Flooded roads, sewage in our waters

Every year, raw sewage spills all across Michigan — in places like Traverse City, Grayling, Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor, Metro Detroit and more — closing beaches and rivers to swimming and fishing for days and weeks.

Metro Detroit residents are becoming all too familiar with heavy rains overwhelming aging sewer systems and pump houses, flooding communities and closing roads and freeways.

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Fixing our stormwater and wastewater systems

Comments and findings in the American Society of Civil Engineers-Michigan Chapter “2009 Michigan Infrastructure Report Card” shed light on the state’s stormwater and wastewater infrastructure needs.

Stormwater Systems

  1. “There is no consistency in operation or maintenance. Funding for continued maintenance, repair and water quality improvement is inadequate or nonexistent.”
  2. “Detention and retention basins that are intended to help manage the quantity and quality of storm water also tend to be ignored. Consequently, in an operational sense, much of the storm drainage system is ignored until it fails.”
  3. “There exist many established county and intercounty drains, both open and enclosed, that have not been maintained in more than 100 years.”
  4. “There is little consistency in operation or maintenance from one jurisdiction to the next. Funding for continued maintenance, repair and water quality improvement is inadequate or nonexistent.”

Wastewater Systems

  1. “Our wastewater treatment plants are 30 to 40 years old, and sewage collection systems (sewers/pump stations) are typically 50 to 100 years old and greater, pending development and age of the community. For example, over half of the approximately 25,000 miles of sanitary sewers in the state were built before 1970.”
  2. “The aging collection and treatment systems protecting (Michigan’s) waterways are coming to the end or exceeding their planned/expected life cycles. It is clear that significant investment is necessary to sustain meeting our environmental and health requirements mandated by the state’s regulatory agencies and protecting our future generation’s quality of life.”

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