Turns out that sewage and storm drains are believed to be mixing in two locations in Warren. The drains empty into Lake St. Clair.
Responding to a complaint from a citizen, Candice Miller, the Macomb County Public Works Commissioner began an investigation that discovered so much E. Coli bacteria — found in human and animal waste — that it was literally off the charts, as in they found levels higher than the test could count.
The maximum test count is approximately 2,400 count of E.coli per milliliter. A count of 300 is enough to close a beach. Both sites tested off the chart.
The offending sewers are, according to the Public Works office, owned and controlled by the city of Warren.
“We are doing a comprehensive inspection of drains all over Macomb County because there is no one single source of pollution and contaminants. As we inspect drains, we are looking at the condition of the pipe if it is an enclosed drain, and running samples to make sure there are no illicit connections, in other words, some type of sanitary sewerage that should not be in a storm drain. This is what we have found in these two locations and we have notified city officials in Warren and they have assured us they will work with us to identify the point source of their sewer pipe which is somehow entering the county storm sewer,” Miller said.
The E.coli bacteria is entering the county drains from two city-owned local pipes
- In a neighborhood between Schoenherr and Bunert, south of 14 Mile Road; and
- Along the east side of Schoenherr, immediately north of I-696.
The MCPW collected and tested samples from more than 20 locations along the drain in an effort to isolate the source.
The county says crews found a 36-inch diameter city pipe at the location near 14 Mile Road and a 72-inch diameter city pipe at the location near I-696. Water from both pipes is entering into the MCPW with the high E.coli counts, meaning the source is somewhere in the Warren pipes.
The Schoenherr Relief Drain was constructed in the early 1950s and runs near Schoenherr Road from 9 Mile Road to the Red Run, just north of 14 Mile Road. One of the hot spots was found on the 14 Mile Schoenherr Relief Drain, which runs east-west along 14 Mile Road.
Both drains receive storm water from drains operated by the city, the Macomb County Dept. of Roads and Michigan Dept. of Transportation. The underground drain varies in size, up to more than 12 feet in diameter where it enters the Red Run.
The Red Run drain is an open waterway that begins in Oakland County and runs through Warren and Sterling Heights before emptying in to the Clinton River near Metro Parkway and Utica Road in Sterling Heights.
The county will be following up with the city of Warren around repairs.