Older Agenda Items and Updates Pg 3




 



Proposed Agenda

Thursday; February 20, 2014


Ann Arbor Green Streets Policy Get Council Approval
 
Recently installed Rain Garden on Miller Ave., City of Ann Arbor
  • Tuesday night City Council approves Green Streets Policy Statement
  • ACWG has worked hard with the Water Committee of the Environmental Commission (EC) for over the last 2 years on this effort, to encourage this type of change in fresh water runoff (stormwater) management. Many communities are also moving toward similar changes in stormwater management.
  • After many public meetings including those with interested stakeholders and many revisions it was recently passed by the EC and sent on to council.
  • Ann Arbor streets contribute more then 54% of the City's runoff to the Huron River.
  • The Green Streets Policy could not have happened without substantial help of staff in both the outreach and policy formulation assistance they provided over a two year process. 
  • We feel the Green Streets Policy will greatly enhance the quality of life, flood hazard reduction in Ann Arbor and significantly reduce the environmental pollution loading to the Huron River and Lake Erie. In the recent years Lake Erie has had over 1/4 of the western side of the lake covered in algal blooms; with up to 20M using it for drinking water source.
  • To the credit of city staff Ann Arbor has already moved to implement a Green Streets program with the work already completed on many street projects and planed for several streets in the city.
  • The effects on Michigan from Climate Change are predicted to create more rain fall amounts in the years to come and with the flood hazard facing the city this effort over time will greatly help prevent loss of life, health and property. Additionally it will help shrink the floodplain preserving the tax base of the city, especially in the flood prone Allen's Creek Watershed. The Green Streets Policy will make Ann Arbor stand out as a forward thinking community solving difficult issues and saving tax payers funds. 
  • As noted by CM Mike Anglin the FEMA Insurance rates are expected to go up significantly (the east coast has seen proposed jumps of up to 10x ) in the next few years effecting large parts of the ACW and wide spread use of this effort could greatly reduce the need for flood insurance required of homes in floodplains by FEMA.
  • Also commented on by CM Anglin is the need to obtain open space in the city as a means to reduce the significant flood hazard facing the community, before these spaces are gone. The Green Belt Millage has set aside funds for Green Space inside the city which has had little use to date.
  • This Green Streets Policy statement has already received requests for more information from Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) and the American Public Works Association.
  • This change will help the city meet requirements of the mandatory National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit required by the Clean Water Act.
  • Link to EC Green Streets Policy Statement

Footer Drain Disconnect Citizen Advisory Committee (FDD CAC) Meetings
 
Basement Footer Drains to SS, OHM
  • This self selected and invited members committee is looking at the FDD program, that has been partially put on hold, to help determine its 'economically viable, community acceptable alternative(s)' and make recommendations to City Council. Meetings running between 8/13 and 7/14.
  • With some homes in the Lawton neighborhood built in old creek beds and in wetlands it is clear that the design of some of these neighborhoods was very poor with regards to watershed effects and will prove to be very costly.
  • All options are being considered from discontinuing the FDD program, stormwater management changes to installation of large sewage holding tanks.
  • We and others have raised concerns on the use of sewage holding tanks after the initial plan in 2001 was to use sewage holding tanks in several woodlands in the city, that was changed to the less costly FDD program.
  • After discussing this in recent years with maintenance workers with the city is is clear that there are issues with getting qualified workers and the effectiveness of maintenance of these types of large holding tanks.
  • More discussion of the effects of large expensive sewage holding tanks needs to occur before we switch to this type of solution.
  • The cost of treating clean rain water and the potential of sanitary overflows into the Huron River at the over taxed treatment plan also need to be included in any calculations.
  • The Lawton neighborhood will need any and all options to solve this areas significant water problems. Flows from I94 and the nearby townships that are preventable need to be addressed.
  • Link to City FDD site

Changes Coming in the Water Resources Office's Requirements
 
  • The Water Resources Commissioner's Office (WRC) is revising its stormwater requirements 
  • The proposals are said to rely much more heavily on rain water infiltration and less on detention and piping.
  • The City of Ann Arbor works closely with and relies on the WRC to approve developments and watershed improvements.
  • Public meetings will be held to discuss the, as yet unpublished, proposed changes.
  • The Green Streets Policy is an example of the changes in rain water management that is being proposed.
  • The ACWG has worked hard to encourage this type of change for Ann Arbor especially in the over taxed ACW and will be very interested in the proposed changes.

MDEQ Potential Violation of the OMA when Members of CARD were Refused Notice of a 1,4-Dioxane Toxicology Presentation and Discussion with MDEQ
 
  • Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) Potential Violation of the Open Meetings Act (OMA) when members of the Coalition for Action on Remediation of Dioxane (CARD) asked to attend a planned meeting between the MDEQ and a Pall Corp. consultant to challenge the toxicity of 1,4-Doixane.
  • The meeting was held on October 8, 2013 without giving prior notice of data and time to CARD as was requested by CARD in advance.
  • CARD ask for a summary of the meeting and received one on January 14, 2014.
  • At this meeting the consultant was attempting to show the 1,4-Doixane was a 'threshold carcinogen' and should have a much higher exposure standard than that proposed by the US-EPA. The EPA does not have a category 'threshold carcinogen' in its regulatory statutes.
  • Any discussions that could lead to policy changes are subject to the Michigan OMA requirements.
  • Discussion on options to file complaint.
  • Additionally some recent data from monitoring well show higher than expected 1,4-Doixane levels very near the northern Prohibition Zone (PZ). Levels are close to the 85 ppb limit which could require again moving the PZ to the northeast. Few wells are in this area, contrary to DEQ requests, Judge Shelton did not order new wells in this area. More wells and data are need in this area to determine the flow of 1,4-Doixane as the Barton Pond is in the path of this flow and 90% source of our drinking water.
  • More effective cleanup is need to capture this plume before it gets to close to Barton, to stop it from contaminating our drinking water source which will be very hard and very expensive to replace.
  • Judge Shelton is leaving the bench later this year because of age limits and a new judge will need to decide if the court should be the arbiter of this clean up effort or turn it fully back to the MDEQ, which would be the better outcome.
  • Link to CARD site

