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Kayaking Red Run

August 1, 2011

Kayaking 10 miles upon the Red Run in Warren, Michigan on Saturday July 30, 2011
Overview map created with Garmin GPS 60 and Pentax Optio on a StickyPod.

Red Run Kayak Route Map

Red Run Kayak Route Map

I did something I thought I would never do. Kayak the Red Run in my backyard
from Dequindre Road an entire 5 miles downstream to the Maple Lane golf course
and back another 5 miles against current. An amazing amount of money
(100’s of millions $$$) has been spent to update waterway infrastructure lately.
Is the Red Run really clean enough to convince government officials
to “suit up” and paddle alongside me ???

Red Run Kayak  Dequindre 1

Red Run Kayak Dequindre 1

Red Run Kayak Dequindre 2

Red Run Kayak Dequindre 2

The claims we read in the newspapers make everything sound wonderful
and beautiful on the Clinton River. Wastewater services use
combined sewer overflow (CSO) retention treatment basins (RTBs)
that operate when heavy rain storms overload the original sewer systems.
The retention basins prevent combined sewer overflow from immediately
reaching waterways. Water is captured, transported, and treated.
When storms subside it is discharged from the retention treatment basins.
Rentention treatment basins operate only 15% to 20% of the year.
The remaining time, RTBs are on standby ready to go into operation.
In reality – storage capacity was exceeded on numerous occasions
and retention treatment basins discharged treated water often.

An illicit connection is the inappropriate connection that allows
discharge of contaminated water to the storm sewer
— i.e. like plumbing fixtures discharging to the storm sewer.
Overland discharges/runoff to storm sewers, surface water and
ground water also play a key role. These pollutants shouldn’t
“have to be directed away” from the creeks, streams, rivers and lakes.
They never should have happened in the first place.
NO permit for occupancy should have been given.
Municipalities charge permit fees for electrical work, building a storage shed,
erecting a fence, installing a central air conditioning unit outside your home,
etc., etc., etc. ad nauseum. WHY did anyone “sign off”  on a building
that had illicit connections and grant an occupancy permit ?

Local governments created their own monster by not cracking the whip
from day one of the Clean Water Act of 1972 mandating action to eliminate
sources of water pollution and resource conservation.
Illicit Discharge Elimination Program in Macomb County has permanently
removed 77 million gallons of sewage from waterways in the last decade
by hunting down illicit sewer connections – at what cost to taxpayers ?
It should have been nipped in the bud to begin with.
Someone looked the other way or just didn’t care back then.

Red Run Kayak Mound Road

Red Run Kayak Mound Road

Once systems are overloaded, the wastewater has nowhere to go
and backs up in the pipes, into sewer services, and if severe enough,
into local homes and businesses causing property damage.

*Sewage water entered my basement thru the floor drains several times
over the years as well as my neighbors house The McGuckin family .*

Excess flow in the sewer system not only poses overcapacity issues,
but it also increases unnecessary costs for transporting and treating wastewater.

All discharge from the Kuhn retention center is screened, settled and disinfected,
to reduce pollutants prior to release into the Red Run drain since construction
finished in 2006. BUT the Red Run in late July 2011 doesn’t smell
“fresh”, “clean”, or “natural”, as I kayaked a 10 mile loop between
Dequindre to Maple Lawn and back again .
The claim is that ALL  flow that enters the Red Run Drain is disinfected
with sodium hypochlorite, which is similar to swimming pool chlorine.
Residents that walk along the Red Run near Dequindre and Ryan Roads
often smell unpleasant odors especially on those 95 degree days.

I chose an extremely sunny day to kayak the route
– a day or two after a major rainfall event –
to ensure the e-coli counts had decreased,
burned off by the radiation from ultraviolet rays.

