Treated wastewater discharged into Saginaw rivers

A rainy weekend in central Michigan caused 60 million gallons of treated wastewater to be released into two Saginaw County rivers.

Officials say the treated wastewater was released from two treatment plants, into the Saginaw and Tittabawassee rivers, this weekend. They say the discharged wastewater is not a health risk to residents and was a result of heavy rains in a short period of time.

Thomas McDowell is with the Department of Environmental Quality. He said the water is stored in basins where it is safe to discharge if needed.

“They actually have their own discharge limits or criteria they have to meet before they can discharge. But the discharges from these retention basins actually meets water quality standards,” McDowell said.

McDowell said E. Coli testing is required in the river after a discharge. He said E. Coli levels in the river are far below regulatory limits and pose no health risks.

John Henning is the superintendent of the Saginaw Charter Township Wastewater Treatment Plant which he said released over 3 million gallons of water Sunday.

He said water is processed and treated before going to a retention basin.

“It goes into a retention basin where it is settled out and then it’s disinfected,” Henning said, “If it discharges- because this basin holds 6 million gallons- once that basin is full then it overflows into the Tittabawassee river. But it is settled out and then it is disinfected with chlorine.”

Henning said after a discharge into the river, the plant checks E. Coli levels in the river, and that the levels are safe. He said so far this year the plant has had three other discharges.