As one of our very first clients, NTH is privileged to have worked with DTE Energy for more than 50 years. Since our first project, for what was then Detroit Edison at their St. Clair Power Plant, we have continued to build on our professional relationships throughout DTE and have grown together, providing services for the common good of the communities where we live. We would just like to say thank you to DTE for being a part of our family and are very grateful for their continued patronage. Below is a profile of our relationship with DTE highlighting the services we've provided over the last 50 years.
This event has been popular with participants year after year, and this year was no different. This event gives the participants the opportunity to get their hands dirty and have fun, all while learning a little about what engineers can do to help protect the environment and those who live around it!
NTH Teams Win Engineering Eminent Conceptor and Engineering Honorable Conceptor Awards
The ACM is a non-profit testing, education and product development facility for future mobility, designed to enable safe validation and self-certification of connected and automated vehicle technology, and to accelerate the development of voluntary standards. The project included utilizing re-purposed MDOT right-of-way along US-12 to complete the approximately 3-mile highway loop, development of a boulevard and urban corridor, a 700’ roadway tunnel, and deployment of connected technologies. NTH staff, led by Brad Venman and Bhushan Modi, assisted with property redevelopment, planning, and design details, and helped to ensure compliance with the Declaration of Restrictive Covenants (DRCs) requirements and ongoing affirmative obligations (due care activities) for management of environmental risks.
The Owner selected DVM Utilities, Inc. (DVM) as the contractor to replace the collapsed sewer. Their experience and expertise in HDD and innovative construction methods allowed the team to utilize a low-cost construction method within extremely tight constraints and tolerances.
We Are Hiring
In addition to these award-winning projects, NTH has been involved with some of the most prominent and interesting projects in our region, including the Gordie Howe International Bridge, West Riverfront Park and Little Caesar’s Arena. If you are interested in joining our team to work on these and other exciting projects, visit bit.ly/NTHandYou to learn more about us and search for your next career.
By Jason Edberg, P.E., NTH Senior Vice President
The newly-minted Governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, raised eyebrows with her campaign promise to “fix the damn roads,” but it seems like her new MDOT director is accepting the challenge.
I had the pleasure of hearing Paul Ajegba, Whitmer’s choice to lead the Michigan Department of Transportation, at a recent conference. Ajeba picked up the proverbial gauntlet, with a clear caveat - “we don’t have the money to build it the right way.” He indicated that an additional $1.5 billion in annual funding is required to bring meaningful improvements to our state’s highways and bridges.
This is not a new revelation, following on former Governor Snyder’s 21st Century Infrastructure Commission’s findings that a Michigan has a $2.2 billion unfunded annual need to maintain and improve its highways, roads, and bridges. This emboldened many to claim that the 2015 road funding legislation wasn’t enough, and Michigan remains in the bottom 10 percent of state spending on roads, per capita.
To its credit, MDOT is doing the best they can with the resources they have, and I have no doubt that this will continue under Director Ajeba’s leadership. Perhaps continuing the recent trend of alternative contracting methods, such as design-build, and design-build-finance-operate-maintain, can help the Department stretch their road dollars even further.
Transportation professionals and the driving public alike are eagerly awaiting details of Governor Whitmer’s road funding plan, our first peek at which may come in her state budget proposal in March.
NTH has been at the forefront of repairing Michigan’s infrastructure for over 50 years, including recent landmark projects like the Gordie Howe International Bridge and Segment 3 of the Modernize I-75 program. If you are interested in reading more about our Infrastructure Market, our services or our Signature Transportation projects, click here.
During our February webinar there were several questions asked by attendees; we were able to answer many, but we ran out of time before getting to all of them. As promised, our presenters have drafted answers to all of your questions. Please see the full Q & A below.
Our next webinar will be on April 10, 2019 at 12:00 pm. We will update our webinar page once the details are finalized.
