New Macomb Public Works Commissioner, new questions about Fraser sinkhole

Posted at 9:33 AM, Dec 31, 2016
and last updated 2017-01-01 18:39:18-05

This new year means a new public works commissioner for Macomb County and a new approach to the sinkhole crisis in Fraser.  

Candice Miller beat incumbent Tony Marrocco in a bitter campaign.  Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel says, "it's high noon and there's a new sheriff in town" with Miller. In the last eight days of the sinkhole crisis, Marrocco was not here, but on vacation in Florida. 

"This is his legacy, this is on him," Miller said of Marrocco's absence. Hackel and Miller also say Marrocco ordered his staff to have no transition with Miller after Marrocco lost the election.

Officials, including Miller and Hackel, held a press conference on Sunday to update the community on work being done at the Fraser sinkhole.

One of the main topics was cost. Officials say they will work with county and state emergency management teams to arrive at a payment solution for the repairs. County leaders are also hoping to help the homeowners affected by the sinkhole. 

Three homeowners are expected to lose their homes. Nineteen other families have also been evacuated and are being given only limited access to their homes. It is still an open question whether all of their losses and expenses will be covered. 

A homeowner who lives in the next subdivision says a botched road project that damaged his home and foundation cost him more than $70,000 in uncovered losses. 

Miller says she talked yesterday with Governor Rick Snyder on the phone and he's promising state help.  But what form that will take is not known.

A permanent fix is still months away, according to leaders.  

The cause of the sinkhole is an 11-foot sewer main that clogged and collapsed underground along 15 Mile Road between Utica and Hayes on Christmas Eve. We're told the main was built in the early 1970s by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, and bought in 2009 by Macomb County.  

Crews at the scene of the Fraser sinkhole are also calling on a large number of Macomb County residents to conserve their water. 

Homes and businesses that are currently being served by the damaged sewer line are encouraged to curb their water usage to prevent wastewater from going into rivers, streams and basements.

The sewer reportedly serves about 150,000 homes and 300,000 residents in a number of communities including Chesterfield Township, Clinton Township, Fraser, Harrison Township, Lenox Township, Macomb Township, New Haven, Selfridge ANG Base, Shelby Township, Sterling Heights, Utica and Washington Township. 

Right now, crews say they are working to create a more permanent bypass system. 

Macomb County officials have released the following guidelines to help with water conservation: 

In every room that contains plumbing
-Repair leaky faucets, indoors and out.
-When cooking, peel and clean vegetables in a large bowl of water instead of under
running water.
-Fill your sink or basin when washing and rinsing dishes.
-Only run the dishwasher when it's full.
-When buying a dishwasher, select one with a "light-wash" option.
-Only use the garbage disposal when necessary (composting is a great alternative).
- Install faucet aerators.

In the Bathroom
-Take short showers instead of baths.
- Turn off the water to brush teeth, shave and soap up in the shower.
-Fill the sink to shave.
- Repair leaky toilets. Add 12 drops of food coloring into the tank, and if color appears in
the bowl one hour later, your toilet is leaking.
- Install a toilet dam, faucet aerators and low-flow showerheads.

- Run full loads of laundry.
- When purchasing a new washing machine, buy a water saving model that can be
  adjusted to the load size.