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article imageFlint city official blames 'Mother Nature' for sewage mess

By Karen Graham     Aug 23, 2019 in Politics
Flint - If anyone thinks Flint, Michigan's water issues are all cleared up - think again. After months of dire warnings of the situation reaching a "critical point, two million gallons of raw sewage ended up in the Flint River Sunday.
One city official blamed the mess on a "flash flood event" at the city's Beecher Road wastewater treatment plant. Heavy rains over the weekend caused "settling tanks" to reportedly overflow into the soil around the tanks and into a storm drain that dumps into the river.
A public advisory was issued, warning citizens to stay out of the Flint River due to possible elevated bacteria levels. However, the incident has caused a flurry of finger-pointing, with the head of Flint's Department of Public Works laying the blame on the inclement weather, MLive notes.
The city publicly announced the spill on August 18 but didn't disclose the volume of the spill until filing a partial report with the Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy on Tuesday, August 20. The water treatment plant has 10 settling tanks, similar to massive swimming pools that hold millions of gallons of sewage.
"The condition of infrastructure and needed capital investment at the wastewater treatment plant had nothing to do with the recent discharge," Rob Bincsik said in a Thursday statement, instead citing the "duration and intensity of the rain."
Here the wastewater is only light grey. In summer it is more black as people use less water.
Here the wastewater is only light grey. In summer it is more black as people use less water.
SuSanA Secretariat
Last year wasn't much better
This latest water problem comes just one week after the Flint River Keeper's Office proclaimed that fishermen, kayakers, and boaters were returning to the Flint River. “The water quality has been very good this year so far,” said David Dixon, a Flint River Keeper Board Member on August 15.
This wasn't the case last year, In May 2018, 90,000 gallons of sewage spilled into the Flint River. And that was just the start of a series of spills to follow in the coming months.
More sewage spills occurred in June, July and then again in August of 2018. City officials decided to spend $1.5 million to repair 10 lift stations that were needing immediate attention. That seemed to do the trick until December that year when heavy rains caused 1,2 million gallons of sewage to spill into the river.
The Flint Water Plant.
The Flint Water Plant.
The city is now seeking a $34 million state sewer revolving loan to fund the improvements on its wishlist. “We’re going to get to a point where we can’t treat our wastewater and sewage anymore,” Bincsik said at the time. “We won’t have to talk about drinking water anymore, because we’ll talk about nothing but the raw sewage that gets discharged into the Flint River.”
In related news, earlier this year, the city sought a waiver that would have eliminated its duty to test water for bacteria after sewage spills like the one that happened on Sunday. The request was denied in June by the Genesee County Health Department.
More about Flint michigan, Raw sewage, Mother nature, flash flood event, Funding cuts
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