Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Flint Postcards: Canoeing on the Flint River
at 8:56 PM
Thanks for commenting. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at www.teardownbook.com.
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The mere thought of canoeing the Flint river sends chills down my spine. I lived downwind from the water treatment plant near Flushing and Linden roads. That unforgettable stink would sometimes travel all the way to downtown Flushing in the 1970's. What a filthy river.ReplyDelete
I'm not sure what the overall quality of the river water is at this point, but I went kayaking on the river this summer in Flushing and it was great. Here's some footage:ReplyDelete
And the Flint River Watershed Coalition is a great organization dedicated to cleaning up the river.
I'm wondering if the lack of industry might be helping the river. This could be a slight silver lining of all the deindustrialization.
I'll hunt around for some info on the water quality of the river.
Went raftting from Behind Atwood to just past Flushing Park in '72.To say the least it was very interesting. ...M.ShelleyReplyDelete
this looks vintage.. nice! thanks for sharing.. :)ReplyDelete
I took my creative writing students canoeing on the Flint River in the fall of '06 and it was a pretty marvelous experience. We set off from the city park in Flushing and paddled down the to nature preserve. I admit about a third of them fell in; one woman fearfully asked if her fertility was thereby compromised. But the river was beautiful and relatively clean; we saw lots of turtles and birds, most notably a couple of herons. The only depressing spot was one place where morons have been dumping tires, apparently for decades...there are probably a couple of hundred of them -- or were then -- visible in the muck. But I do think it's true that improving water quality is one of the side effects of less industry, less GM.ReplyDelete
The river is vastly improved since the 1970's.Discharges into the Flint R. from sewage treatment as well as industrial sources are almost nil. The river is now the primary source of naturally breeding Walleyes in Saginaw Bay,and a healthy fish-fly (a sign of a healthy body of water) hatch is now a summer event near it. The elimination of Buick City, Chevy-in the hole, and their accompanying industries has without doubt helped speed the river's recovery. The biggest pollutant is now silt from farm run-off. Canoeing and kayaking the Flint is a growing activity-it is a beautiful river and will only get better.ReplyDelete
Whoops, not so fast!ReplyDelete
From today in Mlive:
Weekend rain forces Flushing to discharge untreated sanitary sewage into river
Published: Monday, May 16, 2011, 5:14 PM Updated: Monday, May 16, 2011, 5:14 PM
By Kayla Habermehl | The Flint Journal The Flint Journal
FLUSHING, Michigan — The City of Flushing discharged "rain-diluted untreated sanitary sewage" in to the Flint River after the weekend's rain, according to a statement from the city.
The discharge occurred at about 4 p.m. on May 15. The rain caused the system to exceed it's capacity, leading to the discharge, according to the statement.
The Genesee County Health Department "recommends against any contact with the Flint River downstream of the release," according to the statement.
The city notified the Department of Environmental Quality, the health department as well as Flushing Township, Montrose and Montrose Township, according to the statement.
© 2011 MLive.com. All rights reserved.
They don't call it Flushing for nothing.ReplyDelete
Hey, this just means we can blame Flushing for the condition of the river, not Flint.ReplyDelete
Way to go Flushing! I don't think those are Baby Ruths floating downstream.ReplyDelete
I have no knowledge of river dumping rights or whatever the term is, and I recognize there may be no other options after torrential rains, but doesn't it seem like this should be illegal? I mean local gov'ts spend a lot of money to clean up rivers and streams, only to dump raw sewage in them. Anyone know anything about the rights and laws that govern these actions?ReplyDelete
It have lived in a couple of towns (Birmingham MI and Atlanta GA) that basically had to undertake massive projects to get out from under massive EPA fine loads for failing to address this type of problem. Both projects needed ballot measures for bond debt, so I got a mini-education. It seems that the design of sewer systems prevalent in the early part of the 20th century were 'combined' meaning that rainwater, industrial, and household waste all dumped into one sewer system, and it all went to the treatment plant. This is great until big storms hit, then the capacity of the system is exceeded, and the overflow goes into rivers/streams etc. I believe more modern designs separate storm systems from waste systems, and you see the sewers labeled warning you that the water flows straight to the sea/river/lake. I think if this happens rarely the EPA says OK, but if it is constant (like in Bham and ATL), they start fining folks.ReplyDelete
I think the only options are a new mega expensive non-combined sewer system, or basically building giant overflow tanks and mini-treatment plants. B'ham and Atl opted for the latter.
Not sure what system Flushing has, but sounds like the same thing... I just pulled this link http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/home.cfm?program_id=5
And more than you need to know:ReplyDelete
I would imagine that the County Drain Commissioner's office has the rules and regs on what is and what isn't legal in this case. I know this for a fact...it's a policy that has been used in the past. Last summer there was a similar dumping. I believe, by the City of Flint.ReplyDelete
Jim and Unclebuck, thanks for the info. This reminded me of a conversation I had with an urban planner in Cleveland about the combined system there. Every big rain, the rainwater and waste flowed into Lake Erie. I think they're working to address the issue now.ReplyDelete
Even though I'm sure this post probably cost you 10 readers, last bit of sewer research... looks like all the Genesee County discharges are from Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO). The good news - at least there are not combined sewers. The bad news, it seems these are usually due to failing systems because storm water should not affect a well maintained and designed sanitary sewer. They seem to be regarded as worse in that the overflow (Baby Ruths) are undiluted.ReplyDelete
Changing subjects... how 'bout them Tigers?
Jim, it's nice that you assume I ever had more than ten readers. And you are now the official sewer correspondent. Please file two stories per day by 6 p.m. each day.ReplyDelete
I like how an article that starts out with a picture of a nicely dressed lady in a canoe ends up debating "Baby Ruths" and the legal/illegal discharge of them! We can always break it down to being about poo!ReplyDelete
Yes, Stringbean, we took this wholesome story and dragged it into the sewer. I guess that's what blogs are for.ReplyDelete
Back in the 70's there used to be the Flint River Raft race. My brother and cousins entered it with a raft of a shark in homage to "Jaws"... I feel like I've posted this info before... but boats on a river reminded me of it. Can't recall who sponsored it... maybe 105.5FM? Be nice to have that again if the river is cleaned up (that is after the babe ruths float down river).ReplyDelete