Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller stands in front of the canal at the Chapaton Retention Basin.

Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller stands in front of the canal at the Chapaton Retention Basin.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

Nine Mile boat launch in St. Clair Shores to close Aug. 1 for canal expansion

By: Alyssa Ochss | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published July 23, 2023


ST. CLAIR SHORES — The Nine Mile boat launch will be closed starting Aug. 1 until August 2025 to expand the canal at the Chapaton Retention Basin as part of an effort to reduce combined sewer overflows.

Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller said the project will include expanding the storage canal and replacing the outfall gates.

“We have about 3 million gallons of storage in that canal. When we’re done, it will be 13 million,” Miller said. “So a significant improvement.”

This new canal will reduce combined sewer overflows by about 30% or more, Miller said. Another project that will reportedly be online by the end of the year will see another 10% to 15% reduction of CSOs. All of this is in addition to operational and process changes that reduced CSOs by 30%, according to Miller.

CSOs occur when combined sewer systems become overwhelmed with rainwater and sewage, and the untreated water flows into nearby lakes and rivers.

The cost of the project will reportedly be about $27 million. Miller also said all of the products used in the project will be American made.

“Of which I’ve received all that money from several sources,” Miller said. “The state and also Macomb County. That’s mostly ARPA money, American Rescue Plan money.”

She said this is good news for the rate payers because they don’t have to raise the rates for the projects.

The three main reasons they are planning this project are to replace old infrastructure, to reduce CSOs and to protect basements from flooding by building it at a higher flood elevation. Miller recalled a large rain event that occurred two years ago that flooded all of the Grosse Pointe communities and many other areas.

“That’s the kind of rain events we’re having anymore, right,” Miller said. “Whether it’s climate change or whatever’s happening, we have to make sure that we are protecting basements from flooding here.”

She went on to say that this will help the community generationally.

Miller said she understands the inconvenience for boaters with the boat launch closed during the next couple of seasons.

“I feel bad that some of the boaters, you know, that are trying to launch their boat will be inconvenienced for a couple years. I get it,” Miller said. “It’s that or are we going to protect our water quality for generations?”

Officials don’t think there will be a delay for the project. The occupants of most of the surrounding businesses and apartments were reportedly contacted about the project and the noise it may produce.

“We’re trying to be a good neighbor,” Miller said. “But this is our property and we’re a pump station and we have a mission here.”

The neighbors they spoke to recently understood the importance of the project and what it does to protect the water quality in the lake, Miller said. Flyers have been handed out to residents about the project and there are signs posted around the pump station notifying people about the project and the subsequent boat launch closure.

The closure was brought up at the July 17 St. Clair Shores City Council meeting when City Manager Dustin Lent mentioned it during his report.

Councilman John Caron said there is a group that gets together whenever they have to shut down the dog park at a smaller park beyond the public works building. He questioned if that would be closed as well due to the project and Mayor Kip Walby said it would.

Councilman Chris Vitale later said he was not happy about the boat launch closing but he is happy about keeping the sewer water out of the lake.

Chairperson of the Waterfront Environmental Committee Heidi McInnes said the committee is very excited about the project. She said she thinks community leaders are doing a great job and that it has been a long time coming.

“I think it’s great for the city, great for the county, great for Macomb County,” McInnes said.