MACOMB COUNTY, Mich. (WJBK) - A full day of rain and more expected in the forecast and rain is the last thing the Macomb County public works commissioner Candice Miller wants to see right now.
"Every time I see rain coming I think oh my gosh I hope we don't have to discharge (sewage)," said Miller.
A sinkhole in Fraser took out two houses and a sewer line three months ago and there have been consequences as a result.
"There are about 600,000 people who utilize this, like 150,000 homes and maybe another 50,000 businesses and about 600,000 people whose sewage goes through this interceptor," Miller said.
When the rain falls, Miller heads to a control room watching water levels rise and fall.
"We do have the ability to be able to detect when we are getting that close before it starts backing up into people's basements and that's when we have to flip a switch and discharge," she said.
In addition to monitoring at computer there is also someone at the sinkhole 24/7 ready to flip the switch.
It nearly came to that roughly a month ago, when two inches of rain fell in a short time period.
"We came within about an inch of having to discharge into the Clinton River, ultimately into Lake St. Clair," she said.
If it comes to that miller says there are safe guards in place - chlorine can be injected into the system to treat the sewage.
"That would really mitigate substantially the damage to environment," Miller said.
The alternative is having that same sewage back-flow into people’s homes and businesses and that’s the last thing they want.
"It really is a constant balancing act and it's ok when it's not raining," Miller said. "But when it rains on a day like today. We are very concerned."
The commissioner says if people just conserve water during rainy days it can go a long way in preventing a potential discharge. Otherwise a permanent fix should be in place by September.