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Michigan Extends Emergency After Macomb County Sewage Line Collapse

LANSING (WWJ/AP) - Michigan lawmakers have extended an emergency declaration north of Detroit following the collapse of a sewer line that caused a sinkhole the size of a football field in Fraser.

The measure approved Wednesday means Macomb County and Clinton Township will remain under an emergency declaration through March. Gov. Rick Snyder first declared the emergency on Jan. 6 after a similar determination was made locally.

The extended declaration continues to make state resources available to communities affected.

The sewer collapse was discovered Dec. 24 after homeowners heard noises and noticed their house was sinking. Officials temporarily evacuated nearly two dozen homes because water and gas service had to be shut off. Three homes were eventually condemned.

It could cost at least $78 million to fix the line, with estimates as high as $140 million for overall sinkhole repairs. Water and sewage rates may also increase.

Residents of 11 Macomb County communities last week were asked to restrict water usage at their homes as officials said sediment was causing "a dire situation" at the sinkhole.

The sewer line is owned by the Macomb Interceptor Drain Drainage (MIDD) District, which in turn is made up of all or parts of 11 communities in central Macomb County: Fraser, Sterling Heights, Utica and New Haven and Chesterfield, Shelby, Clinton Township, Harrison, Lenox, Washington, and Macomb Township, plus Selfridge Air National Guard Base. Suggestions included taking shorter showers, using paper plates and re-using towels.

Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller the amount of sewage able to flow through the damaged sewer interceptor line along 15 Mile Road was minimal — and too much water usage in the area could force them to pump raw sewage into the Clinton River.

Miller said work is continuing around the clock to install pipes and divert the flow, fixing the problem. She expects that to take about a month.

[Catch up on the sinkhole story]

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