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Perplexing volume Red Run Drain

October 14, 2016

The open channel Red Run Drain starts at Dequindre Road in Warren, slightly north of 13 Mile Road, across the street from the Red Oaks Dog Park.  The hard part is determining “what” exactly is measured or reported on the Department Environmental Quality webpage.  Is it strictly the volume of screened and sprayed sewage overflow (CSO) – or – everything from the GWK Retention Basin (RTB)  outlet into the ditch ?  A computer model was created a while back


It is easy to see multiple items in red print such as the Henry Graham Drain, North Drain Pipe, Pollution Control Facility Outlet Weir, South Drain Pipe and Walker Relief Drain. All of these empty onto a concrete slab at elevation of 597 ft above sea level for the open ditch. The bottom of the Ryan Road bridge is about 620 ft,  and the Red Run has kissed it a few times in recent years. The Red Run is often 20 feet deep and 120 feet wide along its 8 mile long path to the Clinton River.

GWK Basin diagram.png

It’s easy to see how the drains match the natural flow of the creeks and streams

Flood Map Oakland Macomb.png

Now lets see what the DEQ webpage reported back in 2011 for the Red Run Drain. Notice each event is labeled as a combined sewer overflow (CSO). Warren has its own WWTP and it is completely separate and independent of the SouthOaklandCountySewageDisposalSystem (SOCSDS) or 12TownsDrain


Lately everything is reported as a RTB event for the GWK Retention Basin, but I saw a report from the GLWA saying the “CSO discharge was going to be separate from the RTB”. This is all a bit perplexing to me and I’m sure most mayors + city council members don’t get it either.  Surely the sewer charges and stormwater charges for the cities involved are MEASURED by some gauges, calculations, procedure, etc. ?  How much volume is too much for the Red Run Drain to handle ? Open areas keep getting developed with more and more runoff existing today, then existed 10 years ago.  Is it all just a good guess based on a model with many assumptions, caveats, constraints, surrounding it ?


Basin Discharge CSO.png

It would appear a large amount of stormwater water volume does NOT go through the screening area and bleach spray process as it is just rain off parking lots, roofs, streets, etc.

North and South Drains.png

Forty-two major storm drains were disconnected and reconnected from 12 different towns to the North and South drains. ANY pollutants on the ground, concrete, blacktop, pavement, parking lots, industrial facilities, or items poured into a storm drain; ends up in the Red Run Drain – untreated.

In the past, existing storm drains discharging into the basin were removed and rerouted, providing more volume to control combined sewer flows. System storage was increased by 30 million gallons to 124 million gallons.  During a prolonged rain storm, the basin will fill via gravity flow and jump over the weir continually, until the storm stops. Almost all of 14 communities over a drainage area of 24,500 acres – are upstream of the Red Run Drain.

Determining exactly what the water volume flow coming out into the open channel ditch into Warren is a perplexing question. Rainfall has tremendous variability , involving Intensity and Duration.  One side of a neighborhood could get hammered hard while the other side merely got a few sprinkles. Perhaps the newer technology SCADA equipment – (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) will aid in getting a more accurate handle on it all.

How much more water can the Red Run Drain handle before property damage occurs to residents of Warren and people living downstream on the Clinton River  ?  Honestly I don’t know the answer to that question – but I’ll continue to pursue it.

The Macomb County Drain Commissioner will have a lot to deal with come 2017


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  1. Annie permalink

    I frequently visit the Red Run by 15 Mile & Dodge Park. I find it to be a hidden treasure amidst the suburban sprawl. I enjoy what it offers in terms of nature and wildlife and I am amazed at what I find there. I take in monarch butterflies from there to raise in safety and release back into their environment. I also photograph the area on an almost weekly basis and notice the oil on top of the water and the sad state of the sediment. I have grown to love and deeply respect that area. If there is anything I can do to help, I would love to know.

    • I grew up next to the Red Run by Chicago & Ryan. Enjoyed the “green nature belt” thoroughly and still do. BUT the ugly flooding issue of wet basements remains after 50 years for Warren residents.

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