Apr 25, 2019

Michigan Storm Drain May Contain Contaminants

A milky substance in Sterling Heights, Mich., storm water drain may be a contaminant

A milky substance in Sterling Heights, Mich., storm water drain may be a contaminant
A milky substance in Sterling Heights, Mich., storm water drain may be a contaminant.

In Michigan, Macomb County officials said they believe potentially toxic concrete washout may be the milky substance found in a Sterling Heights storm water drain.

According to the Detroit Free Press, concrete washout water is what is left over after cement work is done and equipment has been cleaned up with water.

The wash water contains toxic metals and is caustic and corrosive, according to the Detroit Free Press. Additionally, it must be disposed of properly so it does not enter the storm drain system and contaminate local waterways.

According to public works officials, investigators were walking the Burr Relief #2 Drain in the central part of Sterling Heights on Friday and visiting businesses in the area to determine the source of the material.

Water in the drain travels to the Plumbrook Drain to the Red Run Drain to the Clinton River and out to Lake St. Clair, officials said. According to the Detroit Free Press, the substance was reported by a citizen on Thursday, April 18. People from the city, county public works and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality are working on the response.

Off-and-on rains were hampering the operation, introducing heavier water flow volumes to the drains, officials said.

Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller said the main goal is to prevent the material from traveling farther downstream. A sediment curtain was installed Thursday to prevent the material from traveling downstream and entering the Plumbrook Drain, according to the Press.

“Once we establish the source of this material, we will be working with the property owner to correct this situation," Miller said. "At the very least, they should be ready to pay for the cost of this response. This should not fall on the taxpayer."

According to the Press, the public works office said it sent out flyers last year on how to properly handle concrete washout to every known concrete business in the county. The flyers were also shared with municipal building departments.

“This is part of our comprehensive effort to get the word out, that actions that we take have a direct impact on our water quality," Miller said. "Education is a key component of what we do."

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