Porous Pavement on Downtown Street in Provincetown Mass. Proves to Dramatically Prevent or Eliminate Beach Closures
  • Dec 14, 2013
  • 'The new porous pavement installed on Commercial Street is beginning to show a dramatic ability to decrease the amount of contaminated runoff that flows into Provincetown Harbor. The state-of-the-art pavement project, now nearly a year old in the center of town and currently being extended into the West End, is being credited for a sharp drop in beach closures this summer.
  • “It’s definitely meeting or exceeding expectations in terms of cleaning water runoff,” said Richard Waldo, director of the department of public works.
  • While the numbers don’t scientifically account for storm frequency or rainfall volume from year to year, they are proof that the porous pavement has been a huge early success, said Brian Carlson, Provincetown’s health and environmental affairs manager.
  • So far, early concerns about the project have proved false. The town has seen no “substantiated” signs of basement flooding caused by the pavement, and winter maintenance without the use of pore-clogging sand has been manageable, Waldo said.'
  • Previous years on this beach area and other similar nearby beach areas had 15-25 closures, with porous streets installed it dropped to 0.
  • So successful expansion of the program is being planned for 2014.
  • Link to article (bold by us)




Current Watershed Issues of Interest:


January, 2013 - No meeting due to travel schedules.  




Condo Development Very Near Loosely Calibrated Floodplain


Floodplain in Green, Floodway in Blue (City online GIS)

Proposed Development on Right (Alex de Parry)

  • A recent proposed Condo development on Liberty (318) near the railroad tracks (at the current drive thru car wash site) is yet another example of development that needs a more reliable floodplain map as the proposal with a site that is just in and right up against the floodplain and floodway with parking in the lower level.

  • Without a reliable map it is hard to say if this site will have flooding problems or block flows causing more flooding in the Old West Side in a very large rain event.

  • More of these types of developments will be coming to council for approval as the floodplain area is considered by some as an underdeveloped part of the city.

  • We have heard from developers, planners, consultant's hydrologists, as recently as last month at a city public meeting on the Rail Road Berm Under Passage Proposal that the floodplain map is either 'not reliable' or 'very loosely calibrated'.

  • The Fox Awning apartment building on S Main St., just starting construction, is another site very close to the drawn floodplain with parking below and underground the building. It is about just 2' above the drawn floodplain at its lowest point to the north may be much closer in a meaningful map revision.

  • Additionally Climate Change's more intense rain events for our area have not been addressed in the new floodplain maps.


MSU  Michigan State University Extension Supports Porous Pavement for Use in Michigan

  • A recent publication has recommendations for its use in Michigan as a low-impact design.

  • 'Porous pavement: A not-so-new low-impact design technique'

  • 'That childhood saying “when it rains, it pours” may be getting an update to “when it rains, it’s porous.” Using low-impact design techniques can reduce stormwater runoff and protect local water resources.

  • According to Michigan State University Extension, some benefits of using porous pavement in developed areas are reduced run off into local waterways, increased base flows of waterways, less pollution of local water resources, increased groundwater recharge, reduced flooding and less land needed for detention ponds.

  • The initial cost of porous pavement is usually higher than traditional asphalt but when the cost of land for detention ponds needed in traditional pavement is factored in, porous pavement can be significantly less. Longevity of porous pavement when properly constructed and maintained can be twenty years or more.'

  • (Bold by us)

  • Link to MSUE site

  • For parking lots and roadways in the overtaxed Allen's Creek watershed it would be a great improvement over conventional pavement.

  • Forest Ave one of the new streets getting porous pavement now in Ann Arbor's ACW as part of a Green Streets effort.





Current Watershed Issues of Interest:


January, 2013 - No meeting due to travel schedules.  




Condo Development Very Near Loosely Calibrated Floodplain


Floodplain in Green, Floodway in Blue (City online GIS)

Proposed Development on Right (Alex de Parry)

  • A recent proposed Condo development on Liberty (318) near the railroad tracks (at the current drive thru car wash site) is yet another example of development that needs a more reliable floodplain map as the proposal with a site that is just in and right up against the floodplain and floodway with parking in the lower level.

  • Without a reliable map it is hard to say if this site will have flooding problems or block flows causing more flooding in the Old West Side in a very large rain event.

  • More of these types of developments will be coming to council for approval as the floodplain area is considered by some as an underdeveloped part of the city.

  • We have heard from developers, planners, consultant's hydrologists, as recently as last month at a city public meeting on the Rail Road Berm Under Passage Proposal that the floodplain map is either 'not reliable' or 'very loosely calibrated'.

  • The Fox Awning apartment building on S Main St., just starting construction, is another site very close to the drawn floodplain with parking below and underground the building. It is about just 2' above the drawn floodplain at its lowest point to the north may be much closer in a meaningful map revision.

  • Additionally Climate Change's more intense rain events for our area have not been addressed in the new floodplain maps.


MSU  Michigan State University Extension Supports Porous Pavement for Use in Michigan

  • A recent publication has recommendations for its use in Michigan as a low-impact design.

  • 'Porous pavement: A not-so-new low-impact design technique'

  • 'That childhood saying “when it rains, it pours” may be getting an update to “when it rains, it’s porous.” Using low-impact design techniques can reduce stormwater runoff and protect local water resources.

  • According to Michigan State University Extension, some benefits of using porous pavement in developed areas are reduced run off into local waterways, increased base flows of waterways, less pollution of local water resources, increased groundwater recharge, reduced flooding and less land needed for detention ponds.

  • The initial cost of porous pavement is usually higher than traditional asphalt but when the cost of land for detention ponds needed in traditional pavement is factored in, porous pavement can be significantly less. Longevity of porous pavement when properly constructed and maintained can be twenty years or more.'

