Monday, October 17, 2016

Oakland Justifies Lake St. Clair Pollution

For years, local authorities have treated combined sewer overflows (CSOs) with chlorine to kill bacteria in preparation for diverting the overflow following heavy rains away from wastewater treatment plants and into natural water bodies.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been urging state and local officials to convert combined sewer systems into separate sanitary and stormwater sewer systems.

“Oakland County dumped 2 billion gallons of sewage into Macomb in August storm”“Several hours after the Aug. 11 [2014] storm, the polluted Red Run Drain in Warren was still about 20 feet above its normal level.”

Thereafter, pathogens, toxins and nutrients originating in household wastewater would go to a wastewater treatment plant for removal while the heavy volume of rainwater would flow separately, directly into lakes and streams. Cities like Lansing and Grand Rapids have undertaken such conversions.
Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash justifies not planning for separate stormwater and sanitary sewage systems by arguing that separated stormwater runoff is not treated, so whatever pollutants it carries off streets, parking lots and roofs ends up in lakes and streams.

Presently, Nash sends combined storm and sanitary effluent from the giant Kuhn Retention Basin in Madison Heights to a wastewater treatment plant in Detroit.

If heavy rainfall threatens to overwhelm the treatment plant, Nash partially treats the combined fluids with chlorine to control pathogens such as bacteria and sends the deluge into Red Run, through Macomb County to the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair.

But the sanitary sewage component contains the nutrients like phosphorus that are found in human waste. Those nutrients generate algal blooms, some with toxic potential, that contribute to the degradation of Lake St. Clair.

In other words, Nash seems content to pass on to Lake St. Clair the pollutants in the waste of hundreds of thousands of people rather than the separated stormwater running off roofs and pavements.

Go figure.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Corps of Engineers Relents, Will Dredge Cleveland Ship Channel

James F. McCarty reports in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on October 3, 2016:
CLEVELAND, Ohio – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced late Monday that it would dredge the upper reaches of the Cuyahoga River shipping channel where sediment has been piling up, forcing cargo ships to "light load" during deliveries to the ArcelorMittal steel mill.
The Army Corps ended its year-long refusal to dredge on the condition that, if the agency prevails in a federal court lawsuit, Ohio would reimburse the Corps for the additional costs required to dump the sediment into Dike 10, a confined disposal facility on the Lake Erie shoreline near Burke Lakefront Airport.
The Army Corps has maintained the sediment is nontoxic and safe enough for open lake disposal. But the Ohio EPA disagreed and blocked that action, maintaining that the sediment is too polluted with PCBs. 

ArcelorMittal Steel - Cleveland

OCTOBER 16, 2016 UPDATE: Following court proceedings, the Corp of Engineers has awarded a $3.7 million contract to dredge the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland. It is anticipated that dredging will start soon.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Improve Lake St. Clair by Removing Floodplain Sediments

Michigan and Ontario residents alarmed about pollution in Lake St. Clair shouldn’t limit their concern to combined sewer overflows. More could be done to improve water quality upstream in the small ditches and creeks that contribute algae-fueling nutrients to rivers like the Clinton and Thames leading to the lake.

Big Spring Run -

Good results are being realized in the Chesapeake Bay watershed from the restoration of floodplains and wetlands far upstream by removing legacy sediment deposits loaded with nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen.

One example is a project in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania which was completed five years ago. Sediment deposits from careless land use practices in the past were removed from 12 acres of bottom land. Four and a half acres of aquatic habitat were restored and reconnected to the watershed, as well.

Sediment removed is said to have been 22,000 tons, including 25 tons of phosphorus and 30 tons of nitrogen.

“Chief among the latest findings is research showing dramatic reductions in surface water temperatures and nitrogen, the re-establishment of threatened species of plants, colonization by the green frog and a 50 percent reduction in sediment leaving the restored ecosystem.”