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Illicit Discharges/Onsite Sewage Disposal Systems


Representatives of the Rouge Project have developed numerous technical reports concerning illicit discharges as well as onsite sewage disposal systems. See also Rouge Project Presentations on the Illicit Discharge Elimination Program for more general information on this program. It is important to note that there are a number of reports at other locations on this web site that focus on specific topics that the Rouge Project addresses. The reader should click on the other sections of the web site to view those reports. To view those reports, click on Wetlands, Watershed Management, Geographic Information Systems/Data Management, Non-point Source Pollution, Illicit Discharges/Onsite Sewage Disposal Systems, Financial and Institutional Arrangements, Modeling and Monitoring, and Combined Sewer Overflows for general information on the program.
  1. 1994 Rouge River Headwaters On-Site Sewage Disposal System Survey
  2. 1995 Rouge River Headwaters On-Site Sewage Disposal System Survey
  3. City of Westland Illicit Connection Program
  4. Comparison Analysis of Alternatives for Finding Illicit Discharges to Storm Water Systems
  5. Development and Implementation of the Regulation for the Inspection of OSDS at the Time of Property Transfer
  6. Did You Know...The Impact of On-Site Sewage Systems And Illicit Discharges On The Rouge River
  7. Estimated Total Pollution Delivered to Rouge River by Illicit Connections
  8. Facility Illicit Connection Inspection Program
  9. From Theory to Implementation-Finding Illicit Connections
  10. Homeowners Onsite Sewage Disposal Public Education Project
  11. Illicit Connections Investigation Program Annual Report - 1994
  12. Oakland County Septage Unloading Facility
  13. Onsite Sewage Disposal System Data Model
  14. On-Site Sewage Disposal Systems Project Within the Tonquish Creek Basin and Middle 3 Subwatershed Area
  15. OSDS Evaluation and Maintenance Program in Wayne County
  16. Quantitative Analysis of Data from the Rouge River On-Site Sewage Disposal System Surveys
  17. Storm Water Drainage Data Definition Document
  18. Successes of the Wayne County's IDEP Training Program
  19. Summary of Illicit Connection Detection Programs in Michigan
  20. The Do's and Don'ts on Implementing a Successful Illicit Connection Program

1994 Rouge River Headwaters On-Site Sewage Disposal System Survey

Krinn, Keith L., Carlson William T., Cyranski Eugene C., Drescher Paul D., Murphy Brian J., and Laura M. Stasiewicz

Supplemental Report, August 1994, 54 pages, Order Number: NPS-SR04.00 ***

The Oakland County Health Division identified approximately 160 sewage disposal system failures occurring since January of 1990 along the headwaters of the Rouge River system within the cities of Farmington Hills and Southfield. An innovative method of dye testing for on-site sewage disposal system failure was used in order to determine if the nonpoint source (NPS) pollution from failing septic systems degrades the water quality of the Rouge River. Field and laboratory procedures specific for a river project were developed. Fecal coliform sampling was carried out at 46 sites. Over 90 percent of the sample sites exceeded the standard limits for surface water quality. The results of testing showed that water quality standards were met for dissolved oxygen, pH, and temperature. A macroinvertebrate study was also conducted at most of the sites. A total of 65 houses were dye tested, with 52.3 percent and testing positive (34 houses). Included is a detailed discussion of the results. Data, charts and maps are included.

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1995 Rouge River Headwaters On-Site Sewage Disposal System Survey

Krinn, Keith, Carlson William, Petitt Julia, Yates Eric, Bungee Kelly and Brian Allen

Supplemental Report, March 1996, 28 pages, Order Number: NPS-SR05.00 **

This document presents the results of the on-site sewage disposal system survey conducted in Oakland County in 1995. Failing on-site systems are known to be sources of pollutants to local receiving streams. This survey was the continuation of the on-site system survey begun by the Oakland County Department of Public Health in 1994. Results are presented from the surveys conducted to define surface water quality (bacteria, pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity), macroinvertebrate communities, and failure rates of individual on-site sewage disposal systems (dye tests).