  • (Bold by us)

  • Link to MSUE site

  • For parking lots and roadways in the overtaxed Allen's Creek watershed it would be a great improvement over conventional pavement.

  • Forest Ave one of the new streets getting porous pavement now in Ann Arbor's ACW as part of a Green Streets effort.






Current Watershed Issues of Interest:


October, 2013 - No meeting due to conflict with OWS Meeting Fall Forum


Planning in the Allen's Creek Watershed Lacking Meaningful Protection


Youtube Video, astinus12, Aug 2010

  • Past and current planning for the watershed is lacking in meaningful protection for residents and businesses.

  • The recent Wally Meeting the past week showed potential train station in a location that is surrounded by the mapped floodway at Liberty and the tracks.  A meaningful watershed study would find this location is in the floodplain if not floodway.

  • The proposed planning for the North Main Yard has ignored staff and ACWG comments about the unreliable nature of the floodplain maps. A city staffer clearly commented at a North Main Taskforce tour that the maps are 'very loosely calibrated'. They yet went on recently to propose conversion of an existing building in the mapped floodplain and a corner in the floodway for potential development. A meaningful floodplain/floodway map, one could argue, would show a large part of the building in great danger in the floodway. Other Michigan communities have made Greenways out of floodplains with great success and safer planning.

  • Just some recent costly planning failures that would have been avoided:

    • North Main 39 Unit Affordable Housing - recent loss of about 30 affordable housing units to a proposed affordable housing development (that replaced a failed condo development) that was scraped when a new floodplain map came out showing the plan would not be legal as it was in the floodway. Six of the existing homes on the site were taken down due to neglect.

    • New Condos on Montgomery Ave on the west side recently built in a very flood prone area now experiencing flooding.

    • Recently completed office building on Depot St. on stilts in the floodway that has had several events of parking lot flooding in recent years with loss of flooded cars parked under the building. With owners trying to drive cars in the floodwater in an attempt to save them.

    • Initial Homeless Shelter plan scraped costing ~$1M due to plans had it in the floodway, not allowed.

    • The West Park stormwater project of 2012 at a cost of $2.2M (mostly federal funds) was ‘blown out’ within one year in a mid-sized rain event (1.6”). After this event an additional $1.2M was spend to partially retrofitting the project.


Floodplain/Floodway Insurance Skyrocketing for Americans - Properties Lose Value


New York Times

October 12, 2013

  • From a recent New York Times article: 'Cost of Flood Insurance Rises, Along With Worries'

  • 'Sharp increases in federal flood insurance rates are distressing coastal homeowners from Hawaii to New England and are starting to hurt property values and housing sales in areas just beginning to recover from the recession, according to residents and legislators.'

  • 'In recent weeks, the hefty flood insurance rate increases brought about by a 2012 law have stoked widespread alarm and uncertainty...'

  • 'The law, officially known as the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, is being rolled out in stages' starting in the northeast.

  • Some facing a 10x (from $800 to $8,500) increase in flood insurance rates from previous 2011 if they bought property after July 6, 2012.

  • Ann Arbor needs to move to reduce the floodplain with economically and environmentally proven methods to deal with fresh water runoff (stormwater) at the source, not the old conventional wasteful way of sending it down larger pipes it to your neighbor.

  • The new Green Streets effort in Ann Arbor is a very good example of 'less cost - more effective' management that will make a very important difference in the size of the floodplain. This could change the size of the floodplain very quickly. More efforts like this are needed.

  • '  “What are they going to do?” he asked of those around him who could neither afford the new rates nor find someone willing to buy their homes. “Everybody’s just going to turn their keys in?” '

  • The effect on the west side of Ann Arbor could be not good with 100's of homes and businesses in and around the floodplain, and with the effects of climate change on Michigan planning is getting even more risky not less.



Washtenaw County Water Resources Upper Malletts Creek Study



  • In response to major flooding in this area form the March 15, 2012 storm, 5-6" rain (NOAA NEXRAD estimate) event, plans are being drafted to try to avert more flooding. Unfortunately some of these homes were permitted and built in old creek beds that could make mitigation very expensive and difficult for some.

  • From the announcement:

  • 'We are nearing the completion of the Upper Creek Stormwater Conveyance Study. Please join us for a review and discussion of the recommendations report that will go to City Council early next year.

  • Upper Malletts Stormwater Conveyance Study:

Draft Report Review

Wednesday November 13

6:30 to 8 PM

Lawton School Cafeteria

  • This will be a draft. Comments and amendments will be sought and encouraged. We expect to have a draft report up on our website for your review by November 6th. Hard copies can be reviewed any time after that at my office.'

  • Contact: Harry Sheehan - Environmental Manager, Washtenaw County Water Resources Offices  (734) 222-6851

  • sheehanh@ewashtenaw.org



Ann Arbor Elections November 5th



Elections Nov. 5th, vote for candidates with proven strong environmental and watershed support. Recent changes on city council have greatly changed the watershed management outlook in Ann Arbor for the better:




Proposed Agenda

September 19, 2013


Ann Arbor Stormwater Fee in Jeopardy?


  • A MI court of appeals ruled in August that the Jackson, MI, stormwater utility fee (SWU) is an illegal tax. Earlier this month in a published report the city has said it will not appeal this ruling. It is not clear it will refund the fees collected but it said it will curtail some city services related to reducing pollution flowing to the Grand River that were paid for with the 'stormwater fee' such as leaf pickup and street sweeping.

  • From a recent StormWater.Org postings:

  • 'This is bad news for the utility, of course, as well as for other cities that might be looking to set up their own utilities as a source of revenue.'

  • 'A particular issue in the case of the Jackson utility is Michigan’s Headlee Amendment. Approved in 1978, the amendment limits state and local governments’ ability to collect taxes; among other things, it limits the revenue the state takes in from all sources to a percentage of personal income within the state, and it says local governments cannot add or increase taxes or issue certain bonds without voter approval.'

