(WLNS) – When it rains, sewers are supposed to do the job of catching all the raw water filled with oil, sludge, bacteria and drainage, but in Lansing, those sewers overflow, leading to sewage dumping into City rivers.
Lansing has a long way to go before being where they want to be with safely disposing storm water and sewage.
The Grand River along with the Red Cedar River are both filled with sewage dumped after rainfall, but the City says the amount and frequency needs to change.
In Michigan, all cities and townships are required to report to the Department of Environmental Quality when they dump into water ways.
“This is not right and we need to move to try and right this wrong,” Director of Lansing Public Services Chad Gamble said.
Gamble says Lansing isn’t the only place impacted by the dumping.
“Whatever we do here in the City of Lansing impacts not only us but everything downstream as well,” Gamble said.
Lansing reported 7 discharges in July alone, but the standards the City is trying to reach are far from where they stand now.
“Frequency of those discharges should be something in the neighborhood of no more than once every ten years,” Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Environmental Engineer Chuck Bennett said.
Lansing has already spent decades and $355 million on a project, and dumps just under 1 billion gallons a year into the rivers, a decrease from the 1.6 billion gallon average the City dumped in the early 90s.
“What brings it down are these massive infrastructure projects that take a lot of money and a lot of time,” Gamble said.
Despite the cost of another $400 million to go before these problems are fixed, Bennett says the issue hits closer to home here, than almost anywhere else in the country.
“Our great lakes, our water resources are the most important things that makes Michigan what it is,” Bennett said.
Because there is no quick fix, substantial changes may take up to 40 years before the water ways see a significant decrease in discharge.