City FDD Survey (I): Wet Basements after 26% of Dry-Basement FDDs

The City has released the preliminary results of a survey covering all homes where FDDs have been performed under the mandatory FDDP. The numbers are appalling, including this one: FDDs caused wet basements in 107 of 411 basements that were dry before the owner’s FDD was completed. That is 26%. We’ll discuss that in this post and then cover two other numbers in the next–continued sewage backups in homes with FDDs that had sewage backup problems pre-FDD and survey responses concerning emotional damage from FDDs.

Introduction

As part of the City’s FDDP Effectiveness Study, OHM and Project Innovations, it’s “public engagement” subcontractor, have now concluded a survey of the post-FDD experiences of over 2,300 homes in Ann Arbor over more than 12 years. Here are three particular points from the preliminary results that stand out:

  • Out of all respondents (a total of 411 homes) who reported having no “flooding/seepage/dampness prior to FDD,” 26% reported that they “experienced flooding/seepage/dampness after FDD” (for a total 107 homes).
  • 39.68% of respondents reported an increase in anxiety.
  • 27.64% who experienced sanitary backups prior to FDDs are still experiencing backups.

Given the above, it’s not clear why the City and OHM have not already discontinued any further study of FDDs. Just on the face of even their raw partial data, the FDD procedure is dangerous to people and property and merits a moratorium, not a study about doing more.

Based on the preliminary survey data, it’s looks as if the City’s solution to 200 residential sewage backups before the FDD Ordinance over 12 years ago has been to create 107 wet basements (and counting) with FDD installations. The survey has not been completely tabulated, but we think it’s likely that survey will show more flooding—well over the number of 200 residences in 2001–while the City proposes to do more.

26% Dry-Basement Flooding Rate

a2underwater has questioned the basic plumbing and physics of FDDs in postings at a2underwater.com.  a skepticism you should now share. Though I am not particularly surprised at a high dry-basement flood rate, 26% is off the charts.

OHM has already endorsed the survey results and said to the CAC that it has 99% confidence in the survey results. The survey is intended as a tool for assessing the the wisdom of FDDs in 18,000 more FDDs in pre-1982 one-family homes in the future.

The 26% dry-basement flood rate strongly implies that if the City-required FDD procedures that have already been performed in 1,834 homes were to be repeated under the FDDP in a mere 5,000 of the remaining dry basements in Ann Arbor, 1,300 of those basements would have water damage. We are sure more than 40% of those residents have had their anxiety level further raised by the FDDP.

So the the first result of the survey, it seems to us, is that FDDs are extraordinarily prone to flooding dry basements and and cause anxiety levels they are willing to report.

FDD programs are one of OHM Advisors big business lines. FDD programs are extremely lucrative sources of revenue for companies that used to make their money digging drains and sewers for cities no longer willing to upgrade infrastructure.

If the City and OHM say that FDDs will remain on the table at the CAC, how would OHM propose that the City do those FDDs without providing a clear warning to the homeowner of the flooding risk and the risk of emotional stress? That wouldn’t be negligence or gross negligence. That would be malice.

Remember, this is a program that already has a long factual record on malice, including the many consistent claims of overbearing tactics by City contractor personnel, the long record of disinformation about the FDDP from the City and its contractors, and a history of “public engagement” in the Target Areas that many people call “divide and conquer.”

Next Post: Sewage Backups and Emotional Distress


City Position: FDDs Are “Home Improvements”

The City Attorney’s Office now says that FDDs are actually “home improvements” that “benefit both the property and the owner.”

The CA’s Office is defending the FDDP and FDDs in writing again. The recent statement is part of an argument to the CAC that the burden of an FDD on the owner is minimal.

The statements come in recent memos from the City Attorney’s Office to the CAC for the FDDP Effectiveness Study, which is still ongoing.

Is your FDD (or your neighbor’s) a “home improvement”? Leave us a comment.

 


Residents’ Complaints to the City About Their FDDs #1

Here is one really direct complaint from a resident to the City:

I have now had three incidents of water problems directly related to the sump pump that never happened before this installation. I just had to replace the sump pump, which failed (and turned out to be discerned as a “piece of crap” as said by my contractor who pulled it out) after having to deal once again with flooding in my basement. When all was said and done, this latest wet basement incident cost me another $650 for new pump, labor and blowers. I am beyond annoyed at the frustration and cost this ‘project’ has caused. I feel that [the City-approved FDDP contractor] completely took advantage and installed an incredibly inferior piece of equipment AND they convinced me, and the project director, that I needed to spend the additional $700 at installation for the backup battery which served zero purpose before it malfunctioned and died. GOOD FREAKING GRIEF.

 


Reports from the Basements: Citizens’ Complaints to the City About the FDDP

In 2012, the City sent out a Five-Year Post-Installation Survey Questionnaire to a group of homeowners who had FDDs under the FDDP. A lot of the Survey was a sort of customer satisfaction survey concerning how satisfied or dissatisfied the homeowner was with the FDDP contractor, with the actual construction and installation for the FDD, etc.

At the end of the Survey, however, there was a garden-variety open-ended question just asking for any remarks people wanted to add about their experiences as homeowners with involuntary FDDs. The overall Survey response rate was so poor that the Survey was not deemed statistically valid.

On the other hand, 92 people responded to the Survey, which is a lot of people with FDD’s. Many of them also answered the “open-ended” question with now-increasingly familiar complaints about their FDDs, including complaints about flooding and the expense of operation and maintenance of the FDD installations.

We are just going to start posting these complaints from the 2012 survey (which were all anonymous) in a numbered series. We think these comments are among the most important data we have about the last 12 years of the FDDP because they are collectively a report on how well many of the people with FDDs were reacting to them, as homeowners and human beings, as of 2012. In truth, they weren’t reacting very well, which resulted in exactly NO CHANGE in the City’s pursuit of the FDDP. That is hard for us to understand. 

With your permission, we’ll also post comments you send us at a2underwater@gmail.com.

The comments of these owners (and others to come, I am sure) frame quite clearly a big-picture question that we’ve wondered about for a while, namely, whether the problem of the FDDP (and perhaps FDDs in general), as an engineering idea (effective or not effective), is that it can’t be implemented in practice inside people’s homes. You have to violate the law at a very fundamental level to do it, in the first instance, and it also imposes an unfair, unyielding and unacceptable allocation of known risks and burdens (including, it has to be said, of physical labor) onto a small percentage of the City’s homeowners, specifically for the benefit of other residents.