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El Ni?o damaged storm drain system

Appeal Brief Appeal Letter Appeal Analysis

Appeal Brief

DisasterFEMA-1203-DR
ApplicantCity of San Diego
Appeal TypeSecond
PA ID#073-66000
PW ID#01356/52105; 01364
Date Signed2000-11-16T05:00:00
Citation: FEMA-1203-DR-CA; City of San Diego; PA ID 073-66000; DSR 01356/52105

Cross Reference: El Ni?o storms and floods; Sewer system damage; eligible facility repairs.

Summary: The City of San Diego requested federal assistance following the 1998 storms caused by El Ni?o for damages its storm drain system sustained. Two projects are the subject of this appeal-DSR52105 and DSR 01364. FEMA generated DSR 52105 (previously 01356) for $9,072 to repair a slope and to install 100 feet of 18-inch reinforced concrete pipe (RCP). The City asserted that a eucalyptus tree, which fell during the storm, uprooted the pipeline and that the tree fell because the slope had eroded due to the heavy rains. It, therefore, estimated the cost of the project at $140,000 and did not accept FEMA's estimate. The City requested the determination be referred to independent FEMA/OES review. The review team did not consider this project and informed the applicant that its only recourse was to appeal. The first appeal was submitted to the Regional Director (RD). The City asserted that storm drain failure history showed one per year, none of which were caused by deterioration. Following the disaster, however, the City experienced over 30 failures. The Regional Director denied the appeal because the applicant failed to show that damage was a direct result of the disaster. The RD determined that the pipeline was corroded and caused the ground to become saturated with the result that the tree fell. The City has now submitted a second appeal showing that the uprooted pipes were in good condition and reasoned that with a 2:1 grade slope, it was inconceivable for the pipes to keep water between flows to expedite corrosion. It also presented a revised cost summary of $54,336 to repair.
FEMA wrote DSR 01364 for $92,486 to repair sinkhole damage from storm sewer collapses in a development. The City estimated $650,000 for the same project and requested independent review to resolve the discrepancy. The review team recommended that FEMA treat the project as an improved project paying only for the sinkholes and a limited amount of RCP interconnection. In this second appeal, the applicant presented photos as evidence that, except for minor perforations, the pipeline had not deteriorated. It revised its claim to $104,416.

Issue: Is all the work being requested by the City in DSRs 52105 and 01364 eligible?

Findings: FEMA finds $13,000 of the City's estimate of $54,336 in DSR 52105 eligible for disaster funding. FEMA also finds $92,486 of the City's estimate of $104,416 in DSR 01364 eligible.

Rationale: 44 CFR 206.223 (a) (1).

Appeal Letter

November 16, 2000

Mr. D.A. Christian
Governor's Authorized Representative
Governor's Office of Emergency Services
Post Office Box 419023
Rancho Cordova, California 95741

Re: Second Appeal: City of San Diego, P.A. ID 073-66000, Storm Drains, FEMA-1203-DR-CA; DSRs 01356/52105, 01364/96434. Log # DET/73502/73503.

Dear Mr. Christian:

This is in response to your April 21, 2000, letter forwarding the February 24, 2000, second appeal letters from the City of San Diego. The applicant is appealing the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA's) determination that Damage Survey Report (DSR) 01356/52105 was ineligible, and the deobligation of DSR 01364. The City had applied for disaster assistance in the aftermath of the early 1998 storms and flooding caused by El Ni?o, to repair or replace a number of sections of storm drains that had sustained damage in the City.

I have carefully considered the applicant's appeal and have reviewed the documentation on file. The City did not present any new evidence to reverse FEMA's first appeal determination. However, because the storm caused emergency situations to develop, I am partially approving the request. DSR 01356/52105 is hereby approved for eligible costs of $13,000 of the $54,336 requested, and DSR 01364 is approved for $92,486 of the $104,416 requested. The basis for my determinations is contained in the enclosed Appeal Analysis. By copy of this letter I am requesting the Regional Director to implement my determination to fund the projects.

Please inform the subgrantee of my determination. In accordance with the appeal procedure set forth in 44 CFR 206.206, my decision constitutes the final decision on this matter.

Sincerely,
/S/
Lacy E. Suiter
Executive Associate Director
Response and Recovery Directorate

Enclosure

cc. Martha Whetstone
Regional Director
FEMA Region IX

Appeal Analysis

The City of San Diego submitted a February 24, 2000, second appeal of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA's) determination that Damage Survey Report (DSR) 01356/52105 was ineligible and the deobligation of DSR 01364. The City had applied for disaster assistance in the aftermath of the early 1998 storms and flooding caused by El Ni?o, to repair or replace a number of sections of storm drains that had sustained damage in the City.