If you were not able to attend the webinar, you can view it here:
National Association for Business Resources Names Top Businesses to Work for in the Nation
Continuing its streak of recognition for exemplary company culture and employee engagement, NTH announced that it has recently been named a Best and Brightest Companies to Work For in the Nation. The Best and Brightest Program honored 512 national winning organizations from across the country out of 2,400 nominations.
The Best and Brightest Companies to Work For® competition identifies and honors organizations that display a commitment to excellence in operations and employee enrichment that lead to increased productivity and financial performance. It scores potential winners based on regional data of company performance and a set standard across the nation. The award celebrates those companies that are making better business, creating richer lives and building a stronger community as a whole. The 2018 national winning companies were assessed by an independent research firm which reviewed a number of key measures relative to other nationally recognized winners.
Earlier in 2018, NTH received the “ESOP Company of the Year” award, as well as earning a spot as one of “Metro Detroit’s 2018 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For”.
University Prep Math and Science Middle School, Detroit Wins Best Engineered Project
NTH Consultants was proud to sponsor the 2019 Michigan Regional Future City Competition on January 22, 2018, at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Michigan.The ESD Michigan Regional Future City Competition is designed to engage students' interest in math, science, and engineering through real-life, practical and hands-on activities. Future City is a cross-curricular educational program where students work as a team with an educator and volunteer mentor to design a city of the future.
This year, the Future City Challenge theme was "Powering Our Future!" The teams were challenged to design a city with a resilient power grid that can withstand or recover quickly from natural disasters.
As in the past, NTH judged the "Best Engineered Project" special award. There was considerable competition in this category, and all of the teams had interesting engineering solutions that would allow their cities to withstand natural disasters. University Prep Math and Science Middle School, Detroit did stand out to our judges due to the layout of their city and their infrastructure design, however, it was their solution to river flooding that really caught our eye. They designed the banks of their river to be surrounded by balloon-type structures that would inflate automatically at the first sign of rising waters in order to protect the city from flooding. These structures would then deflate when the threat disappeared without any physical work needed to remove them, like sand bags or other manual solutions would require.
Another team that stood out to us for their engineering and their excellent presenting skills was St. John's Lutheran School. Their city and supplemental collateral were an excellent way to convey their engineering solutions. It turns our that our instincts were right on as this all-female team ended up winning the entire competition. In February, the winning team from each region competes at the national finals in Washington, DC, so St. John's will represent Michigan to compete in the finals. (Click here for the link to all winners.)
Our judging team was thrilled to participate in the competition again this year and enjoyed seeing the enthusiasm, intelligence and creativity from these 6th - 8th grade students. We expect to be working alongside some of them in the future here at NTH!
Edberg and Sachidanandan to lead NTH’s Public Infrastructure and Underground Engineering Effort
NTH today announced the promotions of two key leaders within the firm to support the firm’s growing public infrastructure and underground engineering initiatives.
Jason Edberg, P.E., who has provided his leadership to the firm’s operations for a number of years, and has been instrumental in creating a vision and charting the course for NTH’s Underground Engineering Division, has been promoted from Vice President to Senior Vice President. In this position, Jason will manage NTH’s portfolio of water, wastewater, and transportation clients and lead the firm’s public infrastructure initiatives, building upon recent high-profile project wins, such as the Gordie Howe International Bridge and Segment 3 of the I-75 Modernization Project.
Jason joined NTH in 2004 and was named Young Engineer of the Year in 2009 by the Michigan Society of Professional Engineers (Detroit) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (Michigan). Jason has more than 19 years of experience in heavy civil / structural design and project management, and during his time at NTH, he has taken the helm of several major infrastructure projects, garnering local, regional, and national awards.
Saju Sachidanandan, P.E. has been promoted to Vice President. In this position, Saju will lead the expanded Underground Engineering Division that began under Jason’s leadership and will oversee the infrastructure design, subsurface exploration, geo-structural, and construction support teams as well as laboratory operations for NTH. Saju has more than 18 years of experience in civil / structural engineering and will bring the high-level project delivery and operational skills he has developed with NTH to maintain the firm’s 50-year tradition of providing excellent service to our clients. Saju joined NTH in 2005 and has served in technical and project management roles in the design and construction of major civil infrastructure projects.