  • Link to StormWater.Org article.

  • In recent various communications from concerned citizens several issues were brought up regarding the potential loss of Ann Arbor's SWU.

  • Many feel it is a Tax and not a Fee and should not continue.

  • Some of the critical conditions, in red below, were attempted to be dealt with with AA SWU including the case where a homeowner could capture up to a 200 year rain (.5% chance each year) to have the fee waved as stated in city sponsored public meetings.

In one communication it was noted that the Jackson court decision said this:


"One of the distinguishing factors of a tax is that it is compulsory by law, “whereas payments of user fees are only compulsory for those who use the service, have the ability to choose how much of the service to use, and whether to use it at all.” Headlee Blue Ribbon Commission Report, supra, § 5, p 29. The charge in the present case is effectively compulsory. The property owner has no choice whether to use the service and is unable to control the extent to which the service is used. The dissent suggests that property owners can control the amount of the fee they pay by building less on their property. However, we do not find that this is a legitimate method for controlling the amount of the fee because it is tantamount to requiring property owners to relinquish their rights of ownership to their property by declining to build on the property. [Bolt, 459 Mich at 167-168 (footnote omitted).]"

  • Some have also said that it would be very hard to calculate the 200 year rain runoff amount off their property.

  • The use of the SWU for non-stormwater related city activities is also been noted a reason for removal of the SWU.

  • Since we started getting a stormwater fee in the early 90's for our house it has gone up over a 1,000% without, I would say, a commensurate improvement in stormwater management.

  • Issues the city needs to address to maintain this funding source or consider going to the community and asking for a tax to replace it.



Ann Arbor Green Streets City Wide Proposal


Ann Arbor's Easy Street

  • Green Streets city wide Proposal is planning to be presented to the Environmental Commission for support and presented to city council soon thereafter.

  • Meetings with Green Streets participants and city staff showed strong support from city staff (they have already planned and installed many Green Streets in recent years with other in the planning stages).

  • One staffer commented about the very encouraging results from a city study of the effects of Easy Streets porous pavers in the parking areas of the street and rain gardens' effect on large reductions in stormwater flows and pollution reaching the river.

  • Green Streets are being described in many communities as very successful and cost effective for urban areas.

  • Green Streets efforts could have very significant effects on the urban stormwater problems facing Ann Arbor, cost less than conventional street construction and result in large reductions in floodplain areas in the Allen's Creek watershed.

  • The Green Streets effort, as part of the Water subcommittee of the Environmental Commission and city staff, is planning for meetings stake holders in the coming months to discuss the revised specifications and plans for Green Streets designs and costs.

  • Questions - Jennifer E. Lawson, CSM; Water Quality Manager City Of AA www.a2gov.org ; 734.794.6430 x43735



City of Ann Arbor’s Stormwater Model Calibration Project - Stormwater Advisory Group (SWAG)



  • Initial reports are that during the summer several rain event occurred that provided useful data for modeling. Data collection has gone better than past efforts and also now include overland flow.

  • This member of the ACWG was the only citizen in attendance at the last meeting which has a portion of the funding to involve citizen participation.

  • Staff did ask to obtain the NEXRAD storm rainfall total estimates for 3-15-12 in SW AA, of 5-6" in about an hour, from the ACWG for reference. The NEXRAD would indicate the largest rainfall on record in 24 hrs for Ann Arbor and is consistent with Climate Change predictions for Michigan.

  • Reports and photos of flooding (past or present) can be directed to staff to aid in watershed modeling send to stormmodel@a2gov.org.

  • Questions - Jennifer E. Lawson, CSM; Water Quality Manager City Of AA www.a2gov.org ; 734.794.6430 x43735

  • See the website for more details on Stormwater Model Calibration and Analysis Project




Glendale Street Neighbors Conduct Local Flooding Survey in Response to Other Neighborhood Flooding and Nearby Development Proposal with Survey Results Showing Existing Flooding Problems

  • It has been learned from some neighbors that in 1968 a out of court settlement occurred between flooded home owners in this area after lawsuit by neighbors due to flooding from the recently built Hillside Terrace, just up the hill adjacent to the proposed development.

  • Home owners were paid for damages from flooding and it was said by the city that actions would be taken to stop the flooding from the new construction.

  • Results of a recent door to door survey is that the area is experiencing flooding problems in homes, yards and streets.

  • Details of the results indicate over half of the homes questioned had some flooding issues. 12 - 15 had sewage flooding in basements.

  • The city has come to TV the sewer lines and removed some tree roots from some in an effort to mitigate the existing flooding.

  • The developer has redesigned the plans several times in response to neighbors and city staff concerns, and has not submitted new plans for evaluation.

  • The neighbors are concerned that new development may exacerbate the flooding issues facing the neighborhood

  • Also of concern also is that any additional stormwater flows from the development will go to West Park area where extensive flooding occurred in the summer of 2012.

  • This small survey by residents show a great lack of information on flooding that is an unacceptable condition for meaningful city planning in this watershed.

  • A meeting to discuss area flooding and development concerns between residents and city staff is planned for early October.



Gelman/Pall Contamination Issues Environmental Cleanup Regulations, City Finally Takes a Small Step


  • EPA has been proposing introducing Vapor intrusion regulations in pollution cleanup programs.

  • Vapor intrusion generally occurs when there is a migration of volatile chemicals from contaminated groundwater or soil into an overlying building. 1, 4 Dioxane is a volatile chemical.

  • EPA has made substantial progress during the past year in preparing its final guidances for the vapor intrusion pathway. EPA has extensively engaged stakeholders and considered extensive and substantive public comments received in 2011 and 2012. Additionally EPA made available external review drafts of the guidance documents for public input. EPA is working to complete its work expeditiously and issue final subsurface vapor intrusion guidances so that it can be applied in forthcoming decisions.

