Residents outraged as permit approval allows Grosse Pointe Park to dump waste into Detroit River

Some Metro Detroiters are expressing their anger as a permit approval will allow Grosse Pointe Park to dump waste into the Detroit River.

Jefferson-Chalmers Water Project leader Jay Juergensen said residents had hoped to collaborate with neighboring Grosse Pointe Park on solutions to address heavy rainfall and sewage issues. However, instead of pursuing such collaboration, Juergensen stated that EGLE (Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy) approved a permit for Grosse Pointe Park to construct an emergency relief sewer capable of releasing human waste upstream into the Detroit River.

“We were aware of Grosse Pointe Park’s proposal for an extreme emergency relief valve permit, but there was no opportunity for public comment, no public hearing, and no chance to review the draft permit,” Juergensen explained.

John Myers, a resident of the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood since 1994, expressed his dissatisfaction with allocating $3 million to a solution that he believes is not effective. He suggested investing the funds in a regional fix that would prevent sewage from entering the Great Lakes and protect basements from water damage, thereby addressing the problem more effectively.

Requests for additional information about the project to representatives from EGLE and Grosse Pointe Park did not receive a response. However, it is understood that the valve would only be utilized during extreme weather events. Juergensen expressed concerns about the discharge from a similar outfall in the past decade, despite the valve’s intended limited operation during specific instances, approximately twice a summer.

Juergensen, who has been involved in addressing significant water issues such as Superstorm Sandy relief, remains hopeful that a solution benefiting the entire region can be achieved. Efforts are underway to collaborate with city leaders and state lawmakers on this matter.

“Over the past several years, the City of Grosse Pointe Park has worked with the State and Federal government to explore potential upgrades with its sanitary and storm water services. One of these upgrades is the EERV Extreme Emergency Release Valve which will allow Grosse Pointe Park to combine its sanitary flow into its stormwater flow at the Patterson Park Storm Station. We have a construction permit and have turned in standard operating procedures to EGLE for regulatory review.

This process has been rigorous and the Grosse Pointe Park has worked closely with EGLE to answer questions and taken all reasonable steps to assure that the EERV system complied with State and Federal law. We are aware of some misunderstanding of what the EERV system will accomplish and we take this matter seriously. The City of Grosse Pointe Park has worked with EGLE for years on this project and has gone above and beyond EGLE’s request for due diligence and information to upgrade our system.

Currently there are 40 outfalls similar to the EERV that lead to Lake St Clair and the Detroit River. While we hope to never turn this on, it is here to safely protect residents and downstream residents, just as the 40 others do.’

Nick Sizeland, Grosse Pointe Park -- May 30, 2023

About the Author:

Pamela Osborne is thrilled to be back home at the station she grew up watching! You can watch her on Local 4 News Sundays and weeknights. Pamela joined the WDIV News Team in February 2022, after working at stations in Ohio and Pennsylvania.