“NTH is committed to providing growth opportunities for our staff and has a history of rewarding hard work and strong leadership. Jason and Saju have proven that they have the depth of experience and the vision to help move NTH forward to where we want to be as a company,” said Jeff Jaros, Chief Operating Officer.
Performing Condition Assessments & Restoration on and around Belle Isle's Riverfront
NTH has been part of the reclamation of the Detroit Riverfront for many years and our experts have completed several condition assessments on and around Belle Isle over the last three decades. In fact, between the Rouge River and the Detroit River, NTH’s Detroit Office has been involved in more than 40 shoreline and shoreline structure restoration projects. For example, NTH worked with the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy to design the initial 3.5 mile stretch along the East Riverfront in 2007. Four years later, NTH completed the nearby award-winning Port Authority project, a complex project in which NTH rehabilitated a 90-year old wharf structure while maintaining two active CSO outfalls and a raw water pump station and transmission main in a densely developed area. Also, NTH designed temporary shoring and bracing for the award-winning Cobo Arena renovation, and we just began work on the highly-anticipated West Riverfront Park.
In addition, just outside of Belle Isle, NTH performed a condition assessment of the Edison Boat Club in 2015 to identify the capital funding needed to bring the existing facility and appurtenant structures up to current design codes and standards.
NTH has also worked directly on Belle Isle over the years. Some of those projects include:
The Detroit Boat Club: Detroit Boat Club is a well-known landmark located just east of the bridge on Belle Isle in Detroit, Michigan. In 1991, NTH was retained by the City of Detroit Recreation Department to perform a condition survey of the facility. The investigation and recommendations addressed the building, its foundations, the attendant structures on shore and the dock system that existed at the time. In 1996, NTH was again retained to assess the current state of the structure and compare it to the 1991 study. This assessment included roof framing and sheathing, asbestos, lead based paint and the pile foundations.
The Belle Isle Aquarium and Conservatory: While not directly on the waterfront, NTH was retained to provide a building envelope evaluation of these structures due to our experience in the area. NTH conducted a detailed investigation of structural members to identify evidence of physical deterioration and loss of structural capacity. Our professionals obtained representative samples of structural members for laboratory analysis of yield strength, ultimate strength, and elongation of the structural steel. We also analyzed samples of protective paint coatings on structural members, through atomic absorption spectroscopy, to identify lead content. Finally, NTH performed an evaluation of exterior masonry walls and glass/glazing systems to document conditions of physical distress, deterioration, and suitability for future rehabilitation and prepared a detailed report to document existing conditions for each facility, and included recommendations for long-term restoration of the structural and facade systems.
Belle Isle Intake Dike Inspection: NTH performed dive and above water inspections of the shoreline protection systems at the Belle Isle Intake and the design of repair and restoration measures.
Belle Isle Shoreline Restoration: NTH provided analysis and design of a shoreline protection system for an eroding portion of the shoreline at the west end of the island.
Our experience with analysis of numerous shoreline systems and with investigating and repairing failed shorelines and shoreline structures affords NTH a unique perspective that allows us to quickly ascertain the critical project elements and pursue appropriate solutions. If you have a waterfront project that requires consultation with industry experts, let us know how we can help.
Why did DWSD Start Charging for Stormwater?
In October 2016, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) started charging property owners a fee to discharge stormwater generated from each parcel within city limits to sewers. Like many older communities, Detroit has a combined sewer system, meaning the sanitary sewer and stormwater flow to the same piping system and end up at the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) or combined sewer overflow (CSO) control facilities. To offset the fee, DWSD also rolled out a stormwater credit program, encouraging their customers to reduce their monthly stormwater charges by earning volume credits (lowering the volume of stormwater leaving their site), or peak flow credits (retaining their stormwater temporarily after a rain event before releasing it to the sewer). Volume credits are available because DWSD’s portion of the costs associated with running the WWTP are determined based on the amount of wastewater volume generated by parcels in the City of Detroit. Peak flow credits are available because Detroit has to build CSO control facilities to detain and treat the water during large storm events. Reducing the amount of stormwater entering the system would reduce the need to build and maintain more of these facilities.