DSR 01356/52105
Background
On September 24, 1998, FEMA wrote DSR 52105-the renumbered duplicate of DSR 01356-describing damages to a 40-foot section of an 18-inch corrugated metal pipe (CMP) storm drain. The inspectors observed that a large eucalyptus tree whose roots were growing around the drainpipe fell during the storm and tore out a 20-foot section of the 18-inch CMP as it fell and damaged the adjacent upstream 20-foot section. The 20-foot section that was torn out allowed drain flow to erode approximately 100 cubic yards of slope. DSR photographs taken at the site showed the 20-foot section of pipe sticking out of the ground with a 6-inch-wide corroded section of the invert missing. The City's representative provided a television camera photograph that was taken before the incident showing the same corrosion in the invert. The FEMA inspector, therefore, determined that the heavy rainfall and runoff saturated the soil through the eroded pipeline and caused the tree to fall. The draft DSR was written for $9,072 but was approved for $0 because the damage was not caused by the incident.

The City presented an estimate of $140,000 to repair the storm drain facility claiming that it needed to replace 251 linear feet of CMP with reinforced concrete pipe (RCP), plus the installation of 1 cleanout, 3 cutoff walls, 1 headwall and 1 energy dissipator. The cleanout, cutoff walls, headwall and energy dissipator did not exist at the damaged site before the disaster. The additional length of storm drain included in the estimate represented the removal and replacement of CMP that was not damaged but was considered to be deteriorated. The applicant requested an independent FEMA/OES review of this DSR because FEMA determined that the damages were not caused by the disaster.

On April 1, 1999, the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES) wrote the City with the result of the review. The independent review team did not make a recommendation on this project. Its only comment was that the "DSR was replaced by DSR 52105 which was papped. The City's only recourse is to appeal this DSR." Although it appeared that there could be emergency costs, the applicant presented no documentation to show damages that might be eligible. Therefore, the review team recommended no change in the original determination of zero eligibility.

In a May 24, 1999, letter to the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES) in response to the independent review team's recommendations regarding the disposition of 5 Damage Survey Reports (DSRs 01355, 01356, 01358, 01362 and 01364), the City argued that FEMA must replace the entire storm drain system. The City expressed its disappointment at the results of the review and reiterated its position that the damages were caused by the disaster. The City stated that none of the storm drains that failed were previously known to be deteriorated. It had experienced only one failure per year over the previous ten years but experienced over 30 failures over the incident period. OES forwarded this letter to FEMA on July 12, 1999, with the comment that the City provided no documentation to support its claim. OES continued. "In fact, the City has attached a letter from the City of San Diego, Engineering and Development Department, dated June 24, 1992, that seems to indicate the contrary. This letter addressed to all practicing engineers in the city, states that the city had experienced several premature metal pipe failures and had decided to abandon the use of metal pipe for public storm drains." The City had actually written a contract to replace the storm drain system before the disaster occurred but had not yet awarded the contract when the disaster struck. The Regional Director denied the appeal because the applicant failed to show that damage was a direct result of the incident. The determination was that the drainpipe was corroded before the incident and this corrosion contributed to the soil becoming saturated with water causing the tree to fall.

In this second appeal, the applicant questioned whether the correct CMP photograph was submitted with the DSR. The City reasoned that a pipeline with the grade of the slope in which it was embedded would not normally retain sediment at its invert and also would not corrode in the same manner as an almost level pipe would. The City drew attention to the pipeline in the after-the-disaster DSR photos and asserted that the pipeline was intact with no sign of corrosion. It is on this basis that the City questioned whether the correct photograph was included in the DSR. In addition, the City revised its request down to $54,336. This revised figure includes 167.68 linear feet of 18-inch RCP at $200 per LF

Analysis
FEMA has examined the DSR photographs and especially the one showing the 20-foot section of drainpipe sticking out of the ground at the damage site. Our examination clearly indicated that the pipe did have an approximate six-inch section of invert missing, which is consistent with the finding of the inspectors who visited the site after the disaster. FEMA examined the cost breakdown provided in the appeal totaling $54,336. The repairs included in the estimate are not all eligible for disaster assistance because they were not caused by the disaster. FEMA determined the eligible repairs to be as described in the DSR including the replacement of 40 linear feet of 18-inch RCP that was damaged by the disaster at $200 per LF ($8,000) plus the installation of 100 cubic yards of backfill at $50 per cubic yard ($5,000) for a total of $13,000.

Conclusion
The second appeal is partially approved in the amount of $13,000. FEMA is not approving the applicant's total appeal for $54,336 because the damages that the City is claiming were not caused by the disaster. The City's storm drain system had been determined to be deteriorated and required replacement even before the storms occurred.

