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S.E. Michigan stormdrain overflow events

September 13, 2011

Bad public relations from various municipal entities
are to blame for people’s perception of stormdrain
overflow events
occurring in South East Michigan.

On Tuesday, September 13, 2011 I spoke at length
with an environmental engineer concerning discharge
into the Red Run, which flows into the Clinton River.

People have been “conditioned” over the past 50 years
to think only 2 types of water exist :
a.) sewage
b.) drinking water

The reality of it all involves simple rainfall;
– which many, many people simply forget about most days.
A gravity fed system of drainage exists via pipes to
move that rain water off the parking lots, roads, etc.
No one wants a small pond at the local mall parking lot.

It’s simply not true to think that sewage ,
even partially-treated sewage;
gets discharged from retention facilities.
The stormwater simply flows in, via gravity,
controlled by weirs, and gets chlorinated.
That’s basically it – little else happens.
When the retention basin is full, the underground gates open,
letting millions of gallons of water into the Red Run.
The process repeats until the thunderstorms end.
Period. End of story. Simple. Done.

YET – where does that “smell” come from ????
Why do folks say the water is “dirty”, “unclean”,etc. ???

The crazy, imperfect, maddening evolution of cities simply exists;
– with all the faults, deviations, and exceptions.
Some not-so-clean water does enter the Storm Drain System.
A diligent and ongoing effort is made to track these “leaks”.
Macomb County completed more than 800 investigations in 2010
for their IDEP (Illicit Discharge Elimination Program).

I too – have been guilty of misusing the word “sewage”;
in a careless manner, throwing it about haphazardly.
Water takes on a variety of “definitions” in modern society
and words invoke powerful emotional responses.

Attempting to minimize the usage of the words
— sewer and sewage —
while amplifying the conscious use of
— rain water — storm water — will help
modify connotations and perceptions.

In 2011, people shouldn’t walk down a modern paved suburban street,
and point to a metal drain calling it a sewer grate.
No one today sweeps sewage off the streets into the drains.
It’s high time to update the media profile of it all.

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  1. Oakland County vs Macomb County « Red Run

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