From Wolverine Lake Village Council President John Magee:
The letter to the editor entitled “Sewage release” in the Feb. 23 edition of the Spinal Column Newsweekly may have created several misperceptions regarding the Nov. 28 sewage spill at the Walled Lake lift station on South Commerce Road. I’d like to take this opportunity to set the record straight.
The village of Wolverine Lake did not issue a health advisory following the Nov. 28 sewage spill because the Oakland County Health Department (OCHD) advised us that they did not consider the incident to pose a health threat. All of the evidence that I have seen since indicates to me that their judgment was correct.
Our village administrator (Sharron Miller) was notified by our police department late that Sunday evening, Nov. 28, that there had been an incident that afternoon at the Walled Lake lift station operated by the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office (WRC). The OCHD was notified promptly by the WRC, and chose not to issue a health advisory. The next day our village engineer contacted the OCHD directly. He was advised that the OCHD had been notified of the spill, was monitoring the situation, did not consider it to be a health threat at the time, and that they would immediately notify the public if that estimation changed.
All the records that I have seen indicate that the OCHD was promptly updated about both the spill and the results of e-coli testing conducted at the time of the spill. Although the full size of the spill was 30,000 gallons, much of that sewage did not reach the lake. As they repaired the lift station, the WRC vacuumed sewage from the street, the open ditch, and the culvert, and treated the open areas with lime.
Testing at the time of the spill indicated that 100 yards from the point at which the spill contacted the lake, e-coli levels were well below the safety level for partial body contact. Observations by multiple parties over time indicated that there was absolutely no swimming, bathing, or any other full-body contact activity taking place anywhere near the spill or in the rest of the lake — hardly surprising in late November in Michigan. The e-coli levels seen during the spill were expected to quickly dissipate. Subsequent testing at the site has shown that counts quickly fell below safe levels for full-body contact. The village has conducted ongoing e-coli tests in the area this winter and plans to conduct extra tests in the area next summer, to be sure that the area remains safe.
Contrary to the wild claims in the letter, the Wolverine Lake Village Council and administration take the health and safety of its citizens very seriously. We monitor the cleanliness of our lake very closely, and we will continue to do so.