OH, Blissfield warned of river pollution

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

May 24, 2000

BLISSFIELD The city's wastewater-treatment plant temporarily shut down yesterdayafter a broken pipe allowed nearly 500,000 gallons of untreated water and raw sewage to flow into the River Raisin.

The Lenawee County Health Department issued a health advisory to residents, asking them to avoid contact with the river between Blissfield and Deerfield.

It could be days before the river's bacterial count is safe for human contact, said Michael Kight, Lenawee County environmental health director. People with low immune systems and open sores could be at a greater health risk if exposed to the contaminated water, he said.

Magnifying the problem is the recent flooding from heavy rains. Flooding has caused higher-than-normal run-off from county drains, fields, and other areas to feed directly into the river.

"After storm episodes, we see spikes in bacteria levels in the water,'' Mr. Kight said. "People should stay off the waters for about a week after a major storm.''

"I think 500,000 sounds like a lot, but the river flows are up right now,'' said Linn Duling, a district supervisor with Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality.

"It wouldn't be all that much in the big picture,'' he allowed.

A seal on an electric pump pipe at the Blissfield plant broke about 1:15 a.m., flooding the basement, village Administrator Jim Won acott said.

By about 2:30 a.m., crews had emergency gasoline pumps working. But untreated water continued to flow into the river for about eight hours because attachments used to pump sewage into treatment ditches were not available.

Mr. Wonacott expected normal operations by today.

"It couldn't have been prevented. We can put it back together in such a way to prevent it from happening but I don't think there's any thing we could have done to prevent it," he said.

Mr. Wonacott said heavy rains had diluted the water so that about 80,000 gallons of the outflow was raw sewage.

A lightning strike in April shut down the plant for several hours. Mr. Wonacott said this is the first time in the six years he has been administrator that a mechanical problem interrupted operations.


-- Doris (number9@mindspring.com), May 25, 2000

Moderation questions? read the FAQ