Macomb County will receive $4.5 million to reduce sewage overflows in Lake St. Clair, and Pontiac will receive nearly $1 million to replace lead pipes that have been distributed to various regional agencies to improve water quality.
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow formally announced the federal earmarking as part of Congress’ annual appropriations bill during a news conference Friday at the Chapaton Processing Reservation Basin and Pumping Station on the coast of St. Clair. Representatives of grantees attended the meeting.
County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller said the $4.5 million grant will help fund a $17 million project to reduce Chapaton’s overflow by 30 percent after reducing it by 30 percent in recent years.
Stabenow and Miller said the Chapaton project and others are part of an ongoing regional effort to reduce overflows that cause dirty water and basement flooding.
“Water quality equals quality of life,” Miller said. “The whole mission of this pumping station is about water quality.”
“We’re going to have over $10 million earmarked for projects related to water projects in southeastern Michigan, and I think that’s going to have a big impact,” Stabenow said. “This will help improve our quality of life, improve our ability to enjoy water, and allow us to stay safe at home without having to worry about a major storm.
“We want to swim in our lakes. We get drinking water from our lakes. We want to be able to fish. We want to keep the beaches open. We want to make sure the highway doesn’t flood.”
Stabenow also announced $800,000 for the City of Pontiac to help replace 8,000 lead water lines.
“This funding from Pontiac will allow us to replace the city’s main service lines as quickly as possible so we don’t have another tragedy like we saw in Flint,” said Pontiac Mayor Tim Greimel . “This will allow us to minimise the impact on city taxpayers, thus ensuring our residents and taxpayers can afford it.”
Of the remaining funds, $1 million will go to Macomb Public Works for the Martin Sanitation Diversion Drainage Area south of Macomb to reduce sewage overflow, $2 million will go to the Great Lakes Water Authority to upgrade the Detroit River interceptor, and $970,000 will go to St. Clair used to upgrade the pumping station of its waterworks to increase capacity and provided $1 million to Clay Township for the Clay-Ira (Township) Interceptor to upgrade its water supply infrastructure.
St. Clair County Commission Chairman Jeffrey Bohm said the county must increase water capacity to facilitate development projects.
“It’s really going to help us increase the water capacity,” Bohm said. “We are on the shortlist for a major project expansion project in township (St. Clair County) that will require up to 700,000 gallons of water per day. This will help secure some major investments.”
The Chapaton project will involve installing rubber weirs, which Miller calls “rubber bladders,” to further control the flow of water into the lake.
Chapaton handles water and sewers from Eastpointe and most of St. Clair Shores, while Martin Basin provides the same service to Roseville and the rest of St. Clair Shores.
Those two sites and one along Warren’s Red Run Drain are the only places in the county where sewage overflows have occurred, because older communities don’t have separate water and sewer systems, while newer ones do, Miller said. Separating the system on the St. Clair coast would cost $400 million, she said.
The county’s sewage overflow polluted not only Lake St. Clair, but also downstream areas, including the Detroit River and Lake Erie in Michigan and Ohio.
“I don’t know why Ohio didn’t sue us,” said Miller, a member of the Great Lakes Water Commission.
Chapaton’s $4.5 million provides enough funding for public works contractors to begin work on the project by the end of April, officials said. It takes approximately 1-½ years to complete.
The Martin project likley will begin in early fall and will also take about 1-1/2 years to complete, Miller said.
Miller is seeking additional funding from state and county stakes in the federal U.S. Relief Program Fund.
“If it gets worse, we will guarantee” any remaining funds needed, which will be repaid by taxpayers, she said. “As things stand, it doesn’t look like we have to. But we’re going. We’re going to fix these things.”
On a related issue, Suzanne Coffey, interim chief executive of the Great Lakes Water Authority, told reporters after the meeting that a study on the July 2021 Gross Point basement flooding should be completed in about a month, but there are obvious reasons for that. Just too much rain. system. She noticed an 8-inch drop during the rain.
“Eight inches is too much,” she said. “It’s a climate change issue.”