Wednesday, December 3, 2014

FOIA Requests Dangle and Other Earth-Shaking News

UPDATING the post here November 21, 2014, I’m still waiting for substantive responses to FOIA requests I directed to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner (OCWRC) concerning inconsistent soil erosion standards at construction sites.

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For years, SCIO TOWNSHIP near Ann Arbor has considered leaving the Ann Arbor wastewater treatment system and building its own wastewater treatment plant.  The subject has come up again recently.  If the township proceeds, it could be a trend-setter in the region.  It will be interesting to see which treatment technology they adopt and what the cost projections are.

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Last month, I was astounded to learn that the estimated cost of a tree planting project, intended to reduce combined sewer overflows (CSOs), coordinated by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD), was $6 per gallon diverted.  CSOs can run in the billions of gallons per year!  Who’s got that kind of money?  Not DWSD, that’s for sure.  What was SEMCOG thinking?  Tree planting is an essential part of CSO control, but not the way SEMCOG planned it.

Pursuant to the Michigan Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), I asked DWSD to furnish me with copies of all COST/ BENEFIT ANALYSES prepared or obtained by DWSD in connection with the aforementioned tree planting project, which is part of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) green infrastructure provisions in DWSD’s discharge permit.

The reply was that such cost/benefit analyses did not exist.  WHY NOT?

(Incidentally, earlier this year, Tetra Tech, Inc. replaced SEMCOG as DWSD’s consultant on NPDES green infrastructure implementation.)

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