Beachgoers enjoy a day at Lake St. Clair Metropark over the summer. State Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, is hosting a town hall meeting in Harrison Township Oct. 8 to address ongoing pollution in Lake St. Clair and possible pollution in the local drinking water.

Beachgoers enjoy a day at Lake St. Clair Metropark over the summer. State Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, is hosting a town hall meeting in Harrison Township Oct. 8 to address ongoing pollution in Lake St. Clair and possible pollution in the local drinking water.

Photo by Julie Snyder


Upcoming town hall to address water contamination

By: Julie Snyder | C&G Newspapers | Published September 13, 2018

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — A Macomb County politician is yet again leading the charge to ensure the safe future of the area’s groundwater and drinking water.

State Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, wants residents to know more about what’s going on in terms of the ongoing polluting of Lake St. Clair, and he wants state officials to offer plausible solutions to the issues.

“This is a bipartisan issue,” said Lucido. “You have to drink water to live.

“I grew up on the lake in St. Clair Shores. That’s why I’m so damn passionate about what the hell is going on out there,” he said. “Enough is enough.”

In an effort to get closer to a solution, for the second year, Lucido is hosting a water quality town hall.

The town hall will take place Monday, Oct. 8, at MacRay Harbor, 30675 N. River Road in Harrison Township. Doors open at 6 p.m., with an informal opportunity for residents to speak one-on-one with elected officials and representatives from invited organizations. A panel discussion by local legislators and others will take place from 7 to 9 p.m., with time for questions from those in attendance.

Topics that will be addressed include recently discovered PFAS chemicals in Macomb County drains and the possible contamination of drinking water, and the conditions of Lake St. Clair as a result of partially treated storm sewer overflow from combined stormwater and sewer systems.

Lucido claims that Oakland County has dumped approximately 2 billion gallons of sewage into Lake St. Clair — via the Red Run Drain to the Clinton River — in the past year. There are also Macomb County causes, too, as there are still some local municipalities that have only partial separation of storm drains and sewer drains.

In June, heavy rains and runoff caused 13 million gallons of partially treated sewage to dump into Lake St. Clair from a retention and treatment basin in St. Clair Shores. About 25 percent of the city’s system is not separated, according to Lucido.

“We need (full) separation of the sewers in all Michigan municipalities and villages,” Lucido said.

Separating the systems, however, comes at a high price, Lucido said, though there are ways these communities can obtain funding. The topic of funding for such projects will be examined.

According to testing done this year by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, PSAF contamination — per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — has drained from Selfridge Air National Guard Base into the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair, contaminating local drinking water.

Test results show that five stormwater drainage outfalls around the Harrison Township base tested positive in February for PFAS contamination, including the drain entering the Clinton River near the intersection of Irwin Drive and North River Road, which tested for 5,009 parts per trillion. The test shows the total PFAS in an outfall near Bridgeview Street tested at 4,771 ppt, and PFAS in base water entering Lake St. Clair directly from a drainage outfall off Jefferson Avenue tested at 947 ppt. The DEQ also detected high levels of PFAS in the Clinton River upstream of the base near Moravian Drive, before the river forks at the spillway.

There is also a consumption advisory for bluegill and sunfish in Lake St. Clair due to PFOS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid), a compound of PFAS.

The chemical PFAS is commonly used as a firefighting foam.

Professor Linda Schweitzer, an environmental chemist from Oakland University in Rochester, said there is still a lot that needs to be learned about the chemical, but one thing is certain — it’s toxic.

“It has some toxicity and it has some effects on cells and neurological systems,” Schweitzer said. “There are different ways it can affect different organs. Even a very small amount can be very bad for you.”

An issue that needs additional study, she said, is to determine safe levels. Schweitzer plans to discuss the topic during the town hall.

Lucido has introduced a host of critical legislation to address water quality. He introduced a plan to regulate the handling, cleanup, storage and disposal of PFAS chemicals, which are found in a variety of products, including firefighting foam. He also filed a resolution petitioning Congress and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to prioritize the issue of PFAS and water safety. HB 6278 will require the separation of storm water drainage and sanitary sewers, and is currently in the House Committee on Local Government. HB 5924 will prohibit the dumping of solid waste from outside the United States and is in the House Committee on Natural Resources.

“I want to establish a standard by the DEQ to handling and storage and disposal of PFAS,” Lucido said. “As a lawyer for 30 years, I thought I could go to Lansing to uncomplicate things. It’s not happening. Enough is enough.”

In addition to Schweitzer and representatives from Save Lake St. Clair, those invited to speak during Lucido’s town hall include federal, state and local government officials; representatives from Selfridge; representatives from the DEQ; the Macomb County Health Department; and the Macomb County Public Works Department.

“The safety of our drinking water and preservation of our lakes and rivers should be a priority for us all,” Lucido said. “It is time we move forward with common-sense solutions.”

For more information, visit Lucido’s Facebook page. He can be reached at (888) MICH-REP or at PeterLucido@house.mi.gov.