Flooding dumps 50,000 pounds of sewage in Grand River

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GRAND LEDGE, MI (WLNS) – Rainwater from Sunday’s flash flooding has caused quite the mess in Grand Ledge as hundreds of thousands of gallons of sewage is contaminating the Grand River.

6 News Christa Lamendola has more on how this happened and what the city can do to clean up.

Fishing, kayaking swimming, it’s all off limits right now in the Grand River, after three inches of rain poured into Grand Ledge in a matter of 45 minutes.

6 News talked with the city’s public service director who says the intensity of that rain was too much for the city’s storm water system.

“When you get that high of intensity of a rainfall event it just overwhelms the system.”

Five times the normal amount of rain, flooding Grand Ledge’s sewer system, it’s what public service director Larry LaHie says pushed hundreds of thousands of gallons of raw sewage into the Grand River.

Reporter: “Is there sewage in the water right now?

“Sure, yea, the capacity of the pipe to handle that flow was overwhelmed and so we had to discharge it to the river,” said Larry LaHie, Grand Ledge Public Service director.

It’s something the city deals with every few years when high intensity rains overwhelm three pumps, blocking the normal pipeline to the sewage treatment plant and diverting the mess into the water at Island Park.

“The bacterial levels go up significantly in the grand river and it’s probably not safe for total body contact,” said LaHie.

“It’s very concerning especially since we were standing right along the water edge. I’m just glad that neither one of them dipped their hand down into the water,” said Neena Kovalchik, concerned parent.

There’s about 500,000 gallons of raw sewage running through the Grand River. The levels are about 3 feet higher than normal but LaHie says with rain in the forecast Monday night, another sewage overflow is possible.

“If we have another large rainfall the amount of flow in the sewer lines will go right back up and we’ll have the same problem,” said LaHie.

There is no clean up for a mess like this. LaHie says the sewage is diluted by the existing water and nature will runs its course.

He does believe other cities and towns are experiencing similar problems too.

When they tested the waters upstream away from where the sewage was discharged, those bacteria levels were just as bad as they were at the point where the waste initially went into the water.

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