  • The 1, 4 Dioxane ground and ground water contamination could come under these guidelines as the compound flows under the city toward the river.

  • The ACWG has pushed for many years the evaluation of contaminated ground water getting into the Allen's Creek or homeowners basements closer to the Huron River with its high groundwater levels, this has only recently been taken more seriously by government officials as flows migrate through the city. Infiltration into building would violate even the very weak MI Part 201 environmental cleanup standards. These issues are not addressed in the current court ordered cleanup plan and have not been considered.

  • City Council has passed a resolution in support of a cleanup and avoidance of flows to the Barton Pond, about 90% of the city's drinking water source. Unfortunately the resolution was not presented for review to the only Ann Arbor resident members of Coalition for Action on Remediation of Dioxane (CARD), or our 5th Ward Council Mike Anglin member and cosigner of our ATSDR petition. The resolution had errors and was not a very strong resolution.

  • Some on council commented we may need to get access to Detroit's drinking water supply, although it is reported over the past years that this drinking water source is over taxed in its current state.

  • EPA has changed the toxic levels for the compound to a much lower level. Down to .35 ppb in drinking water for 1 in 1M exposure. The state had done nothing to adjust exposure levels downward as they should in response to EPA changes. MI has one of the highest levels in the country at cleanup to 85 ppb and 2,800 ppb to direct vent to river down stream of any drinking water intakes. The prohibition zone in the city is allowed to get to 2,800 ppb in groundwater as it flows thru town to the river. California has a Notification Level of 1 ppb drinking water standard.

  • There is some effort by some in the area to sponsor a meeting in Lansing to discuss Ann Arbor's plight to state legislators.

  • CARD is working on a petition to be in attendance in an effort by Pall Life Sciences to reduce the toxic status of the compound in presentations to MDEQ. They will contend the the compound is a so called 'threshold carcinogen' and exposure levels should be raised not lowered. EPA has no regulations or recognize 'threshold carcinogen'. This was also tried in the past by Gelman Co and did not succeed.

  • Due to government officials lack of due diligence US-EPS Superfund status for this contamination is now becoming a stronger possibility.

  • As politicians face re-election, including Governor Snyder who calls his home town Ann Arbor, this issue may and should, loom large.



Current Watershed Issues of Interest:


August, 2013 - no meeting due to travel schedules




312 Glendale Proposed Development and Flooding Issues

  • Results of the door to door survey is that the area is experiencing flooding problems in homes, yards and streets.

  • Over half the homes surveyed in a 4 block area are experiencing water issues from excess rain water and sewage flows into the neighborhood.

  • It has been learned by neighbors doing the survey that in 1967 neighbors filed a class action suit against the city and developers of the recently finished Hillside Terrace Retirement home just up stream of them, just beyond the proposed development, for increased home flooding due to the new development.

    • The homeowners settled out of court and were awarded damages and funds to mitigate flooding of their neighborhoods.

  • Neighbors assert that new development will cause more flooding and that the storm and sanitary sewers are 'commingled' causing the mix to flood basements and, may be flooding yards and streets.

  • The neighbors and the ACWG is asking for a watershed study to insure the safety and well-fair of the community before upstream development can be allowed.

  • Of concern also is that any additional stormwater flows from the development will go to West Park area where extensive flooding occurred last summer in a 1.6 inch rain.



Jackson MI Case Overrules Stormwater Utility Fees - Ruled Illegal Tax


  • From a recent StormWater.Org postings:

  • 'A court of appeals last week ruled that the Jackson, MI, stormwater utility fee is an illegal tax. This is bad news for the utility, of course, as well as for other cities that might be looking to set up their own utilities as a source of revenue.'

  • 'A particular issue in the case of the Jackson utility is Michigan’s Headlee Amendment. Approved in 1978, the amendment limits state and local governments’ ability to collect taxes; among other things, it limits the revenue the state takes in from all sources to a percentage of personal income within the state, and it says local governments cannot add or increase taxes or issue certain bonds without voter approval.'

  • 'The city has not yet said whether it will appeal the ruling.'

  • With Ann Arbor using stormwater fees to pay for Public Art at a cost of almost $1M in the Allen's Creek watershed while calming there are no funds to do a watershed study, and other non-stormwater uses, it begs the question of how these funds are managed and are we endangering this important fund.

  • Link to StormWater.Org article.


I94 Repaving this Summer is Lost Opportunity to Reduce Flood, Pollution and Noise, Increase Safety and Save Money


University of California Pavement Research Center (UCPRC) has recently

completed laboratory and modeling investigations to evaluate the structural and hydraulic

performance of permeable pavement as highway shoulders that can be subject to heavy loads.


  • The ACWG has approached MDOT and local officials to encourage the use of Porous Pavements on planned repaving of I94 this summer. The repaving with conventional pavement is occurring now.

  • Major flooding and pollution loading occurs just down stream of this western section of I94 in the Lawton (Malletts Creek) and Allen's Creek areas.

  • This section of I94 has one of the largest dangerous curves on the length of the I94 highway.

  • Either full depth or friction course porous pavement could have greatly helped the city and state to reduce accident rates, reduce highway noise, save money, reduce pollution and flood hazard and eliminate the need for ugly sound walls.

  • Friction course porous pavement is being widely used on highways now and full course porous pavement on highways is gaining support.

Minnesota DOT Study:

  • The Minnesota Department of Transportation has been developing a design for Porous Highway for the last 5 years.

  • Dr. Bernard Izevbekhai P.E., PhD is a Concrete Research Engineer for MnDOT porous highway is potentially less costly than conventional roadway with many important benefits

    • Semi-trucks have driven over the porous highway 80 times a day for the last 5 years with little or no effect on the roadway.

    • 20% of the road construction is to handle water runoff, not including additional costs for added upkeep and replacement

    • "The advantage of that lies in the fact that we can save quite an astronomical percentage of taxpayer money in the fact that we don't need to build hydraulic structures. We don't need to build culverts because the water finds its way directly into the ground."

