Mar 05, 2007

Michigan County Evacuates After Wastewater Pipe Break

Residential evacuations were ordered in Muskegon Township, Mich., after a break in a 66-inch pipe that carries all of the county’s wastewater. Some businesses also had to stop operating until further notice.

According to WWMT TV/DT, a shelter was made available to the 40 or 50 residents of the homes affected by the evacuation. County health officials were called in to assess which residents could safely return to their homes.

Residents were urged not to have contact with the water until the situation has been remedied. The break released sewage into Muskegon Lake, Mona Lake, and Bear Lake in addition to surrounding tributaries.

Steve Barnard, the safety and technical coordinator for the Muskegon County Waste Water Management System, told WWMT TV/DT that officials are trying to limit the sewage diversion to Muskegon Lake. If raw sewage were not allowed to flow into the lakes, then it might back up into people’s homes.

Raw sewage contains bacteria and viruses and could be a huge health threat. Individuals are warned not to have contact with the water until health officials have a chance to determine that the water is safe.

The Muskegon County Health Department predicts that it will take at least three days to fix the problem. There is currently no construction in the area, and officials are not sure what caused the break.