Lansing’s Summer of Construction Headaches

Spring is upon us, and as they say, April shower bring May flowers. But flowers are not the only thing that more rain brings.

Sewer overflows can result in the release of harmful pathogens in waterways

Sewer overflows can result in the release of harmful pathogens into waterways. Photo: Stanne/NYSDEC

Massive amounts of runoffs from those rainy days — that MSU students spend trudging to class — pour into sewers. Water treatment systems are set up by the city to capture the runoff to clean it before it makes its way back to the waterway, but when there is too much rain water, the system gets backed up and overflows can occur.

Lansing is doing something to solve this problem. Continuing on with the city’s 30-year plan to provide separate sewers for the city, as part of the Combined Sewer Overflow Program, summer 2009 is sure to be a construction packed season.

Below is a map of all of the planned construction for Downtown Lansing and the projected start dates for each site:

East Lansing already has a CSO-type system installed, but the installation process was different than Lansing’s–and a whole lot less intrusive. According to Jeff Johnston, superintendent of the East Lansing Waste Water Treatment Plant, the sewer split project under Grand River Avenue was completed using the same technique that was used to dig a tunnel under the English Channel to connect London to Paris for commercial travel. A giant tunnel boring machine was used to drill a massive tunnel instead of tearing up roads.

Johnston said that Lansing’s CSO construction plan will be “a huge inconvenience to drivers.”

Legislation recently proposed by Michigan State Sen. Patty Birkholz would allow communities the option to charge a fee to residents based on the suggestions of local stormwater systems experts to help keep the systems healthy and functioning properly.

Related Links:

MSU Green Roofs Research

DEQ Stormwater Program

National Research Council Report on Urban Stormwater (PDF

What You Can Do About Stormwater Pollution

–Rachel Iovan

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