    • "Dr. Izevbekhai says Minnesota roads must be able to withstand harsh conditions and plowing, and that the pervious pavement appears durable, 'This has been plowed continuously, just like we would do on a local road. It has withstood plowing.' "

  • Porous Highway Benefits include: no runoff greatly reducing flood hazard and pollution loading, no hydroplaning or road spray greatly reducing crash and death rates, better traction without expensive road grooving, up to 70% less noise (no expensive noise walls), 75% less salt and less plowing, no heat island effect, no heat shock to waterways.

  • Link to MnDOT Story



Current Watershed Issues of Interest:


July, 2013 - No meeting due to vacation schedules



Ann Arbor Green Streets - Forest Ave Green Streets Funding Passed


Green Streets - US EPA

  • Forest Ave will be getting a Rock Bed below it for stormwater infiltration to reduce or eliminate runoff and reduce or eliminate pollution flowing off the roadway into the Huron River. Work will be from South Univ. Ave to Hill St. this summer.

  • Green Streets have the potential to have extremely large reductions in stormwater flows, pollution loading to the Huron River and may actually cost less than conventional road construction, and if used on enough streets could reduce the size of Ann Arbor's floodplains.

  • It is hoped that the U of M would be interested in contributing to this type of effort as more work is done in the Main Campus area, with all the very high levels of almost totally unmitigated imperiousness and rain water runoff that exists on the U of M Main Campus.

  • The Green Streets effort, as part of the Water subcommittee of the Environmental Commission and city staff, is planning for meetings with city staff and stake holders in the coming months to discuss the revised specifications and plans for Green Streets designs and costs.

  • Questions - Jennifer E. Lawson, CSM; Water Quality Manager City Of AA www.a2gov.org ; 734.794.6430 x43735


Sylvan Ave Porous Pavement Accidentally Sanded Last Winter Gets Vacuumed

  • Sylvan Ave was paved with porous pavement which has been under study.

  • It was found not to be performing well this spring

  • Further investigation showed it was sanded accidentally by city road crews.

  • The street was recently vacuumed by a contractor with special equipment and this may bring back much of the function of the street as was that case for the Michigan Concrete Association (MCA) Director in comments made to the ACWG at a porous demonstration project at the MCA in Lansing a few years back

  • Discussion by staff on how to prevent this - inexpensive signage and blue colored curbing are options

  • Ann Arbor has been a leader in working on street construction to reduce flood hazard and pollution loading to the Huron River and Lake Erie.


Ann Arbor Dumps 10,000 Gallons of Raw Sewage into the Huron River


Huron River Ann Arbor

  • On June 27 the city sewage treatment plant dumped 10K gallons of raw sewage (Sanitary Sewer Overflow - SSO) into the Huron River due to high flows to the plant related to a large rain event.

  • Some minor filtering of the sewage did occur with netting.

  • This rain event was not a 1% chance (100 year) rain event. It was about 2.6" rain, about half of a 100 year rain.

  • During large rain events stormwater gets into sanitary sewers from sewer pipe leakage and footer drains flow into the sanitary sewer.

  • City needs to work on better notification for these types of events. We were told about it in a chance encounter with CM Jane Lumm, the next day, who expressed concern and had questions relating to and how we can prevent these SSO's and send us the link to the city notice of the SSO.

  • This is another reason to reduce stormwater flows by dealing more with the water at the source.

    • The ACWG has pushed for and supported the Footer Disconnect Program, Rain Garden and Bioswale installations, Rain Barrel Use, Green Streets, Porous Pavements, reductions in impervious surfaces including fewer and smaller street lanes, green roofs, and other cost effective technologies over the past years


MnDOT Tests Porous Highway Design with Very Good Early Results


Test Section of 6 Lane Full Depth Porous Mall Road, Portland ME

  • The Minnesota Department of Transportation has been developing a design for Porous Highway for the last 5 years.

  • Dr. Bernard Izevbekhai is a Concrete Research Engineer for MnDOT porous highway is potentially less costly than conventional roadway with many important benefits

    • Semi-trucks have driven over the porous highway 80 times a day for the last 5 years with little or no effect on the roadway.

    • 20% of the road construction is to handle water runoff, not including additional costs for added upkeep and replacement

    • "The advantage of that lies in the fact that we can save quite an astronomical percentage of taxpayer money in the fact that we don't need to build hydrolic structures. We don't need to build culverts because the water finds its way directly into the ground."

    • "Dr. Izevbekhai says Minnesota roads must be able to withstand harsh conditions and plowing, and that the pervious pavement appears durable, 'This has been plowed continuously, just like we would do on a local road. It has withstood plowing.' "

  • Porous Highway Benefits include: no runoff reducing flood hazard and pollution, no hydroplaning or road spray, better traction without expensive road grooving, up to 70% less noise (no expensive noise walls), 75% less salt and less plowing, no heat island effect, no heat shock to waterways.

  • Some have tested highways with porous top layer friction course road with full depth porous shoulders with similar results.

  • They also have a porous roadway currently on Shore View Rd. in the St. Paul area and it is performing well.

  • Link to MnDOT Story



Current Watershed Issues of Interest:


June, 2013 - No meeting due to vacation and travel schedules.



Ann Arbor Green Streets - Madison Street, Miller Ave. Work this Spring Summer


4th Ave Getting Large Rock Bed Installed under the Street in the Middle of June (ACWG)


  • Green Streets Proposal will be presented to staff and then a public meeting with stakeholder in the next 3 months.

  • 4th Ave is currently under construction as a Green Street design

    • It will have a rock bed below the street to capture and infiltrate

    • All rain fall will be infiltrated into the ground under the street, it is expected that this design will capture and filter all rain water on the street and some adjacent surfaces.

    • This road construction was put on hold for a year as staff wanted to take advantage of the sandy soils in the downtown to reduce runoff and pollution to the Huron River.

