Macomb County sewer system keeping up with rain as officials worry about dumping sewage

Posted at 4:36 PM, Feb 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-07 17:50:36-05

Heavy rains across metro Detroit are causing anxiety for officials in Macomb County.

They’re worried how the sewer system there will react to even more pressure.

They are urging residents to limit water use, especially until the rains stop.

We just visited the command center at the Department of Public Works.

The system is holding, but only if folks pull back on water usage.

Commissioner Candice Miller gave us a tour of the basement command center where officials can monitor the sewer levels 24 hours a day.

Things are holding steady at this hour, partly because of a cushion thanks to weekend conservation.

But too much pressure could cause a worst-case scenario - an emergency sewage discharge into the Clinton River. 

This all stems from the Fraser sinkhole and its cause: a ruptured sewer line. 

Eleven county communities and 300,000 residents are being asked to pull back on water, not only on rainy days like today, but for the next month - until a bypass is in place.

Once that bypass is in place, long-term solutions will be drawn up.

But, until then, Miller is hoping to prevent what she calls an environmental disaster, the dumping of tons of sewage into a major source of drinking water.

Miller says any limiting of water, from running showers to toilet flushing to using paper plates to limit dishwasher usage, can prevent the scale from tipping.