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Second Appeal Analysis
PA ID# 037-30000-00; City of Glendale
PW ID# Project Worksheet 671; Brand Landfill Storm Drain
As a result of heavy rainfall from February16, 2005 through February 23, 2005, FEMA prepared Project Worksheet (PW) 671 in September 2005 for a storm drain failure at the Brand Landfill in the northern part of the City of Glendale (Applicant). The PW describes the damage reported by the Applicant as a catastrophic collapse of a reinforced concrete pipe (RCP) that extends a distance of 1,200 feet through the landfill itself. The RCP is reportedly 84 inches in diameter from the inlet for the first 100 feet, then decreasing in diameter to 60 inches; however, the RCP is described in the appeals as being 72 inches in diameter. As a result of the failure of the RCP, a sinkhole 60 feet in diameter and 50 feet developed above the storm drain. The Applicant filled the sinkhole with material from a local borrow area, which had the effect of blocking the storm drain and creating a storm water impoundment on the upstream side of the drain. Water from the impoundment had to be pumped out before the inlet to the storm drain could be sealed using concrete slurry. The waste at the Brand Landfill reportedly consists of construction and demolition debris along with vegetative debris. The Applicant requests that FEMA reconsider funding $3,500,000 of the $4,732,523 tcotal cost of replacing the storm drain. The Applicant procured bids to replace the storm drain in 2006. Documentation shows that the Applicant made its first payment to the contractor on June 27, 2007.
Documentation reviewed during preparation of the PW revealed that in April 2002, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB), Los Angeles Region, issued a number of Waste Discharge Requirements (WRD) to the Applicant as the owner and operator of the landfill in its Order No. R4-2002-0091. In that order the RWQCB notes that in 1992, debris from rainstorms blocked the inlet to the storm drain and created a large pond of standing water behind the waste fill. Consequently, in April 2002, the Applicant was ordered to develop a technical proposal for sealing the 72-inch storm drain and providing a means for diverting storm water runoff away from the facility. The Applicant reportedly funded a study to develop a plan to comply with the WRD; however, no plan was ever implemented apparently for environmental and financial reasons. In April 2005, the RWQCB issued a notice of violation (NOV) to the Applicant for violations of Order No. R4-2002-0091. Among other violations, the Applicant failed to abandon the existing storm drain and divert storm water away from the waste fill
Subsequent to the failure of the storm drain in February 2005 the Applicant engaged the engineering firm of Harris & Associates to provide recommendations for the rehabilitation of the storm drain. In the July 2005 report, Harris and Associates stated, The pipe appears to be plain end joints with concrete mortar to seal the space between pipe segments. City staff discovered that the pipe was not laid properly to enable the pipe reinforcing steel to resist the vertical loads. Videotapes apparently show cracking throughout the alignment as a result.
In light of this information, FEMA concluded that repair of the storm drain was ineligible because the facility was not in compliance with the order of the RWQCB and that the RCP storm drain had been damaged prior to the declared event. Therefore, FEMA did not approve funding for PW 671. The Applicant disagrees with FEMAs eligibility and funding determinations. First Appeal
The Applicant submitted the first appeal to the California Governors Office of Emergency Services (OES) in an undated letter on or about January 13, 2006. OES forwarded the appeal to FEMA on March 7, 2006. The Applicant requested that the PW be revised to provide for repairs to the collapsed storm drain in the amount of $3,500,000. In the appeal, the Applicant asserted that the RWQCB has no legal authority to regulate drain pipes or means of conveying storm water. The Applicant alleges that the 125-year storm event which resulted in the collapse of the RCP exceeded the design capacity of the RCP. The Applicant asserts, The City has regularly monitored the condition of the RCP since 1992. The appeal did not address the statement made in the report by Harris & Associates that RCP had not been properly laid and cracks were observed throughout the alignment as a result.
