MDEQ: Fraser sinkhole 'underscores importance of infrastructure improvements'

A site near the Clinton River where sewage was being pumped into the river on Dec. 27, 2016. (Nick Monacelli/WDIV)
A site near the Clinton River where sewage was being pumped into the river on Dec. 27, 2016. (Nick Monacelli/WDIV)

FRASER, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Environment Quality released a statement Tuesday about its response to a sinkhole in the city of Fraser emphasizing infrastructure needs.

An interceptor sewage drain buried about 45 feet underground collapsed this past weekend along 15 Mile Road near Hayes Road. At least one home was severely damaged as the ground below it began to sink. Two other homes were put at risk. The neighborhood was evacuated Saturday. 

Video: Fraser sinkhole explanation

DETAILS: What we know about the Fraser sinkhole

Crews had to pump overflowing sewage from the neighborhood into the Clinton River to keep it from overflowing into basements. As of Tuesday morning, the sewage is no longer being pumped into the river.

Fraser sinkhole: Crews work around the clock

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is evaluating the areas where sewage was dumped. Here is the department's statement:

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is working closely with local government officials, engineers, consultants and contractors with a first priority to protect the public health of residents of several communities upstream of the interceptor sewer collapse, and restore as quickly as possible sewer service to its normal function. We recognize and share the concern over discharges of sanitary sewer overflows into the Clinton River and advise all these tactics are used only when necessary to prevent backups of raw sewage into basements upstream of the collapse. Temporary provisions for mitigating  environmental impacts of any discharge of raw sewage into the Clinton River, by skimming solids and providing disinfection, are being considered where practical.  Everyone should understand there should be no problems with routine dry weather sanitary sewer flows as these flows are still being routed through the collapsed interceptor. Rainfall or snow melts, however, will overtax the system as it currently stands. This is the situation now being faced due to the collapse of the Macomb Interceptor Drain near 15 Mile and Garfield Roads.

The unfortunate collapse of the interceptor only underscores the importance of infrastructure improvements detailed in the recently issued 21st Century Infrastructure Report.

Again, our first concern is the health and well-being of residents whose homes are subject to basement backups in the event of rain and snow melts. All should know that MDEQ and local officials are monitoring the situation and taking necessary actions to restore the sewer interceptor system to routine operations as quickly as possible.

You can check out the "21st Century Infrastructure Commission Report" right here. It was published Nov. 30, 2016.

Here is an excerpt: 

Michigan’s infrastructure is aging, and maintenance has been deferred for decades, leaving us in
a state of disrepair. Failing infrastructure interrupts daily life, slows commerce, jeopardizes public
health, pollutes the environment, and damages quality of life.

The report warns "approximately 130,000 (10 percent) of the state’s 1.3 million septic systems are likely experiencing operational problems" and "64 rivers that drain 84 percent of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula tested positive for human sewage."

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