Thursday, January 31, 2013

Inaccurate reports by Findorff at the Edgewater reconstruction

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Many inspections by a variety of companies, filed on the PermiTrack system run by the City of Madison for self-inspections, are late, missing, inaccurate, or poorly documented.

These errors are so widespread--as to undermine any confidence by citizens that the self-inspection system is working.

Here are a few examples.  Individually they may be small, but together they fostered an attitude of neglect--that led to a sediment spill.

On January 29, there was hard rain, totaling 1.84 inches, with a maximum temperature of 54 F. While unusual, this storm had a precedent.  Anyone planning for this site could see that on Dec. 30, 1884, it had rained 1.62 inches.

Erosion control at the Edgewater reconstruction failed, and sediment was spilled to Lake Mendota.  Photos


At 3:00 pm on Jan 29, I inspected the site from the lakeshore. Pumping from a blue hose (right) had recently finished, indicated by heavy erosion on the slope below the hose, and large amounts of muddy water pooled below on the shore.

Discharge of pumping water without filtration is strictly forbidden. In addition, the erosion control plan specified that the dewatering "discharge will flow over undisturbed areas to the lake." Both rules were ignored.

As soon as they saw us, three Findorff workers coiled up the hose and took it into the hotel.

On Jan 29, the dumpster that should have been used for removing sediment from pumped water was sitting idle, minus any hoses, high above the site.


The photo (right) taken at 2:48 pm by Matt Stadelman, and posted on Jan 30 to the PermiTrack inspection report, is "misleading."  It shows the sediment basin not hooked up to any hoses, and positioned where it would be not be useful.  Yet inspector Stadelman of Findorff certified that dewatering was "Status Active, Condition Correct."

Dewatering was obviously occurring, but the dumpster required to filter the water was not being used.  So the report is "inaccurate."

Substantial amounts of muddy water had escaped beyond the fence into the lake.  This proves the erosion control measures here are not working.


The self-inspection by Matt Stadelman on Jan. 30 doesn't mention any failure.  So the inspection after a storm, intended to show where improvement is needed, didn't serve its intended purpose.

Previous PermiTrack reports were late or misleading:

All the reports prior to 1/30 were filed late by Ryan Williams:
12/18,   1 Day late; Today photos submitted to document compliance were actually taken* 4, 5 & 6 days before the "inspection."
12/28, 18 D late;
1/4,       6 D late;
1/11,  17 D late;
1/25,    3 D late.

There's a pattern of up to three late reports being filed on the same day.  Were these late reports based on any notes, or just made up?

Tim Troester recommended that photos be submitted along with inspections. But so far, only 5 photos have been submitted (and three of those were for the wrong date).

Problems with the initial inspection

Betsy Powers, PE – Senior Engineer, SCS BT Squared, was supposed to perform an inspection after the initial EC installation.  Erosion controls werre installed on or before Dec. 16, yet Powers did not inspect until Dec. 21. So this steep site, right next to the lake, was not certified as protected until 5 days later.  Then when she filed her report, it depended in part on photos supplied to PermiTrack by Findorff, which she thought had been taken on Dec 18, when in fact they were taken* on Dec 12, 13, & 14.

During her inspection, Powers missed a problem--that the silt fence did not extend as far NE along the shore as specified in the drawing.  This left a portion of the steep, disturbed slope unprotected.

This photo (right, 1/29/13) shows the NE end of the silt fence. Here, the steep, disturbed bank was left unprotected.

I'd like to ask Ms. Powers... Did she actually walk the length of the shore, along the silt fence? Or did she "inspect" it from some distant vantage point?  It's important, because this silt fence is the last line of defense--really the only defense--for the lake.

Another gap in the silt fence


On Jan 19, I noticed a gap in the silt fence along the shore, below a place where the bypass stormwater pipe was leaking about a gallon a minute.  This problem was not noted in the report by Ryan Williams on Jan 18, when he certified that the silt fence was "correct."




Street not always swept

The EC plan specifies: "Contractor to continue cleaning sediment tracked onto public roads at the end of each working day."  Ryan Williams always reported sweeping/cleaning "Condition Correct."

Three times after work, I found the pavement outside the entrance quite dirty: Jan 10Jan 16, and Jan 19.
On Jan 11, Williams found "Sweeping/Cleaning Condition: Correct," whereas the evening before (Thursday, right) I found it very dirty.
On Jan 18, Williams reported: "Sweeping/Cleaning Condition: Correct," whereas on the next day (Saturday) I found it dirty.



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*  How do I know the Findorff photos were taken 4-6 days earlier than the PermiTrack report?  I looked at the metadata that's embedded in most digital photos.  

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