DSR 01364
Background
FEMA wrote DSR 01364 on September 14, 1998, for $92,486 to repair damages that the City sustained on its storm sewer drainage system in a development. The DSR described installing lengths of RCP where the storm drain pipe had collapsed and the filling of six sinkholes at the collapses. The DSR documented the requirement to replace 361 linear feet of damaged storm drain-102 linear feet of 18-inch RCP on Hamlet Court and Hamlet Avenue, 109 linear feet of 24-inch RCP in one section of Keighley Street and 150 linear feet of 30-inch RCP at another section of Keighley Street. In addition to the installation of RCP and the filling in of the sinkholes that developed where the drain pipes collapsed, the DSR also provided for backfill, pipe trench excavation, bituminous concrete pavement, aggregate base course, sawcut of pavement and dump charges. The repairs were limited in scope to emergency measures because the entire storm drainage system in the City was determined to be severely deteriorated.

The City submitted a project cost estimate that was attached to the DSR showing that it would cost $650,530 to repair the damages it considered eligible. Major items included in this estimate were 3010 linear feet of RCP of assorted sizes for $350,330, 11 ea. A-4 cleanouts for $41,800, 1786 square feet of curb and gutter for $29,916 and 4060 square feet of sidewalk for $20,300. Because of the styhat the project be subjected to an independent FEMA/OES review. FEMA generated DSR 96434 to deobligate $92,486 because the failure of the pipeline was caused by its severely degraded condition, not by the disaster.

On April 1, 1999, the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES) wrote the City with the result of the review. The independent review team found that the project should be treated as an improved project with FEMA only replacing the damaged lengths of pipe plus 20 feet on each side for joint to joint connection. The team also recommended that the installation of RCP instead of CMP was an eligible code and standard upgrade. The repairs included filling in the sinkholes caused by the collapses.

The City submitted a May 24, 1999, letter appealing FEMA's determination in five similar sewer projects, including this one-DSR 01364. In its appeal, the City expressed its disappointment at the results of the review and reiterated its position that the damages were caused by the disaster. OES forwarded this letter to FEMA on July 12, 1999, with the comment that the City provided no documentation to support its claim. OES continued. "In fact, the City has attached a letter from the City of San Diego, Engineering and Development Department, dated June 24, 1992, that seems to indicate the contrary. This letter addressed to all practicing engineers in the city, states that the city had experienced several premature metal pipe failures and had decided to abandon the use of metal pipe for public storm drains." FEMA's independent analysis had previously determined that the pipeline had suffered from deferred maintenance and needed to be replaced even before the incident. Therefore, in a November 24, 1999, letter, the Regional Director denied the appeal because the applicant failed to show that damage was the direct result of the incident.

In this second appeal, the applicant claimed that the pipeline, which had been installed in the mid-1960s and included a coal tar coated lining, had not even reached the halfway point of its service life. A picture purporting to show a portion of the pipeline between sinkholes after the disaster was enclosed as evidence that, except for minor perforations, it was intact. The applicant considered it reasonable to conclude that the flood caused premature failure of the pipeline through excessive hydraulic pressure caused by the unusually heavy flow. The City reduced its request in the appeal to $104,416, the revised estimate to repair the damages. It included the installation of RCP and the filling the sinkholes.

The estimate submitted by the applicant showed a reduction in the quantity of pipeline from the first appeal request for the installation of 3010 linear feet down to 900 linear feet in the second appeal. This quantity of pipeline, however, is still higher than the original FEMA determined length of 361 linear feet. The estimate also reduced the quantities of curb and gutter, and sidewalks from the first appeal but kept the amount of fill material the same. The Governor's Authorized Representative (GAR) in his April 21, 2000, letter forwarding the applicant's second appeal stated that he believed that the review correctly identified the disaster related damages and the eligible scope of work to be what was defined in the original DSR 01364. Therefore, he recommended that only those funds necessary to replace the length of disaster-damaged pipeline and the filling of the sinkholes at the collapses in the original amount of $92,486 be determined eligible for FEMA funding.

Analysis
The City had itself determined that its storm drain system consisting of CMP had suffered numerous failures before the occurrence of the disaster and plans were underway to rehabilitate the entire storm drain system in the city. The City had alerted all practicing engineers that it had experienced premature metal pipe failures and that CMP storm drains should be replaced with RCP whenever repairs to the system were being undertaken. Under the circumstances, FEMA would only fund the repair of the portions of the system that contributed to emergency situations but would not extend the repairs to include portions that were undamaged but that the City wanted replaced.

DSR 01364 clearly identified the areas that were damaged by the storms and the estimates generated by the inspectors were reviewed and had the concurrence of OES. Therefore, FEMA will fund $92,486 for the repairs defined in this DSR.

Conclusion
The City of San Diego's second appeal for $104,416 under DSR 01364 is partially approved for $92,486 to repair damages to the City's storm drains as defined in the DSR.

The Regional Director will prepare a DSR for $105,486, the combined approved amounts in the two DSRs ($13,000 + $92,486) to implement the Associate Director's determination.
Last updated February 4, 2020