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Wayne, Macomb counties top 'Dirty Dozen' list of Michigan's largest sewage polluters

Thursday, May 12, 2011   (0 Comments)
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Nearly 15 gallons of raw, foul or partially treated sewage has made its way into Michigan waterways so far this year, according to a new report, much of it in Metro Detroit.

Wayne and Macomb counties topped the "Dirty Dozen" list of sewage polluters released Wednesday by the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association.  Oakland County wasn't too far behind.

By far the worst offender, Wayne County allegedly dumped more than 13 billion gallons of sewer discharge, with most ending up in the Rouge and Detroit rivers. Macomb County placed a distant second with around 1 billion gallons and Oakland County made the list at no. 8 with 25.7 million gallons.

County officials tell the Detroit Free Press that the report, which is based on data from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, is misleading because a large amount of the discharge is partially treated sewage that meets federal standards but is released when heavy rains cause retention basins to overflow.

"What MITA did, they literally took all of the overflows reported, in compliance with the Clean Water Act or not, and lumped them into one category, so it gives the reader a false sense of exactly what's transpired," Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner John McCulloch told the newspaper. "We appropriately treat our combined storm water and sewage and meet Clean Water Act standards."

Representatives for MITA, a construction trade association representing roughly 600 Michigan companies, say the report is meant to raise awareness for reduced infrastructure investment that might otherwise help counties fund environmental projects to avoid such discharges.

"People can't help but take notice when our roads and bridges are in bad shape, but when a sewer pipe is leaking underground, it’s out of sight, out of mind," Keith Ledbetter, director of legislative affairs at MITA, said in a released statement. "This head-in-the-sand mentality has led public officials to eliminate infrastructure funding and cast a blind eye at the ongoing pollution of our state’s trademark fresh waters."

Check out the full report here for a list of specific discharges by county.

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