Health officials: No contact with Grand, Red Cedar rivers or Rayner, Sycamore creeks
MASON — Unless you want to take a dip in elevated bacteria levels, avoid swimming in local creeks and rivers this weekend.
In fact, health officials are cautioning people to avoid any contact with them at all.
The Ingham County Health Department issued a no contact order on Friday for:
- Rayner Creek.
- Sycamore Creek.
- The Red Cedar River.
- The Grand River downstream from Sycamore Creek.
The order followed a release of wastewater from the Rayner Drain in Mason, according to a statement from the Health department.
William Haun, who supervises land and water in environmental health for the department, said that was necessary because sewage was backing up into people's homes and other low-lying areas in Mason.
"We've had such a wet summer and a wet spring," Haun said. "Right now the sewer system's kind of overwhelmed."
That's true not only for Mason, but also for Lansing and East Lansing.
Lansing's North Retention Basin started overflowing into the Grand River Thursday afternoon, according to a notification from the city. That was followed by a notification of multiple regulators overflowing.
East Lansing issued alerts this week for two overflows — from the Will Marsh drain and the retention treatment basin — but said those both had stopped as of Thursday night.
The Health department will reassess the situation Monday.
Haun hopes the problem is solved by then. He said Mason officials still have to divert some diluted sewage into Rayner Creek, where it flows into Sycamore Creek then the two larger rivers.
In general, officials are "really just hoping that it dries out soon," he said.
There's info available on the health department's Facebook page for anyone who has sewage backing up into their home.
Paul Brogan, who runs a canoe and kayak rental business on the Grand River in Lansing, is keeping his canoes and kayaks off the river on Friday and Saturday because the water is too high and too swift.
It so happens that high, fast water often correlates with higher E. coli counts, said Brogan, of River Town Adventures.
The bacteria count usually falls to safe levels within 48 hours, although there's a larger spike when the area gets such a large amount of rain over such a short time, he said.
"It's certainly extremely frustrating," he said, adding that cities and counties need to fix sewer systems so raw sewage doesn't get released directly into local waterways.
Brogan said his customers have the option of launching on 15-acre Fidelity Lake in Crego Park.
"They can call us, and we'll meet them there with kayaks or canoes," he said.
Contact reporter Megan Banta at (517) 377-1261 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @MeganBanta_1.