Bay ready to start downspout inspections

Contractor hired to test up to 800 properties

Aug. 6, 2013

Whitefish Bay — Whitefish Bay will begin inspecting and possibly dye water testing the downspouts of as many as 800 properties throughout the village in the near future.

Village Administrator Pat DeGrave explained that in order to complete the inspections and testing as efficiently as possible, staff deemed it necessary to hire a contractor for the project. The Village Board on Monday approved awarding a contract to Crispell Snyder for completion of the work, in an amount not to exceed $180,000, including contingency funds.

The project aims to identify which downspouts may be illegally discharging rain water into the sanitary sewer system. The village is targeting properties that were either self-identified as discharging downspouts below grade in a 2011 survey, or identified during a visual sidewalk survey conducted in 2012, according to a memo from village engineering staff.

All of the downspouts identified will be visually inspected. The total number of dye water tests to be completed could change, depending what those visual inspections reveal, also according to the memo.

Dye testing takes longer

Public Works Director Dan Naze said Crispell Snyder will dedicate two staff members to the project for several months. Although they should be able to complete the visual inspections relatively quickly, Naze said, dye water testing of the downspouts will be more time consuming and it is likely that some of the work will be carried over into 2014.

Trustee Tara Serebin wondered whether conducting smoke testing might be faster than dye testing.

However, Naze indicated that dye testing provides more instantaneous results and tends to be less alarming to people than smoke testing.

Visual inspections of downspouts are likely to begin within about two to four weeks, Naze said, pending administrative duties and ensuring access to properties. The inspections and dye testing of properties likely will overlap during the course of the project, with the scope of work to be provided by Crispell Snyder also including necessary notifications to property owners.

Asking for MMSD funds

Naze recommended to the board that the cost of the project be covered with borrowed funds available through the village's sanitary sewer utility. However, trustees urged staff to submit a reimbursement request to the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District for the full cost of the project, with the understanding that the village may only have about $104,100 in MMSD reimbursement funds available to it.

"I'm hopeful that they will pay for at least the $104,000 and maybe the full amount, and that's additional money that we don't have to pay for ourselves out of our own fund… so to me it's worth it," Trustee Jay Miller said.

As dye testing is completed and data starts to come in indicating where water is discharging, disconnections of noncompliant downspouts will be made incrementally as required, DeGrave noted, rather than waiting until the project has been fully completed for all properties. A disconnection could be made within about 10 days of identifying a noncompliant downspout, DeGrave said.



estimated cost for completion of visual inspections and dye water testing for about 800 downspouts throughout the village


estimated cost per property for dye test


estimated cost per property for visual inspection

6 feet

minimum distance that a downspout is required to convey water away from the home or foundation wall, per village ordinance


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