Rockwood City Hall: 32409 Fort Road Rockwood, MI 48173 | Phone: (734) 379-9496


Wastewater Treatment: Public Awareness and Participation

Clean water depends on the participation and support of the entire community, from the government, businesses, and schools to individual citizens. Water is essential to everyone, and we all play a role in wastewater treatment. Public support and participation is critical in keeping wastewater treatment operating and maintenance costs down. As discharge limits become more and more stringent public participation becomes more vital.

Prior to November 1, 2004 Mercury was not a parameter included in the Wastewater Plant Discharge NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) Permit. Starting on November 1, 2004 the plant discharge was required to be monitored for mercury and to report the results to the Michigan Department of Environmental Resources (MDEQ). Beginning on October 1, 2005 a limit of a 30 ng/l (parts per trillion) concentration and 0.0003 lbs/day (pounds per day) loading was placed on the plant discharge. On October 1, 2009 this limit was reduced to a 6 ng/l concentration and 0.000050 lbs/day loading based on a 12-month rolling average. The future standard is to be 1.3 ng/l or parts per trillion. To put it in layman's terms, that is roughly the equivalent of one penny in 1 billion dollars. In other words; a very, very low concentration. A wastewater facility is capable of removing some mercury from the wastewater, but not enough to meet the future standard of 1.3 ng/l. Education and public awareness and participation are the most cost effective means to reduce mercury pollution. In the future additional more expensive treatment such as Precipitation (with chemicals), Adsorption, Membrane Filtration, or additional Biological Treatment may be required if mercury discharges are not meeting the NPDES permit requirements.

Most of the mercury in the environment comes from human activities. It enters our lakes, rivers and streams through rain and snow. It enters the sanitary sewer system through the improper disposal of household products and use of products that contain mercury versus a mercury-free alternative. To be on the safe side you should avoid using chlorine bleach and drain cleaners and products that indicate gloves should be worn. If you feel the need to use these products, use the least amount necessary to do the job. Use mercury-free cleaning supplies wherever possible. Always dispose of mercury containing items properly. Take them to your local hazardous waste recycle center. To locate your local recycle center contact Wayne County Household Hazardous Waste line at 734-326-3936 or check their website at Upcoming Events to view upcoming locations and dates. Don't pour them down the drain or throw them in the trash. Talk with your dentist to learn about possible alternatives to mercury amalgam fillings.

Toilets are only meant for one activity and you know what that means. When the wrong thing is flushed, results can include costly backups on your own property or problems at the wastewater treatment plant. You should not flush any items such as baby wipes, diapers, rags, paper towels, cotton swabs, syringes, candy wrappers, food wrappers, clothing labels, cleaning sponges, toys, plastic items, aquarium gravel, cat litter, rubber items, cigarette butts, sanitary napkins, hair, underwear, and disposable toilet brushes. Dispose of items such as window cleaners, paint thinners, grease and pharmaceutical products properly.

If you have any questions or need additional information you may contact the treatment plant staff at 734-379-5652.