Michigan House Approves Urgent Funding For Macomb County Sinkhole

Bill to protect people, property draws overwhelming bipartisan support
Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Michigan House today overwhelmingly approved a funding bill urgently needed to address health and safety issues related to the Macomb County sinkhole emergency.

The bill approved with bipartisan support includes $3 million from the state to help protect people, property and the environment from potential sewage overflows as crews continue to address the sinkhole that developed in late December. A state of emergency continues in the area.

“Time is of the essence when it comes to the sinkhole emergency,” said Rep. Jeff Yaroch, R-Richmond, who sponsored the funding bill approved by the House. “We have to act now to protect public safety and health. If we have another heavy rain, we can’t afford to have raw sewage backing up into our residents’ homes and polluting the Clinton River, Lake St. Clair and beyond. Our Great Lakes are too important to not just Macomb County, but the entire Great Lakes region, so we can’t afford any delays in this project.”

Republicans and Democrats joined forces to support the bill with a sense of urgency. The House Appropriations Committee approved the measure earlier in the day.

“Hard-working families have enough to worry about without adding sinkholes and infrastructure problems to the list,” said Rep. Patrick Green, D-Warren. “I’m grateful that the state Legislature is moving quickly to repair the sinkhole in Macomb County and to take steps to make sure this won’t happen again.”

“I am pleased to see Macomb County receive additional funding to deal with the sinkhole disaster,” said state Rep. Kevin Hertel, D-St. Clair Shores. “This tells homeowners and businesses that we are focused on doing all we can to help with these massive infrastructure repairs.”

The money approved by the House would go toward building a long-term bypass around the sewer collapse that started the sinkhole. The project is needed to prevent sewage from backing up into homes and waterways.

“We need to make sure we do what we can to protect people in our communities, as well as the environment and our precious natural resources,” said Rep. Diana Farrington, R-Utica. “This funding is an essential part of that effort.”

Legislators praised the bipartisan support and quick action.

“I am glad to be a part of this effort to continue helping our Macomb County communities affected by this sinkhole disaster,” said state Rep. Henry Yanez, D-Sterling Heights. “Acting now to send additional help will prevent the situation from worsening.”

The Macomb County sinkhole started along 15 Mile Road in Fraser, but its effects have spread across the region.

“The impact is broad and devastating,” said Rep. Steve Marino, R-Harrison Township. “This disaster affects more than 500,000 people, nearly a dozen communities and Selfridge Air National Guard Base. These residents need and deserve our help, and the Legislature must deliver that help.”

Rep. Bill Sowerby, D-Clinton Township, echoed those sentiments.

“Many residents and businesses of my district are severely impacted, along with several families having lost their homes, due to this infrastructure collapse,” Sowerby said. “I am pleased to join my Macomb County colleagues and vote for this additional money to help with the infrastructure repairs.”

Many local communities remain urged to limit water usage to avoid strain on the system.

“This is a team effort to get through this across Macomb County,” said Rep. Pamela Hornberger, R-Chesterfield Township. “And the urgency can’t be stressed enough. That’s why we need to move swiftly approving this legislation to help clear the financial obstacles needed for this critical repair work.”

Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, agreed.

“You can’t see sewer pipes. You can’t see water pipes. But they need to be kept in good repair, just like the roads and bridges we see every day do,” Lucido said. “I’m proud to stand with my colleagues in support of this help for Macomb County.”

Said Rep. John Chirkun, D-Roseville: “I’ve heard from many constituents who are concerned about the state of our infrastructure since the sinkhole opened up, and I’m glad that I’ll be able to tell them that the state is taking action to address the problem. Moving forward, I will work to see our state invest in maintaining and updating our infrastructure to prevent another sinkhole opening up here or anywhere else in Michigan.”

The bill approved today by the House now goes to the Senate for consideration.