Michigan Sewage spill closes Lake

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Sewage spill closes Lake St. Clair beaches June 27, 2000, 4:02 AM

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. (AP) -- The three main beaches on Macomb County's Lake St. Clair shoreline remain closed Tuesday after a weekend sewage spill in Pontiac sent raw waste flowing down the Clinton River.

Water test results Tuesday were expected to show the degree of pollution at Metro Beach in Harrison Township and Memorial Park and Blossom Heath beaches in St. Clair Shores.

"As an effort to protect the public health, we've closed the beaches until we determine the impact," county environmental health director Elwin Coll told The Macomb Daily.

Critics say metropolitan Detroit is ill-equipped for heavy rains because of filling in of wetlands and combined storm and sanitary sewers. They say the result is sewage contamination and erosion.

"Probably the best thing we could do to prevent this is to protect and restore wetlands. We've wiped out most of our wetlands, and we're finding these man-made improvements designed to cope with it just aren't doing the job," Jack Smiley of the Rouge River protection group Friends of the Rouge told the Detroit Free Press.

After a 3.5-inch rain Saturday night, Pontiac experienced two sewage overflows Sunday morning. A sewer system pump station failed, and raw sewage was pumped into the river so the station could be repaired, said Oakland County health official Bob Long.

The heavy rains caused a second overflow Sunday morning at the Pontiac sewage treatment plant. That sewage was treated with chlorine before being discharged into the river.

The Macomb County beaches were closed at noon Sunday and the Oakland County Health Division issued a warning telling people downstream from Pontiac to avoid contact with the river.

"It's sad that we can't take our family and children to the lake like we did when we were kids," Vicky McSorley of Roseville told The Detroit News


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), June 27, 2000

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