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Mount Clemens will take on some of county’s sewage flow

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

The city of Mount Clemens is providing some relief through the use of its wastewater treatment plant to Macomb County as officials work to repair a collapsed sewer line and avoid dumping sewage into the Clinton River.

County officials announced Friday that the city of Mount Clemens has agreed to let the Macomb County Office of Public Works divert some sewage to the Mount Clemens Wastewater Treatment Plant.

“I’m really very grateful,” Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller said Friday afternoon following a meeting with leaders of 11 communities impacted by the collapse last month of the Macomb Interceptor Drain Drainage District. “I called the mayor and she said let’s get our engineers to see if this is possible. It will be a big relief.”

The diversion, to reduce the volume of sewage carried around the damaged sewer line along 15 Mile in Fraser, comes after officials Thursday urged residents in nearly a dozen Macomb communities to restrict water usage to lessen the flow of sewage into the interceptor.

Miller said the diversion will last as long as needed.

“Once we get the temporary bypass built, which would take us about a month, we’ll be able to divert mostly all of the flow into the temporary bypass,” she said. “(Then) we should be OK. We can take a breather and assess the situation, get into the pipe. We’ll know what we have to do to fix it.”

The 100-foot-wide, 250-foot-long sinkhole emerged on 15 Mile near Eberline on Christmas Eve after the interceptor collapsed. Officials have said the line and the sinkhole are expected to cost at least $78 million — but could exceed $100 million — to fix.

Miller said Friday the county has received interest from 13 companies for the project.

Normally, sewage flow from the 11 communities in Macomb County passes through the Macomb Interceptor Drain Drainage District and makes its way to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Treatment Plant in Detroit. 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 impacted, officials said.

Mount Clemens is not in the drainage district and has its own wastewater treatment plant, Miller said. The city has more capacity than it is utilizing.

Officials said the decision to divert sewage to Mount Clemens required approvals from the Michigan Department of Environmental Equality as well as Clinton and Harrison townships because the sewage will have to pass through township pipes.

Even though the sewage system will get some relief, community leaders are asking residents of the affected communities to continue to restrict water usage.

“We are all concerned about the health and well-being of our friends and neighbors, and also in protecting Lake St. Clair and the Clinton River,” Mount Clemens Mayor Barb Dempsey said in a statement. “We are all in this together.”

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