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Residents In 11 Macomb County Communities Asked To Restrict Water Use Amid 'Dire Situation' At Fraser Sinkhole

FRASER (WWJ) - Shifting sediment is causing what Macomb County officials call "a dire situation" involving the big sinkhole in Fraser — and residents are being asked to do their part to help.

Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller says residents in eleven local communities are urged to take some actions (scroll down for details) as sediment has greatly reduced the amount of sewage able to flow through the damaged sewer interceptor line along 15 Mile Road.

Photo shows the sewage flow capacity in the sewer interceptor at about noon on Jan.26, when the interceptor line is completely plugged. (credit: Macomb County Public Works Office)

This morning, she said, engineers monitoring the sinkhole observed a marked decrease in the flow of sewage through the interceptor to an almost negligible amount. Further examination showed that the entire 11-foot diameter of the interceptor is now blocked and only seepage is continuing down the line.

The Macomb County Office of Public Works is now urging residents and businesses of the 11 communities served by the line to reduce the flow of water going down their drains.

"I cannot stress enough – we have no capacity in the system for any additional sewage flow. The situation is dire and we are at the mercy of Mother Nature until we can get the temporary by-pass lines in place, which is still a month away from completion," said Miller. "We are working to avoid an environmental disaster."

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.

Residents and businesses in those communities are strongly urged to take the following actions:

  • Reduce the length of showers
  • Only flush solids in the toilet (leave liquids until you have to flush)
  • Only run full wash loads
  • Don't run the water while brushing teeth.
  • Run full dishwasher loads only

"If they can just work with us here, we really need them to do that," Miller said, speaking live on WWJ Newsradio 950, adding that she's also worried about the weather.

"If we have any amount of rain or a lot of usage — with, you know, people flushing their toilets and using water and all of this of course — we may have to dump raw sewage into the Clinton River," she said. "And we do not want to do that."

Millers said as long as the weather and residents cooperate, "we won't have to do it."

Fraser Mayor Joe Nichols echoed Millers' call for help.

"We really need people to understand that it could not be more mass critical that we reduce our showers and only flush solids," Nichols said.

"We have to conserve, because what it's going to do is it's gonna put us in a position, if we don't, that we're going to have to — even with all the precautions that we've put in place  — discharge into those waterways, and no one wants to do that," he said. "And we certainly don't want a bio-hazard by backing up into people's basements."

Back in December, Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon told WWJ Newsradio 950 that crews were forced to pump raw sewage into the Clinton River as a way to alleviate possible flooding in homes near the sinkhole, which opened up on Christmas Eve.

Today, 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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