  • Plans are for similar work on Forest.

  • Some Streets already involved in this effort: Liberty, Madison, Stadium Bvld, Miller Ave, Forest, Sylvan Ave, 4th Ave, Willard, Dexter Ave, and Old YMCA Parking Lot.

  • Questions - Jennifer E. Lawson, CSM; Water Quality Manager City Of AA www.a2gov.org ; 734.794.6430 x43735



Public Hearing: Potential Stormwater Projects


  &     County Water Resources Office



  • City and County Water Resources Office (formally County Drain Office) will be submitting proposals for stormwater mitigation projects to the State Revolving Fund (SRF) office for low interest loan and grants.

  • SRF funds have been granted after the loan funds were awarded to the city in past stormwater projects

  • Notice from the Water Resources Commissioner and City:

    • 'Prior to implementing certain projects to improve stormwater conveyance and reduce pollution to the Huron River, the City and County collaboratively establish the basis for these projects with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The State Revolving Fund Project Plan documents the need, and allows projects to be considered for grant and loan funding.

    • The SRF Project Plan will be submitted to the MDEQ shortly. But before that happens, the City and County will be jointly holding a Public Meeting to present the details, benefits and costs. You are invited to attend this brief presentation and open discussion. Public comments are welcome and will become part of the process of project selection.'

  • SRF Project Plan Public Hearing

Date:                     June 24th

Time:                    6:30 - 8 PM

Location:             NEW Center

1100 N. Main Street, 2nd floor




Rewrite of Michigan Part 201 Environmental Cleanup Regulations


  • ACWG, Environmental Commissioner member and UM SPH Environmental Toxicology Professor Rita Loch Caruso has been asked, with 2 other local environmental scientist, to serve on a Review Board for the Michigan Part 210 Environmental Cleanup Regulations.

  • Many industry representatives are on the board.

  • This rewrite is way overdue, currently by one year (the state was given an extension) and expires in Dec. 2013, and the rewrite may not get finished and passed by congress in time, causing the standards to fall into a state of 'Limbo' (2014 may have no standards for Michigan?!).

  • Part 201 has not been protective of the state in past years

  • The main effect of Part 201 has been to require isolation of environmental contamination

  • The 1, 4 Dioxane ground and ground water contamination is a good example of its failure.

    • Instead of a meaningful cleanup of the pollution from Gelman Sciences (now owned by Pall Life Sciences) in the 1970-80's a Prohibition Zone (PZ) was created to prevent wells from accessing the contamination as it flows through the city to the Huron River at up to 2,800 ppb.

    • The PZ has had to be expanded recently and new well data indicate it may need to expanded again.

    • 2 Independent groundwater flow analysis indicate a possibility that flows will go toward Barton Pond, the drinking water source for Ann Arbor.

    • The EPA has reevaluated this contaminate in recent years and has been proposing the lowering of its allowable level of exposure and may require cleanup to the 3 PPB level not Michigan very high 85 ppb for drinking water or 2,800 ppb flows to the river.

  • The ACWG has pushed for many years the evaluation of contaminated ground water getting into the Allen's Creek or home owners basements closer to the Huron River with its high groundwater levels, this has only recently been taken more seriously by government officials as flows migrate through the city. This would violate even the very weak Part 201 standards. These issues are not addressed in the current court ordered cleanup plan and have not been considered.

  • A Public Hearing will occur for the rewrite of Part 201 in the coming months before it goes to the state congress.



Glendale Neighbors Conduct Local Flooding Survey in Response to Other Neighborhood Flooding and Nearby Development Proposal with Results Showing Existing Flooding Problems

  • Results of the door to door survey is that the area is experiencing flooding problems in homes, yards and streets.

  • Over half the homes surveyed in a 4 block area are experiencing water issues from excess rain water and sewage flows into the neighborhood.

  • Details of the results are still being evaluated.

  • The neighbors are concerned that a new development upstream on Glendale Street may exacerbate the flooding issues facing the neighborhood.

  • Detail list of homes with basement, yard and street and sewage flooding found in the survey effort are available and have been given to city staff.

  • Of concern also is that any additional stormwater flows from the development will go to West Park area where extensive flooding occurred last summer.



Sylvan Ave Porous Pavement Accidentally Sanded Last Winter by the City which has Cause it to Clog


Sylvan Ave

  • Sylvan Ave was paved with porous pavement which has been under study.

  • It was found not to be performing well this spring

  • Further investigation showed it was sanded accidentally by city road crews.

  • Vacuuming the street may bring back much of the function of the street as was that case for the Michigan Concrete Association (MCA) Director in comments made to the ACWG at a porous demonstration project at the MCA in Lansing a few years back.

  • City looking to bring in special street vacuum contractor.

  • Discussion by staff on how to prevent this - signage and colored curbing are options


Downtown Greenway in the Allen's Creek Floodway/Floodplain Gets First Direct Funding

acgreenwayconservancy.org

  • After many years of efforts by many groups and individuals the city has issued its first Resolution of Funding for the Allen('s) Creek Greenway Park.

  • The ACWG has been championing a Greenway since around 1998 when we were told by our council member that the city properties in the floodway were being sold by council in the next 2 years for development.

  • It now seems the Greenway will be started on the city owned properties at 721 N. Main, 415 Washington and First and William Parking Lot.

  • Federal Flood Hazard Mitigation funds will be awarded to the city to remove two buildings in the floodway at 721 N. Main to make room for a park.

  • The plans currently are for open space and alternative transportation elements.

  • Unfortunately because of years of delay additional Federal Flood Hazard Mitigation, funds that could have been used to greatly help fund this effort, will no longer be available after this year.

  • My home town near Cincinnati, Anderson Tws., has had received federal awards of over a Million Dollars for such work over the last 8 years.

  • Additional grant funds are being applied for by the city for the conversion to a park.

  • Visit http://www.acgreenwayconservancy.org/ for information on becoming a member and supporting the Greenway, and contact the Mayor and Council.

