A joint operation initiated by the U.S. Coast Guard and supported by the Michigan departments of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Natural Resources (DNR), along with county sheriff departments, was recently conducted on the Manistee River and Lake Manistee. The operation was undertaken to establish a baseline of environmental factors affecting water quality. As part of the operation, a major sewage overflow was detected in Manistee and later corrected by city crews.

The quick work by the joint operation and the city workers helped avoid a major contamination problem on the Manistee River, according to DNR Law Enforcement Chief Gary Hagler.

“I want to commend our officers and personnel from the DNR and DEQ who acted quickly to detect and deal with this sewage blockage and subsequent leak into the Manistee River,” Hagler said. “Their quick response avoided substantial discharge of sewage into the river, and protected our important aquatic resources and fisheries.”

On April 8, a DNR vessel operated by a DNR conservation officer – including a DNR environmental investigation detective, a DEQ Water Resources Division employee and two US Coast Guard members – began Operation Run Off 2013 on the Manistee River and Lake Manistee. In the City of Manistee, the team observed a significant amount of wastewater flowing into the river from an outfall or discharge point.

The crew approached the outfall and discovered sewage being discharged into the river. The officers and personnel continued their investigation and contacted another DNR conservation officer on land for follow up. Contact was made with the City of Manistee Public Works, and officials there immediately responded to the area and discovered the malfunction and blockage of the system and stopped the flow.

DEQ Water Resources personnel from the Cadillac District Office continue to work with Manistee city officials on addressing the problem and corrective actions.

Hagler said that this is a good example of agencies combining resources to protect Michigan’s natural resources. This is the second such operation in Michigan to collect baseline environmental data so DEQ can assess which damages are being caused by spring run-off, and which are caused by long-standing industrial uses or other sources of contamination.

Hagler reminded Michigan residents that anytime they suspect water contamination from an oil spill, chemicals or any other substance, to call the National Response Center at 800-424-8802.

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