Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller and freshman Congressman Andy Levin have teamed up in a bipartisan effort to secure federal funding for a project that would significantly reduce pollution flowing into Lake St. Clair.
Levin, a Bloomfield Township Democrat, and eight other members of the Michigan congressional delegation are pursuing funds to double the capacity of a sewage retention basin located on the lakefront in St. Clair Shores. In recent years, the Chapaton basin has dumped up to 800 million gallons of sewage annually in Lake St. Clair.
The $30 million infrastructure project will eliminate about 75 percent of the sewage overflows. In December, the state Legislature assisted with a $3 million grant but Miller is hoping for federal funding to limit the price tag placed on ratepayers in St. Clair Shores and neighboring Eastpointe.
“To make urgent water quality improvements to Lake St. Clair, we need investment from both the state and federal governments,” said Levin, whose Oakland/Macomb House district includes the basin. “Current problems including storm water contamination are linked to overflows that would be prevented if necessary improvements to the Chapaton retention basin were made.”
With a 28 million-gallon capacity, the facility has not been expanded since it was built in 1968 at 9 Mile Road and Jefferson. Miller, a Republican who served in Congress for 14 years, has said the Chapaton upgrade would be a major step toward limiting the E.coli bacteria contamination that enters the lake during sewage releases.
“Protecting our magnificent Great Lakes is an issue that is far larger than just a few communities in a single county,” said Miller, who was just reappointed to the Great Lakes Commission, a body consisting of representatives from eight states and two Canadian provinces that border the lakes. “Lake St. Clair and the Great Lakes basin is a national treasure, so it makes sense that our federal government would play a role in this project to protect the lakes.”
In a letter Monday to the House Appropriations Committee, Levin sought an unspecified “robust” allocation for Chapaton from the Water Infrastructure Act of 2018. Those co-signing the letter were by Reps. Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland), Dan Kildee (D-Flint Township), Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph), Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly), Paul Mitchell (R-Dryden), Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills), Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit).