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E. coli hot spots found in Warren

Human or animal waste may be draining into Red Run Drain

WARREN, Mich. – Macomb County Public Works (MCPW) Commissioner Candice Miller discussed details Wednesday about the two E.coli bacteria hot spots found in the Red Run Drain in Warren.

The E.coli found is so high it is off the scale of the MCPW lab's testing equipment, Miller's office said. 

"We found two hots spots -- 2,400 counts, and that is the maximum that the testing will go to. To put it in context, if you have a count of 300 you're closing beaches," said Miller. "These are literally off the charts."

The hot spots were found in Warren, but the drain in question empties into the Red Run just over the city border in Sterling Heights, Miller's office said. 

Kayakers first spotted a sheen on the Red Run Drain in Sterling Heights. Investigators tracked the sheen to the hot spots. 

One of the hot spots was found at 14 Mile and Hayes roads while the other was found near Schoenherr Road just north of I-696. 

Miller said some of the drains have not been inspected in decades, "if ever."

"As we find these various spots we're going to fix them," she said. 

Miller said her team believes they know what's causing the E. coli, but they're not certain. 

"It goes into the Red Run Drain, which goes into the Clinton River, which goes into Lake St. Clair," she said.

The E. coli is either human waste or animal waste. Miller said it's unclear how long the E. coli has been draining into the Red Run, but she guesses it could be decades. 

"We're looking at a couple of other spots in the county, too, but nothing as high as this," she said. 

It is possible an animal is in the drain and causing the contamination. 

Miller said an investigation continues.

Meanwhile, the commissioner said she has not received reports of injuries or illness. 

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts released the following statement:

"Yesterday afternoon (12/19/17) Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller contacted my office and indicated that during inspection of County storm drains, two locations at connections from the City of Warren were found to have high coliform counts.

"I immediately directed our city staff including the Public Service Director, the City Engineer, and the head of our wastewater treatment operations to investigate the source of these high coliform levels.

"Crews have already been out today inspecting these storm sewers and taking samples for analysis.

"Let me stress that this is totally unrelated to the drinking water supply and that our drinking water supply is completely safe.  Furthermore, it does not appear that these high coliform counts pose any imminent environmental threat.  It should also be noted that coliform bacteria is found in the intestines of all warm-blooded animals and that these high counts could be the result of wildlife in the area."

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