A review of additional information requested subsequent to submission of the first appeal revealed that a study was performed for the city by the firm of PSOMAS in June 2003. PSOMAS stated, The existing pipe has been deteriorating of the years. A recent inspection done by the City shows the existing pipe is beyond rehabilitation and needs to be replaced. Information provided by the Applicant also showed that the storm associated with the declared event was not a 125-year storm as the Applicant stated in the appeal. The Applicant stated in its Second Appeal Request that from December 26, 2004,-February 23, 2005, 29 inches fell in Pomeroy Canyon which suggests a 100 year return frequency for that period. Calculations reported in the PSOMAS report showed that the storm drain would not be able to discharge the flow associated with a 50-year storm. Consequently, the Deputy Regional Director denied the appeal based on the fact that the storm drain was in a significant state of deterioration prior to the declared event, and the Applicant failed to take action to repair or replace it.Second Appeal
The Applicant submitted its second appeal to OES on June 28, 2007, and OES forwarded it to FEMA on August 24, 2007. In the second appeal, the Applicant conceded that it was aware of the condition of the storm drain prior to the incident, stating, Citing the PSOMAS report, Ms. Armes correctly concludes that the City was aware of the deteriorated condition of the RCP before the February 2005 storms and that the RCP may not have been able to handle runoff from a [50-year] storm event. The Applicant goes on to state that,
it is not the runoff from a single rain event that caused the RCP to collapse, but rather, the accumulation of rainfall over the previous 60 days. The Applicant concludes the second appeal by stating that it is not requesting financial assistance to repair the pre-existing condition of the storm drain, but only that portion of the damage caused by the February 2005 storms. In response to the Applicants second appeal, OES sent the Applicant a letter dated August 23, 2007, in which OES states that the Applicants appeal does not provide sufficient documentation to support its contention that certain segments of the storm drain damage can be directly attributed to the disaster. In that letter, OES requested additional information from the Applicant to: (1) delineate the pre-existing damage, (2) clearly define a scope of work, (3) breakdown the costs that the Applicant contends is directly attributable to the disaster, and (4) comment on the July 2005 report by Harris & Associates regarding improper installation of the storm drain during construction. The Applicant provided additional documentation, but it did not breakdown how much of the damage to the storm drain was attributable to pre-existing damage or the declared event.DISCUSSION
The development of sinkholes over damaged storm drains is quite common and the mechanism is well understood by the engineering community. Storm water seeping through the ground carries soil through cracks and openings in the damaged drain pipe creating a void where the soil is removed. The soil is then transported out of the pipe by storm water flowing through the pipe. Over time, with each subsequent rainfall event, more soil is eroded from around the pipe, thus enlarging antil the size of the void space exceeds the soils ability to sustain the arch, at which point the soil arch collapses and the sinkhole is formed. Given the fact that the storm drain was recognized as being is such as state of deterioration as to be beyond rehabilitation (PSOMAS report of 2003) it is probable that the sinkhole has been developing over a much longer period of time than the Applicant realizes. The fact that the sinkhole manifested itself during the incident period is more a matter of coincidence rather than a matter of cause and effect. Although the Applicant attributes the total collapse of the storm drain to the declared event, it is likely, if not probable, that the collapse occurred prior to the incident and the situation became apparent when the sinkhole manifested itself during the declared event. Unless the Applicant was monitoring both the condition of the RCP and the development of the sinkhole prior to the event, it would be impossible to quantify what effect, if any, could be attributed to the declared event. The Applicant claims that it monitored the sinkhole, but it did not submit any documentation to support that claim.CONCLUSION
The deteriorated condition of the storm drain is documented in two separate reports: the PSOMAS report of 2003 and the Harris & Associates report of 2005. The situation with the storm drain was recognized as being problematic by the California RWQCB as far back as 1992. The Applicant admits that it was aware of the condition of the storm drain prior to the declared event and concedes that the declared event was not the sole cause of the problem. The Applicant did not explain or provide documentation to support that $3,500,000 of the damage to the storm drain was attributable to the declared event. The Applicant supplied a rainfall report that indicates most of the damage to the drain pipe occurred before the declared event. Consequently, the Applicants appeal is denied.