How to Lower the Cost of a Stormwater Bill
DWSD determines the stormwater bill for each customer by calculating the amount of impervious area (parking areas and roofs) on the site and multiplying it by a drainage charge rate. Therefore, the best way to achieve savings is by removing impervious surfaces (unnecessary parking/pavement areas, unused buildings) from the property and replacing them with pervious surfaces (grass, landscaping, gravel), if plausible. Customers can reduce their stormwater fees because they are not billed for pervious areas on their property, only the impervious areas.
Of course, customers cannot remove all impervious areas on their site, and that’s where the stormwater credits and green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) practices provide financial relief. Credits can be achieved through a number of common GSI practices, including bioretention (rain gardens, bioswales, planter boxes), roof drain disconnection (sending gutters to lawn areas or GSI practices instead of the sewer), detention basins, green roofs, rainwater harvesting/ reuse, and permeable pavement. Customers can achieve volume credits with retention, by allowing their stormwater to infiltrate into the ground on their site rather than entering the sewer. They can earn peak flow credits with detention by releasing their stormwater slowly over a period of time. Customers can receive up to an 80 percent reduction of their stormwater charge by implementing practices that achieve both volume and peak flow reduction, or 40 percent for implementing one type of practice (volume or peak reduction).
Receiving Stormwater Credits: The Process
To begin the process, customers first contact DWSD and set up a free site assessment. DWSD representatives will come out to the property, perform a site assessment, and develop a conceptual report and plan, including projected costs, savings, and payback period associated with the installation of GSI practices. During this process, the customer can hire a consulting engineer to move forward with the conceptual plan and perform a full design for the site; a licensed professional engineer (PE) is required to seal the construction drawings. The consulting engineer can complete design and construction plans, finalize the cost estimate, complete the appropriate credit applications and supporting documentation, and help the customer receive approval from DWSD through negotiations. The property owner will need to hire a contractor to install the GSI practices, and after it is built, a PE certifies constructed conditions to receive credits. The credits remain valid for 3 years; afterwards, if a PE or certified stormwater operator confirm acceptable operation and performance, the owner will continue receiving stormwater credits for another 3 years.
Sources of Funding
DWSD set up the Capital Partnership Program (CPP), in which non-residential customers can receive a grant that covers up to 50 percent of a GSI practice installation project with a maximum grant of $50,000. To receive a grant, the applicant must meet the requirements outlined in the application and sign an agreement with DWSD for ongoing maintenance. Non-profit organizations can earn credits through community outreach by educating residents about the stormwater credit program. Non-profits can receive credits by sharing information with residents, collecting awareness surveys, providing testimonials, and hosting events for DWSD. To be considered for this program, non-profits must submit an application, enter into an Outreach Credit Agreement, and, once approved, submit validation of successful outreach activity. There are other sources of funding available in the area, such as from the Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund, a public-private partnership to improve natural resources in Southeast Michigan.
GSI practices offer benefits to DWSD due to lower volumes, which help Detroit comply with federal environmental mandates, but also offer benefits to a property owner, as the upfront cost will eventually pay off through savings on the stormwater charge in the future. GSI practices also improve water quality, restore natural features, and reduce flooding concerns and combined sewer overflows attributed with large storms.
NTH can help clients with similar challenges through creative GSI design. If you are interested in a consultation with your stormwater project, please contact me at email@example.com.
Links to More Information
DWSD Drainage Guide and Applications
Community Outreach Credit Information
DWSD Capital Partnership Program Application
Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund Information
The NTH Narrator
NTH Consultants, Ltd. (NTH) is a nationally recognized engineering firm specializing in Geotechnical, Environmental, and Facilities Engineering.