Project finished to keep raw sewage out of Clinton River

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Clinton Township — Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller and other officials met Tuesday to commend Clinton Township Supervisor Robert Cannon and the township Board of Trustees for finishing a project aimed at keeping untreated sewage out of the Clinton River.

Miller said the township — after two decades and $30 million — has completed its seventh emergency bypass overflow pump station.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel talks about the flooding that occured on Golden Street Monday night in Clinton Township.

“What the township has done, under the leadership of Supervisor Cannon and others, was to display the fortitude and the political will to get this done. Some problems are so big and so expensive you can’t fix them all at once. But the township kept at it and now should be rightfully proud of what they have accomplished,” Miller said.

Miller, Cannon and other township officials, and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel met in the parking lot of Baker College on Little Mack Road, about a block from Golden Street which, hours earlier had been flooded by four inches of rain.

“This (type of rain) isn’t something you can predict,” Hackel said. “Infrastructure concerns are a national problem; that is why it is so important for citizens, communities, to get in front of the problem so we don’t end up with flooded basements.”

Cannon noted that despite the best efforts, “there is still work that needs to be done.”

 “Golden Street was turned into Golden River for a few hours last night after our township meeting,” Cannon said. “But this morning, it had all drained away.”

Mary Bednar, director of the township’s public works department, said about 100,000 gallons of combined sewage and water overflow was discharged into a sanitary relief system and eventually into the county’s interceptor system to the Clinton River.

Bednar said a relief sewer was not yet fully operational on Golden Street, where major work has recently been completed but “cosmetic” repairs remain on street and landscaping north of 15 Mile.

Officials blamed chronic discharge problems in the past on basement footing drains, some 60 years old, which directly connected to the sanitary sewer system. During significant rainfall, the collection pipes were not large enough, and the excess flows caused basement flooding. As a result, nine sewer overflow pump stations were built in the late 1970s and early 1980s to address basement flooding issues.

“It was a situation that I inherited when I became supervisor,” said Cannon. “Those pump stations were taking the excess sanitary sewage and discharging it into the storm sewers that ultimately drain to Lake St. Clair. It was an unsustainable solution to a problem that exists in Macomb County, but I’m proud we are now able to end that practice.”

In 2000, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issued a violation to Clinton Township for sanitary sewer overflow discharges to the storm system and mandated action to resolve it.

Candice Miller

Miller said Clinton Township and other Macomb County communities are doing their part to keep the environment clean of waste.

“This new system of emergency pumps, relief drains and other infrastructure not only protects our environment, but it also enhances the quality of life for Clinton Township residents and all those who value the Clinton River, Lake St. Clair and our magnificent Great Lakes,” Miller said. “I am proud to stand alongside Clinton Township’s local leaders on a day like today.”

The Clinton Township work is concluding as Miller’s office plans the final upgrade and expansion of the Chapaton Retention Basin in St. Clair Shores. The facility, built in the 1960s, is a holding facility for up to 30 million gallons of sewage during times of heavy rainfall in St. Clair Shores and Eastpointe.

About 7-12 times per year, the facility becomes overwhelmed, allowing a mix of treated sewage and rainwater to spill into the lake.

Clinton Township Supervisor Robert Cannon talks about the flooding last night and the recently completed emergency bypass overflow pump station that will be able to handle the flooding in the future. Listening to him are Mark Hackel, Macomb County Executive and Candice Miller, Public Works Commissioner.

Miller said with completion of the project, the basin's capacity will be roughly doubled, which is forecast to eliminate about 75% of total overflows. Construction is slated to begin in early summer 2020.

“There is no one single cause of pollution to our lake,” Miller said. “… there is no one single solution to ensuring the lake is as clean as it can be.”

Miller said she is also looking forward to partnering with Oakland County on sewer overflow concerns. Oakland’s Kuhn Facility also discharges into the Clinton River when it exceeds capacity.

Miller said the benefits of building overflow systems and keeping discharges out of the Clinton River, and subsequently Lake St. Clair, are evident beyond neighborhoods and residential basements.

“Unlike previous years when Metropolitan Beach had to be close due to water quality, we have not had to close it once this summer,” Miller said.

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