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Macomb will inspect 17 miles of sewer pipes connected to sinkhole

The sinkhole in Macomb County.
Bryce Huffman
Michigan Radio
The sinkhole in Macomb County.

Macomb County will inspect the entire pipe system surrounding a collapsed sewer line that turned into a massive sinkhole Christmas Eve.

The inspection will use cameras and other technologies to examine 17 miles of pipe in the Macomb Interceptor Drainage District.

Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller says doing a full inspection is the only way to know if there’s additional damage, and what the fixes might look like.

Total repair costs could run upwards of $150 million, and the brunt of that will fall on ratepayers in the 11 Macomb communities that make up the drainage district.

“We need to have all the information at our fingertips to make sure that we can be making the very best decision for the ratepayers, because quite frankly that’s who’s paying for all of this work,” Miller said.

So far, Macomb County has not received any major state or federal aid to deal with the sinkhole. “Fingers crossed we’ll get a little bit of help here, but we might not,” Miller said.

A state grant will help cover most of the cost of the $1.5 million state inspection, Miller said. It should take 3-4 months.

Miller’s office is using additional state grants to inspect sewer infrastructure in other parts of the county.

Just this week, the county announced that a camera inspection of two major storm water drains uncovered an illegal sewer connection into one of them.

That illegal tap, from an apartment complex in Eastpointe, means that millions of gallons of untreated sewage may have directly into Lake St. Clair over more than three decades. The city of Eastpointe has now capped the illegal connection.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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