Macomb County commissioners will be asked Thursday to approve up to $20 million in a low-interest loan for work on the sewer line that collapsed and triggered a massive Fraser sinkhole.
The Macomb County board is expected to discuss the request for the Macomb Interceptor Drain Drainage District at its meeting Thursday. The short-term loan will be used to cover the Macomb County Public Works department’s $15 million in expenses, including for engineering and construction costs for work on the Macomb Interceptor, said Brian Baker, with the county Public Works department.
“Before we sell a long-term bond, we’re going to have some bills coming due,” Baker said. “What we’ve worked out is what I think is a pro-active agreement between the departments.”
The loan, at 0.55 percent interest, would tap the country Treasurer’s delinquent tax revolving fund, Baker said.
“If we can borrow those monies and pay whatever they’re making on those investments, it has no downside or negative effect on what the treasurer is making,” he said. “It’s a way for us to pay our bills until we sell a longer term bond, which would probably occur in April.”
The loan will have no impact on the county’s bond rating because it is short term, Baker said.
Meanwhile nearly an inch of rainfall kept Macomb County officials on guard Tuesday over concerns too much water could overwhelm sewer infrastructure damaged in the collapse Dec. 24 and prompt officials to dump sewage into the Clinton River.
County officials were watching water levels from a command center that has several data screens allowing staff to monitor the levels of sewage traveling through the Macomb Interceptor Drain Drainage District.
“We’re cautiously optimistic,” said Candice Miller, Macomb County Public Works commissioner on Tuesday.
A 100-foot-wide, 250-foot-long sinkhole emerged on 15 Mile near Eberline just east of Hayes in Fraser on Christmas Eve after the interceptor collapsed. Officials said it was caused by the collapse of the leaking interceptor sewer main that runs under 15 Mile, the border between Clinton Township and Fraser.
The collapse forced the evacuation of 22 homes. The occupants of 19 of the homes have since been allowed to return; three other homes have been condemned.
As of Tuesday afternoon, levels remained below a point that would cause her staff to panic, Miller said. Officials are hoping to avoid dumping sewage into the Clinton River.
“We’ve got a cushion,” she said. “I think we’re going to be all right today.”
Rain is forecast again for Friday, according to the National Weather Service.
In anticipation of the rain Tuesday, crews adjusted the flow from pump stations to lower the level of water traveling through the system, said Joe Betz, a manager with the Macomb County Public Works Office. There needs to be some water in the system at all times to prevent further collapse, officials said.
“There are so many eyes on this 24/7,” Betz said.
Worry about rainfall came two days after county officials warned that as a result of problems associated with the sinkhole, the sewer system might not be able to handle any increase in water usage by residents during the Super Bowl. On Monday, Miller said the efforts were a success. “Our Macomb County neighbors are simply the best!” she tweeted.
The affected communities are the cities of Fraser, Sterling Heights, Utica, New Haven as well as Chesterfield, Shelby, Clinton, Harrison, Lenox and Washington townships. Selfridge Air National Guard Base is also affected, officials said.
Miller said water conservation efforts in the nearly communities is working. She urged the 300,000 residents to continue to restrict water use until a 6,000-foot temporary bypass was in place. Work is expected to be complete the first week of March.
“It is helping,” she said. “Any bit is helpful.”