Residents can look forward to the completion of the disruptive, but necessary, sewer separation project, one of the alternatives to mitigate the federally-mandated Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Control, toward the end of 2021.

The project, which was originally not anticipated to end until 2025, is operating ahead of schedule and is expected to be completed by November 2021.

The final phase of this sewer separation project will take place in several private parking lots and buildings along Michigan Avenue between Gulley Road and Telegraph Road, as well as the Normandy Apartment Complex, 24320 Michigan Ave. The sewer separation project, which first began in 2006, has upgraded much of the city’s infrastructure, including sewers, water mains and roads.

The project was required by a CSO permit issued by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), and was based on the federal mandate directing Dearborn to eliminate discharge of untreated waste water in the Rouge River.

More than 40 communities, including Dearborn, are in the Rouge River watershed and have been affected by the federal mandate to clean up the river.

Sewer separation is one of the CSO control methods. It adds a second sewer pipe parallel to the existing ones in order to have two separate pipes--one for transporting waste water to a treatment facility, and the other for transporting rainwater to the Rouge River.

Prior to implementing the CSO Control Project, untreated waste water would sometimes combine with rainwater during heavy downpours, and would overflow into the Rouge River. Although this would occur in low volumes, it needed to be addressed. In response, the CSO project serves to mitigate pollution of the Rouge River.

Along with addressing sanitary sewers to improve water quality, Dearborn used this opportunity to replace roads, sidewalks, and water mains, which upgraded and enhanced neighborhoods throughout the city.

In total, 50 miles worth of new concrete roads and 40 miles of new water lines were installed in some neighborhood requiring sewer separations.

In addition, approximately $1.5 million in yearly costs of operation, maintenance, and storm water sewage treatment has been eliminated thanks to this project.

In the 1990s, the concept of constructing a deep rock tunnel to temporarily store a mixture of waste and rain waters was implemented as means of CSO control; however, the project did not succeed and so was abandoned.

Later, in early 2000, construction of a deep sinking caisson concept to temporarily store a mixture of waste and rain waters was implemented to mitigate CSO control. The caisson concept was proven a partial success with three caissons operating and three caissons abandoned; therefore, the caisson concept was abandoned and replaced with sewer separation.

Between the years 2022 and 2026, Dearborn plans to construct a screening and disinfection facility to address the failed caisson sites. The screening and disinfection facility for Dearborn will be constructed along the river and away from the neighborhood, and is also one of the concepts of CSO control.

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