Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Citizens Should Monitor Silt Runoff Themselves

Last spring, I did a photo survey of construction sites in a half dozen southeastern Oakland County communities.  I found a high proportion of sites that showed a lack of adequate silt runoff prevention.  In most instances, properly installed silt fence would have sufficed.  There were incontrovertible signs of heavy silt runoff from recent rains into storm drains.

A week ago, I did a quick inspection of eight new construction sites in Royal Oak.  The proportion with inadequate erosion controls was as great as the year before, perhaps greater.

Erosion management inspections are conducted by way of two types of legislation.  Municipalities that have stringent runoff prevention ordinances under state guidelines are authorized to carry out their own inspections.  Such communities are called Municipal Enforcement Agencies (MEAs). Examples are Birmingham and Troy.

Construction sites in cities, townships and villages that don’t have such runoff control ordinances of their own are inspected by county drain or water resources commissioners under state standards. These are referred to as County Enforcement Agencies (CEAs).

The Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner (OCWRC) is a CEA.  It has several erosion control inspectors.  Each is assigned to monitor specific communities.  

Silt runoff into storm drains is costly, clogging sewers and interfering with treatment/retention basins and wastewater treatment plants.  Furthermore, during rainstorms that overwhelm combined (storm and household waste) sewer systems, the polluted overflow, including silt runoff, enters our lakes and streams untreated or only partially treated.  

Anyone who observes construction sites or other areas where the soil has been disturbed and from which silt is or has been running into storm drains or natural bodies of water should report the situation to local officials such as the mayor, township supervisor, village president, council member or city manager, as well as the OCWRC and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).

OCWRC inspectors and their areas of responsibility appear in the map above and at the following webpage.

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