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City of Westland Illicit Connection Program

Barry Johnson

Project Profile, March 2002, 2 pages, Order Number: M3-12 *

This project profile is a summary of the results of a grant funded effort performed with local community funding or in kind services. The summary focuses on the demonstration aspects of the project.

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  • M3-12 (162 KB - PDF file)

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Comparison Analysis of Alternatives for Finding Illicit Discharges to Storm Water Systems

Technical Report, February 2007, 35 pages, Order Number: RPO-WMGT-TR66 **

Seven years of IDEP data, from 1999 through 2005, were collected from communities and counties in the Rouge River Watershed. The IDEP methods of Outfall Reconnaissance Inventory (ORI), hotline complaint reporting, dye testing, and on-site disposal system (OSDS) inspection were evaluated to assess their overall effectiveness for finding and eliminating illicit discharges to storm water systems. The purpose of this report is to present the findings of the comparative analysis of the data that was received from the communities and counties.

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Development and Implementation of the Regulation for the Inspection of OSDS at the Time of Property Transfer

Barry Johnson

Project Profile, March 2002, 2 pages, Order Number: OSS-02 *

This project profile is a summary of the results of a grant funded effort performed with local community funding or in kind services. The summary focuses on the demonstration aspects of the project.

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Did You Know...The Impact of On-Site Sewage Systems And Illicit Discharges On The Rouge River

Johnson Barry & Dean Tuomari

Paper, February 1998, 10 pages, Order Number: UrbanRetro98-02.00 **

The Rouge River in southeast Michigan suffers from various pollution sources. The Rouge Project is focusing on restoring the river's water quality, but this will not happen until illicit discharges are eliminated. On-site sewage disposal systems (OSDS) and illicit discharges are major contributors to groundwater and surface water pollution in the Rouge River. The illicit connection program has used several methods to identify these pollutants. This paper presents five methods used by the Rouge Project: dye testing of plumbing and OSDS; visual observations of manholes, outfalls and OSDS; aerial photography; televising storm sewers; and testing for ammonia, surfactants, E. Coli and isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen.

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Estimated Total Pollution Delivered to Rouge River by Illicit Connections

Jeff Boerma, Barry Johnson

Activity Book, February 1997, 5 pages, Order Number: ILLICIT *

This memorandum summarizes the methods used to determine an estimate of total pollution delivered to the Rouge River by illegal connections to the storm sewer system (“illicit connections”). Information used to determine total pollution from illicit connections came from the Rouge Program Office Technical Memorandum “ Summary of Illicit Connection Detection Programs in Michigan” (RPO-NPS01A-TM01.00, Pomeroy, 1996), the Illicit Connection Program Annual Reports and the quarterly reports of the Wayne County Department of Public Health Environmental Health Division and Wayne County Department of the Environment, Watershed Management Division (1987- Sept. 1996).

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Facility Illicit Connection Inspection Program

Dean Tuomari & Susan Thompson

Standard Operating Procedure, December 2011, 30 pages, Order Number: IDEP-SOP-2011 **

This standard operating procedure (SOP) addresses the tasks performed by the field crews during the on-site inspection portion of the Wayne County Illicit Discharge and Elimination Program (IDEP). It includes the field procedures for conducting: (1) dye testing of the plumbing fixtures; and (2) evaluating the general housekeeping and chemical storage practices on the premises.

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From Theory to Implementation-Finding Illicit Connections

Barry Johnson & Dean Tuomari

Paper, May 1998, 7 pages, Order Number: WEFSPEC98-02 **

The Rouge River Watershed located in southeastern Michigan encompasses approximately 438 square miles. A primary objective of the Rouge Project is to demonstrate how to address and correct urban wet weather pollution problems. However, water quality objectives in the Rouge River Watershed will not be achieved unless illicit discharges are eliminated. The Rouge Project illicit connection program has utilized several methods to identify sources of illicit discharges, but first, a method to prioritize areas for detailed evaluations had to be developed. A GIS database was established to assist in this area. This paper focuses on five method used to provide information to prioritize areas of the watershed for detailed investigation. Those include: dye testing of plumbing and on-site sewage disposal systems; visual observations of manholes, outfalls and on-site sewage disposal systems; aerial photography; televising of storm sewers; and testing for ammonia, surfactants, E. coli and isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen.

