From Dave Renwick, Wolverine Lake:
(Wolverine Lake Village Council President John) Magee’s response (“Wild claims in letter,” March 2, 2011 Mail Bag) to my letter (“Sewage release,” Feb. 23, 2011 Mail Bag) asking why the village residents weren’t told immediately about the 30,000 gallon sewage dump into our namesake lake thoroughly spun the facts and, to paraphrase Mr. Magee himself, may have created several misconceptions. You see, when it comes to the political double-speak and spin doctoring of the Wolverine Lake Village Council, it’s not what they say, it’s what they don’t say that counts.
I can’t speak for the Oakland County Health Department (OCHD), but the e-coli limits I quoted were established by the state of Michigan [300 ppm (parts per million) full-body contact, 1,000 ppm partial-body contact]. The village engineer reported to the Village Council that the e-coli levels at the point of lake entry were “… 12,000 ppm, flowing in at 11,000 ppm,” which is a staggering 11 to 12 times above the e-coli danger levels according to the state of Michigan. If as Mr. Magee claims the OCHD stated there was no health threat to the public even in full view of these numbers, then perhaps this information needs to be submitted for consideration by a higher governmental body. Please note Mr. Magee never uses the actual e-coli counts, as they are rather damning to his contention that “… the Wolverine Lake Village Council and administration take the health and safety of its citizens very seriously.”
Further, while looking benign the way Mr. Magee’s spins it, his other example stinks as bad as the sewage. He states that, “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.” If you read between the spin-lines, you’ll notice that once again Mr. Magee does not name actual e-coli counts, and makes claims only for partial-body contact. The reading reported 100 yards out by the village engineer to the Village Council was 550 ppm, nearly double the 300 ppm limit imposed by the state of Michigan for full-body contact. Mr. Magee’s contention 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,” trivializes the health danger e-coli contamination poses at any time of the year and frankly insults me as a citizen. I’ve seen adults come off the lake completely soaked after falling through the ice in the dead of winter. Likewise, I’ve seen kids and adults slogging down the street completely soaked after falling into the lake in all seasons, autumn and winter included. So for a public official like Mr. Magee to trivialize the possibility of full-body contact with the lake water during colder weather is completely irresponsible.
As a gross sidebar, can you imagine how falling into e-coli infested water in your street clothes would make them essentially become a grotesque sponge, holding this pathogen against your body until you could find shelter and change? Like I said, gross!!! So if Mr. Magee and the OCHD want to state for the record that it would not be a health threat if someone fell into a lake with e-coli levels nearly double the danger level for full-body contact (even in autumn and winter), then I’m all ears.
Also, why did the lake need to be subjected to “Observations by multiple parties …” to confirm there was no full-body contact if there was truly no health threat? And did the omnipotent observers have an eye on the contamination point 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or is there the slightest chance these un-named observers might have slept or stepped out for a bathroom break at one point or another? So if Mr. Magee can categorically state that no one was exposed to the water during this critical time, again I’m all ears, but don’t hold your breath waiting.
If you read his letter with an eye for detail, Mr. Magee’s claims leave more questions than answers.
Another of those questions: If the Village Council indeed takes this contamination so seriously, were our neighbors downstream in South Commerce Lake, Proud Lake, and so on down the Huron River Watershed apprised that there was water with an extra dash of e-coli draining from Wolverine Lake into their waterways? If the council didn’t tell us, do you think they bothered to tell our neighbors?
I again strongly urge the Wolverine Lake Village Council to truly take this event as a wake-up call that its citizens and municipal neighbors want to be immediately informed when there is a sewage spill into our lake, and not find out about it piecemeal months later.