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October 3, 2012

County disputes source of rats

Warren to spend $150,000 to cull rodents

By Brian Louwers
C & G Staff Writer

WARREN — Macomb County public works officials said Warren’s leaders should look elsewhere in their search for the source of this summer’s rat invasion.

Work on the Oakland Macomb Interceptor, they said, had nothing to do with it.

Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco and Chief Deputy Public Works Commissioner Bill Misterovich said last week an investigation conducted by their office ruled out construction related to the massive interceptor project as a potential source of rats in some areas of Warren.

Previously, Warren Mayor Jim Fouts had cited the project, which brought massive sewer construction activity to parts of the city as a possible source. The mayor also said the mild winter, dry summer, and residents who failed to remove dog feces or rodent harborage could have been contributing factors.

Marrocco sent a letter to Fouts and members of the Warren City Council on Sept. 11, refuting the assertion that work on the interceptor contributed to the rat problem.

The interceptor handles sewage for 24 communities, not including Warren, which treats its own wastewater.

“We think it’s inaccurate information, and we’re interested in getting the truth out,” Misterovich said Sept. 25. “The contention that the Oakland Macomb Interceptor was the cause of the rat problem was just factually untrue, and we wanted the public to know that.”

Misterovich said an investigation conducted by the Macomb County Public Works Office — which jointly owns the interceptor along with the Oakland Water Resources Commissioner’s Office — found evidence that cleared the project of any blame for the rats.

He said the evidence included observations from workers who spent months working in the interceptor near Nine Mile and Stephens, and later claimed they did not see any rats.

Crews working under Dodge Park and 15 Mile roads in Sterling Heights also reported no rat sightings.

Misterovich cited the interceptor’s depth, the velocity of flowing wastewater, and a lack of access as reasons for the lack of rodent activity there.

He said the interceptor’s depth ranges from 67 feet at 14 Mile Road to 100 feet at Eight Mile.

Because Warren treats its own wastewater, the interceptor is not tied into the city’s sewer system.

Warren City Council Secretary Scott Stevens said he sent a letter to county public works officials at the direction of the council.

Stevens said last week he never suspected rats were inside of the interceptor.

“We thought just possibly the construction going on got them on the move or something,” Stevens said.

Warren officials have sought to pay two contractors up to $150,000 to trap or kill rats this summer and fall.

Residents interested in procuring a trap through a city eradication contractor must first schedule an inspection by calling (586) 574-4662. Traps will be distributed to residents of inspected properties once rodent activity has been verified.

Officials urged all residents to help combat rats by removing possible food sources — including animal feces and garden waste — from their yards, securing garbage in cans with lids and eliminating any areas that could shelter rodents.

The onset of cold weather, they said, could further curtail rat activity.

“We need nature to help us,” Stevens said. “I don’t like spending money. We can tell people to tolerate it — it’s going to go away once we get some bad weather — but I don’t think people should have to do that.

“If people are not practicing good maintenance around their homes, and they’re doing things that attract rats and help them multiply, then we need to let them know they have to stop it,” Stevens said.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Brian Louwers at brianlouwers@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1089.