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E-M:/ NPDES Permits



In 1997 the City of Scottville attempted to extend sewage services to a propose McDonald's and Blarney Castle station.   Then City Manager, Timothy Klunder, began the process of working with the DEQ in Cadillac to see if they could add them to their system. 
 
As many of you may well know the City Scottville has been and still does has CSO and ground water discharges, (During a public hearing DEQ officials this summer stated that all three lagoons were leaking.  The engineering firm stated that an average of 500,000 gpd was entering the system which was downgraded by the DEQ to handle under 100m gpd.)  It is an estimated average of nearly 400,000 gpd of partially treated sewage enters the groundwater everyday.  DEQ officials stated the phosphates were high, but it was not a major concern since it was just like having some fertilizer there.  I have complained that the existing system, which is to be abandoned since my family filed a citizens suit two years ago, is not operating properly.  That is the effluent is not being treated in the proper order.  The influent does not even go to the first pond because it cannot get to pond number two.  The control structure was cemented in, and a new one only allows flow to the final lagoon.  This is in violation of their NPDES Permit which has been expired since 1978.  There is no treatment except by directing effluent into pond number 2 and then into the final pond.  Is it any wonder all ponds leak.  Even the first two that are clay lined are leaking. 
 
When I first noted that the NPDES Permit for this system which discharges into the State and National Wild and Scenic Pere Marquette River, Bill McCracken, Chief of Permits told me this was embarrassing.  Indeed it is!  I finally had the opportunity to talk to Mr. Tom Rohrer who told me he was going to check into this.  Within two days Mr. Rohrer, when I called him back, told me he talked to the Cadillac office and he was not going to seek an enforcement action on the City of Scottville.  However, when we filed our 505 suit, Mr. Rohrer was right away a enforcement action.  
 
Three years later, the City of Scottville is discharging millions of gallons a week into the ground water.  They have finally agreed to abandon this "state of the art" system.  However, nothing have been done to get the control structure operating and make the attempt to treat this sewage as designed.  The time table for a regional plan is two years away.  The City, who held off an infrastructure study just recently found every line, and every service line in the city must be replaced at a cost over 4 million dollars.  Their total cost will be over 7 million dollars.  The City maintained this was a state of the art system in 1963 when it was built.  Indeed it was, but not to handle 3-5 times the effluent it was designed for.  Is it any wonder the clay liners are gone?   Doesn't the DEQ have concerned for the ground water? 
 
Today, as we speak, the DEQ has permitted a new shower building for the City of Scottville, which is being built in a flood plain, and within the boundary allowed by the Corp of Engineers for the river's designation. 
 
The DEQ's own files shows the City was told in the early 70's to start fixing their infrastructure even if it was on a block by block basis.  The City attempted to renew their permit unsuccessfully twice in the 80's when grant money was much more abundant.  Why did they stop the process, and why were they allowed to?    How can the DEQ deny they allow this City to remain above the law and continually overflow to the PM River and discharge into the groundwater.  The original capacity of those lagoons was approximately 195,000 gpd.  The engineers reported since the 70's they average over 500,000 gpd!  This has gone on for nearly 30 years.  Only by a citizens suit was there action.  Tom Rohrer made it clear he was not going to even consider enforcement action. 
 
Today as we speak, it could be alleged the DEQ and the US Fish and Wildlife, will continue to allow the City to be above the law. 
 
Jeff Henry
Henry's Landing, Pere Marquette River