Skip to content

Oakland County vs Macomb County

March 6, 2012

BEFORE you read the article below :

Realize the Red Run drain is a STORM DRAIN for rainstorms/thunderstorms

It is NOT a 100% raw sewage portal spewing waste between counties

https://redrundrain.wordpress.com/2011/09/13/s-e-michigan-stormdrain-overflow-events/

 

The Daily Tribune
(dailytribune.com)
News

SELWESKI: When will Oakland admit polluting Macomb waters?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

John McCulloch, who carries the impressive title of Water Resources Commissioner in Oakland County, wrote an Op-Ed piece about a week ago for Patch.com, a fledgling online news service that specializes in folksy neighborhood news. It wasn’t so much a news column as a chest thumping, piece of PR puffery.

Which is fine. No harm done. Except that McCulloch wrote lies — let’s just politely call them mistruths — within the body of that piece.

What he refuses to admit is that Oakland County nearly a decade ago spent $144 million on a four-year, clean-water construction project that did not work.

McCulloch, who is basically the county drain commissioner, gave readers a highly misleading description of what the Twelve Towns Drain was and is, now that it has been expanded.

Twelve Towns, a massive sewage retention basin in Madison Heights now known as the George W. Kuhn Drain, routinely dumps wastewater into the Red Run Drain in Warren. The waste flows from there through the Clinton River and into Lake St. Clair.

And we’re not talking about buckets or barrels. We’re talking about waste that is measured in the hundreds of millions of gallons.

In his Patch puff piece, McCulloch talks about Oakland County as a place with “shimmering lakes,” a virtual “water wonderland.” What he doesn’t mention is that, during rainstorms, the human waste from 14 Oakland County cities is sifted, chlorinated — and then spewed into Macomb County’s waterways.

Yet, McCulloch insists that his department has nothing to do with the summer ritual of beach closings on Lake St. Clair.

The huge pipe that pumps the brown water into the Red Run is conveniently located underneath Dequindre Road, near 12 Mile, so that it never touches Oakland’s “pristine” world.

In the past, McCulloch has called the GWK Drain a “remarkable achievement.” His staff has said that the project resulted in “significantly” fewer sewer overflows.

Oh, really?

The GWK project was completed in the middle of 2005, which means a year-to-year comparison is difficult. According to Macomb County Health Department documents, in the 2004-06 time period, the drain discharged roughly 500 million to 700 million gallons a year. It experienced overflows into the Red Run an average of seven times annually.

Compare that to last year: The GWK overflowed 15 times and let loose 3.2 billion gallons of wastewater. That’s billion, with a B. To put that into perspective, 3.2 billion gallons is approximately the equivalent of 200,000 backyard swimming pools.

The GWK performed fairly well during the drought of 2010, but in 2009 it discharged 1.3 billion gallons of treated waste into Macomb’s waterways. In 2008, the figure was 1.7 billion.

Clearly, the GWK has not reduced the amount of pollution (my word) it’s dumping into Lake St. Clair. In fact, the figures for the last few years are disturbing.

In his PR piece, McCulloch claims that, “due to the diligence and hard work of our highly skilled employees,” overflows from the GWK have been reduced by 875 million gallons. How’s that? Well, he doesn’t explain what he’s talking about. That’s because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Sure, the GWK may use state-of-the-art sewer technology, as the drain commissioner says, but if he’s so proud, why does he offer misleading statistics to address the main issue — the sewage capacity at the GWK?

With the help of Patch’s no-editing approach, McCulloch tells readers that the drain’s capacity rose from 62 million gallons in 1972 to 124 million gallons today. Disingenuously, he goes back 40 years — when Oakland County was a much different place — to make his case.

Why doesn’t he tell the taxpayers that, for a price of $144 million, the capacity was boosted by 30 million gallons? That’s not much in a major metropolitan area.

Consider this: During a series of rainstorms last May, GWK reached capacity and dumped 1.3 billion gallons of treated sewage into Macomb County over a two-day time period. Those diligent workers at GWK were discharging at a rate of 24 million gallons an hour.

A few years ago, a miffed McCulloch rounded up a bunch of officials from across the region and they marched into The Macomb Daily — impeccably dressed in suits and ties — to straighten us (particularly me) out about our stories and commentaries indicating that Oakland County is a leading source of pollution in Lake St. Clair.

As the discussion with the paper’s top editors began, it became abundantly clear that McCulloch’s rhetorical weapon of choice is a mix of arrogance and condescension.

He said that The Macomb Daily simply doesn’t understand that Oakland County does such a fine job of filtering and chlorinating its sewage that the end product is fully compliant with state law and, in fact, is cleaner than the water downstream.

So, the implication was that frequent complaints from Macomb County officials about continuing overflows at GWK are largely irrelevant. The drain has no connection to Lake St. Clair beach closings.

Well, which is it, Mr. Drain Commissioner:

Should Macomb County residents be hoodwinked by your claims of fewer overflows, or should we buy your argument that more overflows don’t matter?

Chad Selweski can be reached at chad.selweski@macombdaily.com.

You can read his blog at macombpolitics.blogspot.com.

Advertisements
Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: