EGLE Investigating Village of Bellaire’s Wastewater Treatment Plant after 13 Million Gallons of Partially Treated Sewage was Released

The Village of Bellaire’s wastewater treatment plant is now under investigation.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) is leading the investigation after millions of gallons of partially treated sewage were released.

Bellaire’s wastewater operator was suspended after the village’s department of public works supervisor noticed the dangerously high water levels in the final holding lagoon.

“There was a possibility that it could overtop the earth and berm that contains it or were burst through that berm. And that could have caused contamination, property damage, flooding at the facility,” said Jeff Johnston, Public Information Officer for EGLE.

The DPW supervisor reported the situation to EGLE when he found out EGLE also had a violation against the wastewater operator.

“We didn’t give permission or a permit to release the water but we let them know they needed to do what they had to do to protect the facility,” said Johnston.

The high water levels forced the plant to release 13 million gallons of partially treated sewage.

“Normal processes were bypassed to alleviate that emergency situation, specifically the last stage of decontamination where the water is filtered and tested before it’s released,” said Johnston.

The Village of Bellaire says there is no risk to the public right now.

Bellaire’s village council is expected to decide this week if and when the operator will return from suspension.

“This is a process where we want to find out what went wrong and make sure that there are plans put in place to keep it from happening again and to make sure that that this facility can accommodate the amount of wastewater coming through it,” said Johnston. “We’ll be looking to the village to propose solutions, and we’ll weigh in and find those solutions and how effective we think they can be. “