Oct 21, 2019

11 Million Gal of Sewage Pours into Michigan’s Rivers

Heavy & consistent rainfall caused about 11 million gal of sewage & storm water to overflow combined sewer & pour into two of Michigan’s rivers.

Heavy & consistent rainfall caused about 11 million gal of sewage & storm water to overflow combined sewer & pour into two of Michigan’s rivers.

Approximately 11 million gal of sewage and storm water poured into the Grand and Red Cedar rivers, according to Lansing State Journal.

10 million gal poured into the Grand River and roughly 470,000 gal into the Red Cedar River. This does not include the 25 million gal of sewage and storm water that went into the Grand River and 1.9 million gal that went into the Red Cedar River after more than 2 in. of rain from Oct. 2 storms.  

Bill Brunner, plant engineer at Lansing's waste water treatment facility, told Lansing State Journal that during heavy rainfall, the combined water and sewer pipes cannot carry any more water and the excess is channeled into the rivers. Consistent rain for two weeks has led to more water going into the pipes.

The most recent combined sewer overflow began at 8 a.m., Oct. 11, and stopped around 1 a.m., Oct. 12. 

Lansing's sewer system has previously had issues with sewage dumping into the rivers.

The city continues to work on separating the storm sewer system from the sanitary sewer system to stop sewage from overflowing into the rivers, but completing the project could take another 15 to 20 years.

"It's something we're trying to eliminate," Brunner said.

Dan Beauchamp, Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) sewer engineering specialist, has listed Lansing’s sewer system among the top three leakiest combined sewer systems in Michigan eight times since 2008 in his annual reports, according to Lansing State Journal.

DEQ records show the agency fined Lansing $28,750 in 2004 because of excessive overflows in its sanitary sewer system. The city's separated sanitary system overflowed 17 times in 2004, spilling at least 9 million gal. These overflows were mostly caused by heavy rainfall.

Sanitary overflows have improved but not yet been eliminated. There were six sanitary sewer overflows in 2018, resulting in approximately 38.5 million gal spilled.

EPA reports state combined sewer overflows are a "priority water pollution concern" for 860 municipalities in the U.S., most of which are in the Northeast and Great Lakes regions. 

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