Parking lot violations threaten water quality


Aug. 13, 2005  PLYMOUTH EAGLE

Plymouth Michigan News


Don Howard

Staff Writer



Officials from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) have determined that the 4-acre, 209-spot parking lot under construction in McClumpha Park in Plymouth Township is in violation of state regulations.

Following a one-day stop work order issued by Wayne County Land Resource Management Division two weeks ago, officials from MDEQ Southeast Michigan Industrial and Storm Water unit initiated an investigation of the park waterways, demanding the township meet post-construction requirements for run-off water in addition to a Soil Erosion Sedimentation Permit (SESC). The county had issued the stop-work order as no soil erosion permit had been issued. The work order read, “You have been ordered to cease and desist all earth disturbing activity until such time as a SESC permit is obtained.” Wayne County officials confirmed that the township allowed construction to begin in the sub-watershed area without seeking or obtaining the proper permits.

Within 48 hours, the contractor, Merlo Construction, resumed work at the parking lot, armed with an SESC permit that Township Supervisor Shannon Price said was previously applied for but delayed because of a check the county failed to cash.

On Tuesday, however, Hae-Jin Yoon, Southeast Michigan supervisor for the MDEQ said the township needs to make “improvements” to comply with state regulations by changing the location of the outflow at the parking lot site, “so runoff water goes in more of an upland area.”

Yoon said with the current design most of the (runoff) water goes into storm drains that empty too close to the valley which is a designated Rouge River sub-watershed. The storm drains lead to perforated underground piping. Runoff water, Yoon explained, can contain many types of contaminants, including gas and oil from automobiles which can seriously threaten water quality.

“They (Plymouth Township) need to change the location of the outflow…” Yoon explained.

Yoon is referring to is the same area township officials have designated for proposed construction of an outdoor amphitheater where vegetation was removed and core drillings for soil samples were completed last year.

Yoon and Wayne County Water Quality Analyst Andrew Bahrou met with Price, Township Park Director Mike Mitchell, Township Engineer Patrick Felrath and David Richmond, project manager from Spalding DeDecker, the consulting engineers who replaced the original project engineering firm, on Aug. 7 to discuss changes to the plans that would mitigate the problems and bring the township into compliance with recommended MDEQ requirements.

Local environmentalists from Friends of the Rouge have been sampling the creek that flows through Plymouth Township Park since 2003 said Sally Petrella, volunteer monitoring program manager who is worried about the new construction and the impact on the pristine waters in the parks creek and pond, especially after identifying a rare species of fish called the Least Darter.

“We currently know of no other location where this sensitive darter can be found in the watershed. All darters are sensitive to changes in water quality and habitat,” she said.

In an email communication addressed to the MDEQ, to the attention of Yoon, Petrella said, “Changes to the land around this stream will impact water quality.  Adding 4 acres of impervious surface will increase the amount of runoff into the Rouge and lead to increased temperature, sedimentation, nutrient enrichment and other pollutants.

“In a degraded system such as the Rouge, this creek is one of the remaining good quality areas. Not mitigating for this parking lot could be the tipping point that would lead to declining water quality and the loss of another good quality stream in the Rouge.  The Rouge has so few good quality areas that remain. There are many techniques to mitigate the negative effects of impervious surfaces on creeks that could be easily incorporated.  We would be happy to provide information about these techniques.”

Consulting engineers from Spalding DeDecker responded to the notice of violations by saying they are working hard to resolve the issues.

Richmond said that while final plans to correct the problems are not yet approved, they call for the creation of a bio-swale; a landscape element designed to remove silt and pollution from the surface runoff water.

“We’re working with the MDEQ and going to make some changes…We’re trying to work with everybody to make them happy,” Richmond said.

Another meeting with the MDEQ officials and environmentalists is scheduled for next week to address the threat to the water quality.

Township Clerk Nancy Conzelman posted a bid proposal for replacement engineering services at the site with new proposals due Aug. 11.

Trustee Chuck Curmi noted that he was completely unaware of any of the environmental problems at the site or the request for proposals from alternate engineering companies.

“I have no knowledge of the inquiry nor know why the clerk has solicited bids for proposed engineering work,” Curmi said.


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