20 Comment

  • Wow, I didn’t know it was so bad! I bet Cafe Nonna is happy is closed up shop when it did (silver lining?)

  • Typical infrastructure job. 7 guys on site but 5 of them simply standing there with arms crossed watching.

    • is there anything you’re not jaded about?

      • You say “jaded”, I say reality.

        Considering your water bills have doubled in the past 5 years, and DCWATER pays its contractors prevailing wage (basic entry level labor rate of $32 an hour with fringe), that you too would be a little upset that you have a minimum combined $160/hr simply standing there creating shade.

        Now rinse and repeat for the half a dozen full time contracting crews DC water has working in the District 24/7/365.

        • so, pretty much nothing, right?

        • For what it’s worth, as explained in the post about the DC Water system, alot of the water and wastewater infrastructure is well over 100 years old. It wears out and needs to be replaced. As the feds continue to cut and cut funding for municipalities (clean water state revolving fund) to maintain, update, and replace their infrastructure, it falls on the local agencies themselves to come up with the money through higher rates. Yes, any water project that uses federal funding is subject to the Davis-Bacon prevailing wage provisions, not just in DC. Presumably you’re getting skilled union labor versus fly-by-night contractors who don’t know what they’re doing.

          • Exactly, And in addition to the old, failing infrastructure, they’re under a federal mandate to stop dumping shit into the rivers. It’s a multi-billion project to fix, and it is being paid for by water users.It’s not like DC Water just started paying prevailing wage.

          • Well done, I see missing the forest for the trees argument is well practiced.

            No one is talking about DC’s stormwater issues. Stay focused here as the two have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

            DCWater is a non-public, private utility. They don’t get any federal or city dollars. Their operations are paid for solely through user fees and they are under no obligation to pay prevailing wage. They choose to. Hence my annoyance when I drive by these sites (like I do multiple times a week in a variety of places around the city and we see that 70% of the billable hours onsite literally do nothing. The only reason those 5 guys weren’t sitting in a truck with the A/C cranked is because they saw someone with a camera.

            Lets put this into a more personal perspective. You have a broken water line in your house and you call a plumber to fix it. They show up with 7 guys, you are being billed for each at $32 bucks an hour. 5 of the guys sit out on your stoop for 2 hours smoking and yacking away while 2 guys are in your basement fixing the leak.

            Are you honestly telling me that you either, wouldn’t be incredibly pissed that you were paying 5 guys to sit on your porch and smoke, or tell the 5 to leave and you weren’t paying them?

            Actually, I forgot a third…you would sit there and stew over it, irate that you were paying them to stand there and as soon as they left you would fire up the intertubes and rant to the blogosphere about it.

            Why is waste on a public scale so much more acceptable to you than on a personal scale?

          • Joker,
            You’re wrong. DC Water is a publicly-owned utility and they DO get federal funding. The agency is a member of the association that represents PUBLIC utilities. I don’t know about the guys standing around or what they do, but personally, I don’t think $32/hour is an unreasonable wage in this area.

          • C’mon Soozles…

            Taken directly from DCWATER’s website.

            “In 1996, the District Government initiated the creation of the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC WASA), an independent authority of the District of Columbia providing services to the region. On April 18, 1996, following a 30-day Congressional review period, the District Council enacted DC Law 11-111, “The Water and Sewer Authority Establishment and Department of Public Works Reorganization Act of 1996.”

            DC WASA began a renewal period to improve delivery of water and wastewater treatment services to the District and regional customers and to improve and replace the water and sewer infrastructure. Like many older East Coast cities, Washington, DC’s aging water and sewer infrastructure was in dire need of major renovations and general maintenance.

            Among other operational changes, DC WASA’s finances were no longer tied to the District’s overall budget. This marked a positive change for the organization and its customers since every dollar collected by DC WASA could then be reinvested into operations and capital improvements. Funding for operations, improvements and debt financing now comes through user fees, grants and the sale of revenue bonds.

            In 2010, DC WASA initiated a rebranding campaign and is now known as DC Water”

          • @joker: You may be right, I don’t know. But that’s the problem: as some guy who travels around the city from day to day, seeing construction sites, I really have no way of knowing how complicated the jobs are, how many people-hours it should take, and how much they should be paid for the work that they do. Maybe you have tons of experience in construction management and know better than the rest of us.

            Also, I have no idea if the increase in water rates can be attributed in any way to contracting crews being paid for standing around doing nothing (or something.) Maybe you’ve done extensive research and analysis of DC Water’s accounts over the last decade or two.

            Or is there someone who has? I wouldn’t mind reading it if it’s available.

          • You are correct that it is not tied directly to the DC government, but it is a quasi-governmental body chartered by DC. I worked for the association that represented the publicly owned utilities, and this happens to be an issue that I know a lot about.

            Some cities have utilities that are owned by private entities, but these are for the most part small or rural towns. In some cities—Milwaukee, for example—it is public-private partnership where the city owns the utility, but it is operated by a private company. The reason cities partitioned the utilities off from direct control and set up a situation where the boards are appointed by the mayor, or whoever, was to shield elected officials from the political heat associated with the needed rate increases for the utilities.

            It’s an ongoing debate that utilities remain in public hands to make them more accountable to ratepayers rather than to shareholders. Atlanta represents a disastrous case of what happened when the city let its utility be taken over by a private company. Rates went up, service crumbled, and the city had to take it back.

          • And yes, financing is through user fees (rates), bond issues, and federal grants from the clean water state revolving fund, which is part of EPA’s budget. Most public utilities employ this range of options.

    • Ha, I happend to be down there when this was going on. You can’t tell from the photos but there were at least 30+ workers on the site, mostly doing what they are doing in the photo. 5-10 police vehicles, loads of officers and there was a nice refreshments table set up on the median with water and energy drinks. With the street closed off it kinda felt like a block party.

      • Joker and carver have hit the nail on the head. Why is it that any public “emergency” generates an overresponse like this?

        Public space construction moves at *such* a slow pace in this stupid city and the work quality seems fair-to-average at best (exhibit A: 18th Street renovation). Even a simple arrest of a drunken fool attracts 4-5 officers to stand around and look at the guy getting arrested.

        It all seems like a big scam being played on the taxpayer/ratepayer and it frustrates me, too.

    • Wow, you really are an expert on everything. I’m glad you are certain that the 7 guys standing around at the moment that photo was taken are completely unessential to the repair tasks at any time.

      • Yeah, we’ll be sure to let them know that when they see joker coming, they should at least act busy, or perhaps put on a song and dance for his entertainment.

  • I work in that building next to the mess. Building closed. Not sure if they thought we were going to fall into the sink hole, or just b/c there is no water. Second day in a row working from home. Woohoo!

    • no water. generally you can have about an hour of no water, then it quickly gets to be a health hazard (no flushing, no hand washing, etc)

      • I wish someone had told that to my former employer. We used to lose water somewhat regularly for hours at a time and they never closed our office.

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