A Macomb County project will reduce by millions of gallons the amount of sewage and stormwater that’s dumped annually into Lake St. Clair by the Chapaton retention basin.

County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller has announced that new procedures and improved equipment will allow her department to “store” up to 8.6 million gallons upstream in the massive, 12-feet-wide pipes of the underground sewer system. That temporary storage will become standard during heavy rains, reducing Chapaton overflows in a canal that leads to the lake (pictured above) by about 30 percent.


“Water quality equals quality of life,” Miller said. “Reducing combined sewer overflows (CSOs) into the lake is an ongoing, major challenge. Although we’re permitted by the state to have CSOs, this is a problem we shouldn’t just push onto future generations.”

In recent years, the Chapaton basin has dumped up to 800 million gallons of sewage annually in Lake St. Clair. Those spills are partially treated with chlorine before being discharged, but they still contribute to the water pollution problems that plague the lakeshore each summer, forcing dozens of daily beach closings in the area.

With a 28 million-gallon capacity, the facility has not been expanded since it was built in 1968 at 9 Mile Road and Jefferson, at the 9 Mile pier. It handles the combined sewage and rain water drainage from all of Eastpointe and most of St. Clair Shores.

“(This is) a significant improvement we’re proud of because it benefits water quality in Lake St. Clair — our primary source of drinking water for this area and enjoyed by thousands of people for recreation or their livelihood,” said Miller.

“It’s a very big deal.”