meeting, to be taken up again on June 2. During the postponement, the dollar amount of the contract extension had been reduced from $748,106 to $143,440. That reflects a reduction in the scope of the work. The original May 5 resolution called for the following activities to be funded: citizen support ($36,928); FDD citizens advisory committee meetings ($24,180); information management for sump pump monitors ($93,707); developer offset mitigation (DOM) program support; ($95,213); and multi-family FDD implementation ($498,005).

No longer a part of the scope of work in the approved June 2 resolution were the FDD citizens advisory committee meetings, information management, or the multi-family FDD implementation. The revised memo describes how the funding would only provide a bridge until recommendations from a study group have been received, which will determine the future of the FDD program:

This amendment would provide the services needed to bridge the gap until the SSWWE [Sanitary Sewer Wet Weather Evaluation] Project recommendations have been made. Presently, the anticipated timeline for completion of the SSWWE Project is in the autumn of 2014. That does not allow sufficient time to issue a new RFP, collect and review proposals, award a contract, and bring a new consultant up to speed to manage the remaining FDD and DOM work outlined above. Existing City staff does not currently have the available resources or expertise to perform the inspections required for the DOM program.

Details on the council’s June 2 deliberations are provided in The Chronicle’s live updates filed during the meeting.

By way of additional background, in 2012 the city’s program to disconnect footing drains from the sanitary sewer system was suspended by the council in some areas of the city. Specifically, it was suspended in the Glen Leven and Morehead (Lansdowne neighborhood) areas. The program was allowed to continue in other geographic areas and as part of the city’s developer offset mitigation (DOM) program. The DOM requires owners of new developments to complete a certain number of FDDs to offset the additional flow in the sanitary system caused by new construction.

The CDM contract drew scrutiny at the May 5 meeting because the city is currently undertaking a sanitary sewer wet weather evaluation (SSWWE) study. It’s supposed to yield a recommendation about whether to continue with the FDD program, and if so, in what form. In addition, the city’s ordinance – which requires property owners to undertake FDDs – was challenged in a lawsuit filed earlier this year. That case is pending as the city first removed the case from state to federal court. But the result of a May 28 hearing before a federal judge will be to return the case to the Washtenaw County 22nd circuit court.

The previous three iterations of the CDM contract totaled  about $3.6 million. The money for these contracts is drawn from the city’s sewer fund.

The proposed contract extension drew criticism during public commentary on May 5 from Frank Burdick, a Ward 4 resident who urged the council to reject it. Burdick spoke again during public commentary on June 2, and again advocated for rejecting the contract.

Since the FDD program’s start in 2001, about 1,834 footing drains have been disconnected through the city program and 848 footing drains have been disconnected through the developer offset mitigation program.

Animation of contrast between the pre-FDD configuration and the post-FDD configuration. (Original illustration from screenshot of Youtube video by Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, modified by The Chronicle.)

Animation of contrast between the pre-FDD configuration and the post-FDD configuration. (Original illustration from screenshots of YouTube video by Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, modified by The Chronicle.)

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron.