MI, HEALTH HAZARD: Adrian Residents warned to avoid river

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By Dalondo Moultrie Daily Telegram Staff Writer BLISSFIELD  An advisory issued Tuesday for Lenawee County residents to avoid physical contact with the River Raisin between Deerfield and Blissfield remains in effect today. It is possible that the rivers bacterial content will remain dangerously high for several days, according to the advisory released by Michael Kight, environmental director of the Lenawee County Health Departments environmental health division. Just as a precaution, the prudent thing for anyone would be to stay away from the river about a week to 10 days, Kight said. I think the best advice is to avoid physical contact with the river. The problem began at about 2 a.m. Tuesday when a pipe burst in the waste water treatment plant. Water flooded the basement of the plant. Officials were notified, and they acted to stop the problem, said Rick Frantz, supervisor at Blissfields waste water treatment plant. A pipe failure caused the pumps to fail, Frantz said. We got the troops rounded up and we got everything going. By 10 oclock we had everything buttoned up so we could be pollution-free. The sewage was pumped into the basement of the plant. In efforts to correct the problem, the waste is being pumped into another area, said Blissfield Village Administrator Jim Wonacott. The first 45 minutes it was flooding the plant, Wonacott said. We had the bypass pumps installed immediately after. Unfortunately, we had to bypass directly into the river. From 10 a.m. to probably about noon (Wednesday), then its being bypassed into our treatment ditches. The treatment ditches  or oxidation ditches  are the main treatment points. Thousands of gallons of untreated water were released into the river. Only about 15 percent of the water was made up of raw sewage, Wonacott said. Due to recent heavy rains in the area, the magnitude of the spill was diminished, said Linn Duling, Michigan Department of Environ-mental Quality district supervisor for the Surface Water Quality division in the Jackson District office. They estimated about 500,000 gallons was released into the river, Duling said. Right now the rivers are running high because of the rains. That would dilute this raw sewage so it would make it less hazardous. The impact of the spill was felt downstream in the village of Deerfield. Deerfield extracts water from the river and processes it for drinking. The water from the river originating in Blissfield takes about a day to reach Deerfield. Officials in Deerfield took steps to ensure the problem has little effect on the village, said Jim Hyder, Deerfield village superintendent. Village authorities plan to let the waste run downstream past Deerfield. Usually Deerfield is 24 hours downstream, Hyder said. What we do is fill our plant up. We have the capacity to wait it out. In the meantime, the waters will be tested periodically to determine when the river is safe again, Kight said. First of all, the river is not a good place to be swimming, he said. What we do with a discharge of this type is monitor the waters. It looked like they had this problem contained pretty quickly. They had a good response. Health risk factors are minimal, Wonacott said. It would be wise for county residents to take precautionary measures if they come in contact with the water. If you had a depressed immune system or open sores and you fell into the river, it might be wise to call your familys health physician, Wonacott said.


-- Doris (number9@mindspring.com), May 24, 2000

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