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Posted on Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 4:59 p.m.

City enters $70K-a-year contract for cleanup of future sewage backups in Ann Arbor homes

By Ryan J. Stanton

The city of Ann Arbor has entered into a three-year contract with Ypsilanti-based Coach's Catastrophe Cleaning & Restoration Services for future cleanup of sewer backups in city residents' homes and apartments.

The Ann Arbor City Council unanimously approved the $70,000-a-year agreement Monday night. The city contracts for basement cleaning services after sewer backups that result from a blockage in city-owned and maintained sanitary sewers.

City officials said the approved purchase agreement will be used in the future when it is determined by the city's field operations staff that the city is responsible for cleanup. The offered services will include debris removal, but not repair or restoration to property.

Craig Hupy, the city's field operations manager, said the city advertised for bids and Coach's Catastrophe was the lowest responsible bidder. Two other companies — Jarvis Property Restoration and Kristel Cleaning Inc. — submitted bids that were determined to be incomplete, as their bid price would not return affected areas to proper health standards, Hupy said.

For the cost of cleaning and sanitizing a 900-square-foot carpeted area, Jarvis and Kristel both bid $135. Coach's Catastrophe bid $926.27, but that included a more complete array of services, including debris removal, disposal, cleaning, sanitizing, and drying.

Heavy rains on May 25 caused portions of the city's sanitary sewer system to become stressed and there were at least 87 reports of sewer backups in basements, city officials said.

The Michigan Court of Appeals recently ruled in favor of the city in a lawsuit in which several Ann Arbor residents claimed a defect in the city's sewer system caused backups in their basements on the city's northeast side back in 2008.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.



Wed, Oct 19, 2011 : 4:02 p.m.

Having worked with Coach's, they do great work and are available 24/7/365. However, if there are heavy rains and the sewer backs-up whenever is it the homeowners fault? Is this a cheaper way for the city to prevent lawsuits from future sewer backup's? Since there was a recent backup where residents sued the city, is this their response? Was it cheaper to implement this than lawsuits? Is there an out clause that if the homeowner accepts cleanup they won't be allowed to sue the city? Providing a service on this level to residents seems as though the city is protecting itself more than offering a service to residents.


Wed, Oct 19, 2011 : 1:47 p.m.

At least the city went with a local firm instead of contracting out-of-state.


Wed, Oct 19, 2011 : 11:40 a.m.

As an employee of another Ann Arbor company which also does restoration work I have to say that this is entertaining. I cannot believe that the other two companies put in such low bids and thank the city officials for not even considering them. Imagine arriving to a sewage back-up job where there may be three inches of raw sewage in a home. You have to treat it as there may be hazardous substances which could pass on disease to the workers. In most cases you need to wear a tyvek suit and respirator, remove all the solid waste, dispose of all items which came in contact with the sewage, and clean and sanitize the area. Are you going to do all of that for $150.00? There are huge liabilities in these jobs and they have to be done according to the book to prevent any future problems. It's lowball companies like these that put your family at risk and confuse normal homeowners on the seriousness of water/sewage damage restoration. I do wish our company would have known they were accepting bids but I do think the city got a pretty fair deal.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 10:57 p.m.

It's only if the sewer backs up from city side of the side walk.


Tue, Oct 18, 2011 : 10:34 p.m.

Wait, so now anyone in the city with a sewer back up can call the city to come and clean up their basement? What?