  • Link to AA.Com Article




Proposed Agenda


May 16, 2013



Ann Arbor Green Streets - 4th Street Reconstruction Delayed a Year to Make it a Green Street, to be Rebuilt this Spring


Green Streets Philadelphia -PhillyWatersheds.Org

  • Reconstruction of South Fourth Avenue was delayed a year to create a design that would take advantage of the 'Sand Dome' under the downtown.

  • Ann Arbor's downtown, as well as other areas, have a very high infiltration potential with a large 'Sand Dome' below the city.

  • City staff worked hard to design this reconstruction to have a major impact on the watershed and try new techniques to reduce pollution and flood hazard, and save costs over convention reconstruction techniques.

  • With the high level of infiltration possible in the downtown this is a logical and cost effective manner to greatly reduce the flood and pollution loading to the Allen's Creek Watershed and the Huron River.

  • The reconstruction could have up to 100% infiltration of fresh water rain runoff (stormwater) and potentially cost less than conventional reconstruction.

  • Roadways with appropriate soils could have the full length with large stone infiltration beds when rebuilt. If done these roadways could capture all the runoff and runoff for adjacent road intersections and sidewalks. This could have a very large impact on flood hazard mitigation and pollution reductions to the Huron River and Lake Erie (see NYT article below).

  • A very similar design with Porous Pavement would have additional benefits.

    • Porous Pavements have been tried in Ann Arbor on several streets (Forest, Sylvan, Willard) as well on parking lots

    • Some have questioned the value of Porous Pavement with the trouble on Sylvan with much reduced infiltration rates over the past year. The city is investigating this. It has been said that Sylvan may have been accidentally sanded in the winter by plowing crews.

    • If needed a special vac could be hired to vacuum the road which should bring it back to near 100% function according to comments by the Michigan Concrete Assoc.

    • Some discussion on the need for signage and possible colored concrete curbs (blue) to indicate porous pavement to city and other road workers.

  • The Green Streets effort, as part of the Water subcommittee of the Environmental Commission and city staff, is planning for meetings with city staff and stake holders in the coming months to discuss the revised specifications and plans for Green Streets designs and costs.

  • Questions - Jennifer E. Lawson, CSM; Water Quality Manager City Of AA www.a2gov.org ; 734.794.6430 x43735


Extensive Neighborhood Flooding Found - Glendale Neighbors Conduct Local Flooding Survey in Response to Other Neighborhood Flooding and Nearby Development Proposal


Street Flooding near Proposed Development Area (Glendale Neighborhood Group)



  • Results of the resident lead door to door survey is that the area is experiencing flooding problems in homes, yards and streets.

  • Details of the results are alarming for about a 3 block area:

    • 29 homes affected by water issues

    • 10 homes with some sewage flooding in basements

    • 23 homes with some stormwater flooding in basements

    • Results still coming in

  • These results caused city staff to question the data collected, and ask for more detailed data.

  • It would seem clear this level of flooding whether it is somewhat less than reported is sill of great significance.

  • The neighbors are concerned that new development may exacerbate the flooding issues facing the neighborhood.

  • Of concern also is that any additional stormwater flows from the development will go to West Park area where extensive flooding occurred last summer.

  • Again Allen's Creek Watershed residents are asking for a meaningful watershed study to determine the extent and severity of problems facing the community, and guide planning for rehabilitation of the watershed and safe development.

  • Map of the flooding issues found is available



North Main Taskforce Meeting to Discuss City Yard/Greenway Options

  • PUBLIC MEETING NOTICE OF THE CITY ANN ARBOR NORTH MAIN VISION TASK FORCE

  • Larcom Building (City Hall), Basement Conference Rooms A-B

  • 301 East Huron, Ann Arbor

  • Wednesday, May 29, 2013, 5 - 7 p.m

  • The meeting will discuss, in part, the options for use of the city Yard at 721 N. Main

  • The floodway and floodplain maps for this site are clearly non-instructive as they are 'very loosely based on the 1968 flood'; much has changed in 45 years including large increase in impervious area in the Allen's Creek watershed.

  • A Greenway has been proposed and should be supported to improve floodplain management, reduce flood hazard, increase non-motorize transportation, improve access to Huron River Parks and Trails

  • An access point to the Huron River is not yet determined and is critical to the plan begin most effective.

  • The one building left at the site not currently scheduled for removal has corners of it in the drawn floodway and may be much more in the floodway with a meaningful watershed map. Buildings in floodways are very dangerous and in many cases do not survive a major flood intact. Much of it is in the drawn floodplain.

  • Some have proposed an ill-advised plan to develop the non-floodway (in the floodplain) areas of the site for residential or commercial use, with the current maps it would be hard to say where the floodplain is on this site at the bottom of this well overtaxed watershed.

  • Link to Taskforce site


Algae Blooms Cover 1/4 of Lake Erie in Recent Years - The New York Times Cover Story


 

NYT.COM  -  March 15, 2013

  • "Lake Erie is sick. A thick and growing coat of toxic algae appears each summer, so vast that in 2011 it covered a sixth of its waters, contributing to an expanding dead zone on its bottom, reducing fish populations, fouling beaches and crippling a tourism industry that generates more than $10 billion in revenue annually."

  • "It is perhaps the greatest peril the lake has faced since the 1960s"

  • 15M people obtain drinking water from Lake Erie.

  • Some have shown that polluted urban runoff of rain water into tributaries of Lake Erie are a major cause of the record breaking effect on the lake. Climate Change related, more intense rain events that are happening now, are also implicated.

  • Increases in recent algae blooms are effecting the other Great Lakes.

  • US EPA has mounted a major effort to address this issue facing millions of resident who depend on the lake as a drinking water source and recreational uses, and the negative effects on the ecology of the lake.

  • Link:  NYT





(*Some agenda items may have been corrected for typos and include follow up updates when posted here.)