Milky white substance found in Sterling Heights storm drain water

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Macomb County Public Works Office inspectors are investigating the presence of an unknown white, milky substance in the Burr Relief Drain No. 2, which serves an industrial area in central Sterling Heights. 

The substance in the drain, which appears to have fully discolored the water in a portion of the drain, was first reported Thursday afternoon to the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality. 

The Burr Relief is located east of Mound Road and south of 18 Mile Road. It feeds into the Plumbrook Drain, a much larger waterway, which runs diagonally from the northwestern corner to the southeastern corner of Sterling Heights before discharging into the Red Run in Clinton Township. 

Crews have begun the process of installing booms and a curtain to prevent the material from traveling farther downstream, even as the investigation has begun to its original source. The containment devices are being placed at the convergence of the Burr Relief #2 and the Plumbrook. 

"This is a very troubling image. The water looks just like milk passing by. We cannot, we simply cannot, continue to treat our environment this way," said Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice S. Miller. "This drain travels through people's backyards and ultimately into Lake St Clair. We have zero tolerance for contaminates in our waterways."

Public Works and other responding crews will be working on the response as long as necessary to contain the materials.