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16th Judicial Circuit Court
40 N Main, Mount Clemens, MI 48043
(586) 469-5208

Public Works Team Finds Two E.coli Hot Spots Found in Warren


Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller along the Red Run Drain, near 14 Mile and Maple Lane, where the Schoenherr Relief Drain empties in to the Red Run. A sheen noticed by a kayaker on the Red Run led to an investigation which uncovered two E.coli hot spots in Warren.

Miller: ‘We Find It, We Fix It’

Stormwater Path From Warren to Lake St. ClairLAIR

E. Coli Hot Spots Found in Warren

Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller has launched an investigation in to two hot spots for E.coli in Warren. Responding to a citizen's complaint, her office has found two locations in that city where it is believed that sanitary sewage is entering county storm drains that ultimately empty in to Lake St. Clair.

The E.coli bacteria is entering the county drains from two city-owned local pipes

  • In a neighborhood between Schoenherr and Bunert, south of 14 Mile Road; and
  • Along the east side of Schoenherr, immediately north of I-696.

Both sites tested positive for the bacteria, which is found in human and animal waste. The test results were literally off the chart -- showing more E.coli than that test was able to count. The maximum test count is approximately 2,400 count of E.coli per milliliter. A count of 300 is enough to close a beach. Both sites tested off the chart.

“We are doing a comprehensive inspection of drains all over Macomb County because there is no one single source of pollution and contaminants. As we inspect drains, we are looking at the condition of the pipe if it is an enclosed drain, and running samples to make sure there are no illicit connections, in other words, some type of sanitary sewerage that should not be in a storm drain. This is what we have found in these two locations and we have notified city officials in Warren and they have assured us they will work with us to identify the point source of their sewer pipe which is somehow entering the county storm sewer,” Miller said.

The MCPW will be following up with the city to ensure corrective action is taken.

The investigation began in late November after a local resident reported seeing a sheen on the Red Run near where the Schoenherr Relief Drain empties in to the creek, just north of 14 Mile Road, west of Schoenherr Road. Since that time, the county has been collecting samples from the Schoenherr Relief Drain and other connecting underground storm sewers, trying to find the source. The county is able to test the samples in a lab at its Chapaton Pump Station in St. Clair Shores.

The MCPW had previously scheduled the Schoenherr Relief Drain for a major structural and illicit connection inspection, slated to begin in early 2018.

"Obviously, when we received this report of a sheen on the Red Run, we accelerated things. We will still be conducting additional testing and conduct a structural review of the Schoenherr Relief, but when we find something like this, we're not going to wait to get it fixed," Miller said. “When we find it, we fix it.”

The MCPW collected and tested samples from more than 20 locations along the drain in an effort to isolate the source. Crews found a 36-inch diameter city pipe at the location near 14 Mile Road and a 72-inch diameter city pipe at the location near I-696. Water from both pipes is entering into the MCPW with the high E.coli counts, meaning the source is somewhere in the Warren pipes.

The Schoenherr Relief Drain was constructed in the early 1950s and runs roughly along Schoenherr Road from 9 Mile Road to the Red Run, just north of 14 Mile Road. One of the hot spots was found on the 14 Mile Schoenherr Relief Drain, which runs east-west along 14 Mile Road. Both drains receive storm water from drains operated by the city, county Dept. of Roads and Michigan Dept. of Transportation. The underground drain varies in size, up to more than 12 feet in diameter where it enters the Red Run.

The Red Run drain is an open waterway that begins in Oakland County and runs through Warren and Sterling Heights before emptying in to the Clinton River near Metro Parkway and Utica Road in Sterling Heights.