Water & Sewer Upgrades: Cornerstone Village

Information on Water & Sewer Upgrades: Cornerstone Village

As part of its $500 million program to upgrade the city’s aging water and sewer infrastructure, the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department (DWSD) is investing $44.3 million into Cornerstone Village and North Rosedale Park, which follows condition assessments and DWSD’s master plan. The funding for the $500 million capital program leverages the funds DWSD receives through its 40-year lease with the Great Lakes Water Authority. 

Improvements being made in each neighborhood include:

  • Replacement of water mains and fire hydrants.
  • Replacement and lining of city sewer pipes.
  • Replacement of lead service lines with copper pipes where they exist on blocks where water mains are being replaced. While a portion of the service lines are on private property, DWSD is replacing them at its own cost, as long as it has the consent of the property owner or occupant to perform the work on their property.
  • Installation of Green Stormwater Infrastructure projects to reduce street and basement flooding.
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“This is one more way we are investing in our neighborhoods and our residents,” said Mayor Duggan. “Not only are we spending more money on infrastructure improvements, our Civil Rights, Inclusion & Opportunity department will be monitoring these projects to ensure the contractors are hiring at least 51% Detroit residents and contributing to our workforce training fund if they are unable to meet that requirement.”

Through the Executive Order 2016-1, the contractors will have at least 51 percent of the hours worked by Detroit residents on DWSD construction projects. The DWSD Capital Improvement Program Management Organization (CIPMO) has designed a contractor outreach program to engage more Detroit-based contractors and partner with them to hire Detroiters for DWSD work. The office held its second contractor workshop in January of this year.

The approved contractors are Ric-Man Construction of Sterling Heights and LGC Global of Detroit. Ric-Man Construction will execute the water and sewer upgrades in North Rosedale Park, as well as the water upgrades in Cornerstone Village. LGC Global will execute sewer upgrades in Cornerstone Village.

More neighborhoods slated for improvements
DWSD Director Gary Brown said this is the first time in DWSD’s history to plan water and sewer upgrades at the same time by neighborhood, supported by comprehensive data. To date, DWSD has assessed the water and sewer systems in 12 neighborhoods, with the first combined projects starting in Cornerstone Village and North Rosedale Park. Construction will begin this month and continue through December 2021.

As part of the neighborhood approach, 76 miles of water main and 198 miles of sewer were assessed the last two years by DWSD and its contractors.

Additional neighborhood assessments were done by DWSD in Brewster Douglass, Brightmoor, Jefferson Chalmers, Miller Grove, Minock Park, New Center Commons, Piety Hill, Rosedale Park (south), Riverdale and Virginia Park. The results of the assessments are being reviewed and designs are underway for the infrastructure that needs rehabilitation.

“We are leveraging the GLWA lease payment and benefiting from improved operations at DWSD to launch a comprehensive approach to water and sewer upgrades,” said Palencia Mobley, P.E., DWSD deputy director and chief engineer whose team is managing the capital improvement program along with contractor AECOM. “We decided to take a neighborhood-by-neighborhood approach, starting with assessing the water and sewer systems, then designing an upgrade strategy based upon that data, the probability of failure and the consequence of failure in the pipes.”

Improved neighborhood outreach
Since December 2018, DWSD has performed extensive outreach with Cornerstone Village and North Rosedale Park in advance of construction. It has sent three neighborhood-wide mailings, held and participated in at least six community meetings in each neighborhood, and distributed lead service line replacement program packets on the doors of where water main replacement will take place.

In addition to the pre-construction outreach efforts, DWSD will distribute at least three door hanger notifications to each impacted customer, which include temporary service outage notice in advance, e-mail blasts for those who subscribe to notifications, targeted social media updates including on Nextdoor, and on-site outreach throughout the project.

Upon completion of a project on each street in each neighborhood, the contractor will restore the disrupted sidewalks, driveways, yards and fences during the April - October construction season.

Needs assessment establishes priorities
Launched in June 2019, the five-year, $500 million DWSD Capital Improvement Program (CIP) begins to address the need to improve water and sewer systems’ reliability. Previously the department solely used the frequency of water main breaks and water-in-basement complaints to drive the strategy. This led to projects being done across the city without a cohesive plan for a neighborhood. Now, DWSD assesses the condition of the water and sewer infrastructure and develops a plan for rehabilitating those systems, which takes into account other public or private investments to a neighborhood. Factors such as the probability of a failure (e.g., breaks, sinkholes, etc.), as well as the consequence of failure (e.g., near a school or hospital, the risk is higher) are also included to prioritize the capital work strategy.

Based on the condition assessments in Cornerstone Village and North Rosedale Park, only those needed for repair, replacement or lining are included in the two projects. Nearly 54,800 linear feet (approx. 10.4 miles) of water main will be replaced or lined, and more than 71,000 linear feet (approx. 13.5 miles) of sewer collection pipe will be repaired, lined or replaced. Lead service lines will also be replaced.