The river to our south - the River Raisin.
The river to our south – the River Raisin. Photo Credit: CaptPiper @

News to Us has been coming to you via a guest editor (one of HRWC’s summer interns Jhena Vigrass — Thanks Jhena!) for the past couple of months while I was out on maternity leave.  After many weeks of very minimal exposure to news and current events, I have resurfaced to mixed news on the state of our river and the waters of Southeast Michigan.  There have been an alarming number of reports of sewage overflows and other hazardous spills recently.  This may be due to better reporting, coincidence, aging infrastructure or negligence.  Likely it is a combination of several of these reasons.  What it means for certain is our river has taken some hits and diligence on the part of HRWC, local governments, the State and watershed residents is as important as ever.  Read about some of these setbacks and the steps several of our neighbors including Oakland County, the City of Ann Arbor and the communities of the Raisin River watershed, are doing to improve the situation.

COLUMN: Crucial issues need to be addressed regarding Great Lakes health Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner, Jim Nash shares his opinion on some of the most pressing local issues that affect our waterways and the health of the Great Lakes.  He discusses stormwater management and what he hopes the recent summit hosted by the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office will do to raise awareness about stormwater issues and solutions.

Ann Arbor’s increasing sewage overflows and aging sewer system a concern of officials  This article discusses recent sewage spills in Ann Arbor, possible reasons for more frequent infrastructure failures and what the City is doing in response.  These spills often reach the Huron River or its tributaries directly, impacting water quality.  Rapid response and prevention are key to protecting our water from sewage contamination.

Popular Bathroom Wipes Blamed for Sewer Clogs.  In related news, this national piece was recently released.  There are things, we as residents of this watershed, can do to help our cities and villages keep sewer systems clean, functioning and less susceptible to failure.  Avoid flushing anything that does not breakdown readily such as the bathroom wipes mentioned in this article but also diapers, disposable toilet bowl cleaners, baby wipes, feminine hygiene products, oil and grease all of which contribute to clogged sewage pipes.

Unknown fluid draining into Huron River near EMU campus  Washtenaw County HAZMAT and EPA are investigating the spill of an unknown substance to the Huron River last week.   The spill occurred near the Eastern Michigan University campus by the bridge on Forest Avenue, near Frog Island.

River Raisin Less Polluted, Officials Say  Good news coming from our neighbors to the south.  The Raisin River watershed, draining areas of Washtenaw, Jackson, Lenawee, Hillsdale and Monroe counties, has realized enough improvement in the river that several “beneficial use impairments” (BIUs), set by USEPA, have been removed.  Two of fourteen BIUs were removed because of marked gains on E. coli and nutrient levels in the river.  This is great progress made through the efforts of the communities and residents of the Raisin River watershed.