Taxpayers fund Infrastructure – thru Federal and State and local taxes.
Center Line recently spent about $8.8 million on pollution
abatement on six projects that included manhole rehabilitation,open-cut repair,
sectional and full length cured-in-place lining and sewer pipe grouting.
Macomb County Public Works Office has also spent another $7 million
improving the pumping system and treatment process at Chapaton.
Money, $$$ dollars, was spent constructing a 3 million gallon canal next to the
28-million Chapaton treatment basin to hold the permitted
and disinfected discharges before they are released into Lake St. Clair.
St. Clair Shores, Eastpointe and Roseville spent more than $80 million
in the past decade constructing pollution abatement projects under Macomb County
Public Works Commissioner Anthony V. Marroco.
The Fraser Beacon Lift Station was a $13 million expenditure
for a high-capacity gravity system to avoid routinely dumping UN-treated sewage
into Lake St. Clair during heavy rains.

A large $5.1-million project is underway to reduce
pollution and sedimentation in the Red Run Drain
the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair.

Somehow I doubt my phone will ringing off the hook to escort any
government officials to paddle alongside me upon the Red Run
from the Oakland County border at Dequindre Road to Lake St. Clair.
This is the Clinton River branch of the watershed that just
isn’t – glamourous, wonderful , beautiful or great smelling.
I don’t live on a flood plain, my basement walls and floor
are usually dry, and I don’t have a sump pump.
When Oakland/Macomb officials decide to dump massive amounts of water
into the Red Run after a hard rain – the sewers back up in my basement drains
with smelly, nasty, water that doesn’t appear to be treated whatsoever.
In fact,
the restoration company that came to my home
after the May storms had to decontaminate everything.

It seems quite odd to me that the City of Warren would build a Community Center
alongside the Red Run. Outdoor water recreation for kayaks, canoes, paddlesports
within this waterway doesn’t appear to be in the design plans.
It’ll be a good long while until I paddle this section again.
People need to prove to me the odors are permanently gone,
and physically show me the water is okay by dunking their body in it.

P.S. – Got comments, please post your response


From → Kayaking, Videos

  1. Nancy permalink

    I thoroughly enjoy yaking/canoeing the “Clinton River” for many (15+?) miles upstream from where the Red Run Drain merges in. I don’t think it’s fair to use the name “Clinton River” so broadly to the general public. It is misleading to those who might also enjoy the scenery and wildlife if offers us plus sometimes a serene ride, and often times thrilling ride – a little bit for everyone.

  2. It’s perfectly fair for some “”checks and balances”” of the media hype machine .
    The Clinton River watershed covers approximately 760 square miles in 4 Southeast Michigan counties – about 75% of that is in Macomb County –
    Warren is Michigan’s 3rd largest city and the Red Run flows right thru it.
    The Red Run dumps into the Clinton River and then Lake St. Clair
    – an international body of water shared by 2 countries.

  3. Kim Zukowski permalink

    Red Run has cleaned up since I was a teenager in the 60’s. Between Mound and Vandyke there is much wildlife. Two types of Heron feed on the large carp, and kingfishers on the minnows. Painted turtles in abundance as well as large snappers. Both lay many eggs each summer. Muskrat and woodchuck abound. A red fox raised her two kits along the banks several years ago, feeding on the woodchucks and the occasional duck. This year a doe raised two fawns in the woods on either side of the railroad bridge. The thistle growing on the banks supports a large number of beautiful goldfinches. And let’s not forget the magnificent hawks that live there too. The redwing blackbirds nest in abundance on the banks and will become very angry if you come too close to their nests. Behind the credit union on Chicago Road (next to the railroad tracks) is a wonderfully secluded natural pond (I’m glad they saved it when building the credit union. I personally stopped them from throwing their construction trash in the pond) that is full of turtles, frogs and very large koi fish which the heron also feed upon. In the adjacent small woodlot is where the deer raised her young.

    • The “””catch”” with anything living in or near the water is that it gets violently ripped away by the heavy current approximately 10 times per year when the Kuhn Retention Basin overflows.
      No fish, turtle or macroinvertabate can withstand the huge volume of water rushing past. The animals and insects get flushed downstream leaving the waters barren and lifeless.
      The waters rise almost 20 feet within a few – hours – as is clearly shown on the USGS gauges and graphs. It is not a gradual process, it is indeed a stormdrain channelized by current.

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