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Huron River

These trees will have to be removed in order to clean up the bank and bed of the Huron River in Ann Arbor.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The Ann Arbor City Council has approved $3.8 million worth of upgrades to improve the city’s water system. $3.4 million of that money will go to UV-treatment upgrades in order to combat a parasite called cryptosporidium.

PFAS foam along the Huron River.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Good news for the city of Ann Arbor's drinking water - and the residents who drink it.

The city's Drinking Water Quality Manager, Sarah Page, says tests have detected no PFOS and PFOA compounds in the past five months.  PFOS and PFOA are two of the most worrisome PFAS compounds.

Crews work to clean up a fuel spill after fatal crash on Eastbound M-14 in Ann Arbor M-14
Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

HAZMAT crews worked Monday to clean up diesel fuel from the Huron River in Ann Arbor. The spill was caused by a fatal accident on eastbound M-14 involving two semi trucks.

A person holding a northern pike
Flicker user megankhines / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Health officials are warning people not to eat fish from parts of a southeastern Michigan river because of chemical contamination.

The emergency "Do Not Eat" advisory issued Saturday applies to all fish from the Huron River from Oakland County's Milford to the Livingston and Washtenaw county border. That includes lakes connected by the river, including Kent Lake.

Sewer cover
user greg l / wikimedia commons

Nearly 300,000 gallons of sewage overflowed from a manhole into the University of Michigan's Nichols Arboretum this weekend, according to the city of Ann Arbor.

Some of the sewage also ended up in the Huron River, but in a statement the city said it doesn't know how much.

Ann Arbor is blaming the blockage on an uninflated sewer plug and 3,000 feet of rope.

The rope was left by a contractor who recently inspected the sewer.

A $1.8 million grant is going to help protect the Huron River satershed.

The money is coming through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, as part of the 2014 Farm Bill.

Meghan Prindle is the Community and Landowner Outreach Coordinator for the Legacy Land Conservancy. She says the grant will help with several problems, including fertilizer runoff and erosion.

“This is largely going to take the form of reaching out to landowners and trying to help them tap into federal program funding,” says Prindle.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Tonight at Cobblestone Farm in Ann Arbor, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will hold a public meeting to discuss a plan to clean up toxic pollution along the banks of the Huron River.

The soil near the Huron River just downriver of Argo Dam has been contaminated with substances leftover from an old manufactured gas plant that operated from around the 1900s to the 1940s.

Manufactured gas plants converted coal to gas for street lamps, cooking, and heating prior to the widespread use of natural gas.

But back in those days, converting coal to gas left behind some nasty pollution. And the tarry, oily-like pollution can bubble up decades later - as it has in Ann Arbor.

The site in Ann Arbor is owned by the Michigan Consolidated Gas Company (MichCon), a subsidiary of DTE Energy.

You can get an idea of where the pollution is on the site by clicking through the images above.

In a pollution response plan filed on behalf of MichCon, several pollutants were noted.

  • Benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes (BTEX) (associated with petroleum releases);
  • Total polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) (associated with MGP tar and/or petroleum releases);
  • Metals (arsenic, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, selenium, silver, thallium, and vanadium) (some of these metals (e.g., arsenic) may be from natural background);
  • Ammonia; and
  • Available cyanide.

Here's more on tonight's public meeting from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality:

MichCon property owners are proposing to remove sediment, near shore soil, and some contaminated upland soil from the Huron River and its south bank at the MichCon plant site near Broadway Street. This plan requires a construction permit from DEQ.  

The public meeting and hearing will be held at Cobblestone Farm, located at 2781 Packard Road in Ann Arbor. Doors will open in the big barn on the second floor at 6 p.m. for informal discussion with DEQ staff, followed by a public meeting at 7 p.m., and a formal hearing to gather public comment around 8 p.m.  

As part of the permit review process, the DEQ also is accepting written public comment on the plan through April 30, 2012.

DTE Energy is planning several methods to control the pollution on the site, including removing polluted sediment, and capping and collecting other sources of pollution.

AnnArbor.com's Ryan Stanton reports Ann Arbor city officials are anxious to see it cleaned up:

Ann Arbor officials expect the cleanup to take place starting this summer. DTE has vowed to pay for whitewater improvements along the river as part of the project.

Matt Naud, the city's environmental coordinator, expects the cleanup project will go before the Ann Arbor Planning Commission for site plan approval because it will disturb natural features, but he doesn't expect that to be a significant issue.

"We're just glad this significant level of cleanup is happening," Naud said. "It's a big project. They're going to be moving a lot of soil."