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Homeowners Onsite Sewage Disposal Public Education Project

Barry Johnson

Project Profile, October 2002, 2 pages, Order Number: OSS-05 **

This project was developed to provide educational information to homeowners about onsite disposal systems and how they should be maintained.

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Illicit Connections Investigation Program Annual Report - 1994

Wayne County Department of Public Health - Environmental Health Division

Technical Report, January 1995, 31 pages, Order Number: RPO-NPS-TR48 **

The Rouge River Remedial Action Plan (RAP) has reported illicit connections, the improper discharge of wastewater through storm sewers, as a source of pollution to the river. The County of Wayne has undertaken a program to reduce pollution to the Rouge River by locating and eliminating illicit connections. By agreement between the Wayne County Department of Public Health and the Wayne County Division of Public Works, the dye-testing program to discover illicit connections was performed January 1, 1994 through December 31, 21994. This report summarized activities for the 1994 calendar year.

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Oakland County Septage Unloading Facility

Barry Johnson

Project Profile, February 2003, 2 pages, Order Number: OSS-01 *

The objective of the Oakland County Septage Unloading Facility grant was to provide a septage disposal facility that was easy for septage haulers to use, could accommodate vactor truck waste and would be fully automated and accessible 24 hours a day.

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Onsite Sewage Disposal System Data Model

Charlie Bristol

Preliminary Data Report, April 1999, 24 pages, Order Number: OSDSDM **

Onsite Sewage Disposal System Data Model: The ultimate goal of this data model is to provide the Rouge River watershed communities with a database design template that focuses on the development of the Onsite Sewage Disposal System (OSDS) coverage’s and related attribute tables. The database tables described in this report were developed through several workshop meetings and incorporate comments from Rouge communities. There are three types of Rouge communities who will benefit from this document: (1) Communities that are building just an attribute database for OSDS. This type of community may or may not have GIS tools available to supplement their work; (2) Communities that are building their GIS using ArcView and planning to store the attributes in some desktop database environment; and (3) Communities that are building their GIS using Arc/Info and store their attributes in INFO tables or a relational database management system like ORACLE, Informix or Ingres, linked to Arc/Info.

The information provided in this report assumes that the feature attribute tables presented in this document are going to eventually be a graphic feature in the community GIS. This is very important for those communities building just the attribute tables at this time to meet the requirements of the general permit OR those communities building just the spatial graphic features at this time.

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On-Site Sewage Disposal Systems Project Within the Tonquish Creek Basin and Middle 3 Subwatershed Area

Wayne County Department of Public Health Environmental Health Division

Community Project, October 1998, 6 pages, Order Number: CP-M308-01.00 **

This report is the task product of the Wayne County Department of Public Health - Environmental Health Division "Septic System Database & Evaluation Project" that was completed as part of the original round of community stormwater projects. This report includes the results of field surveys of homes with on-site sewage disposal systems (OSDS) in the communities of Canton Township, Dearborn Heights, Garden City, Livonia, Plymouth Township, Redford, and Westland. The field survey identified failing OSDS and those OSDS with a high potential for failing by evaluating site conditions in the area of the septic field. Observations of vegetation, standing water near the drain field, cheater pipes and raw sewage were recorded. Staff on the project completed 421 field surveys in the seven community study area. The average failure rate for the 421 OSDS surveyed was 21 percent.

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OSDS Evaluation and Maintenance Program in Wayne County

Barry Johnson

Project Profile, March 2002, 2 pages, Order Number: OSS-04 *

This project profile is a summary of the results of a grant funded effort performed with local community funding or in kind services. The summary focuses on the demonstration aspects of the project.

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Quantitative Analysis of Data from the Rouge River On-Site Sewage Disposal System Surveys

Rathbun, Joseph and Louis Regenmorter

Technical Memorandum, July 1996, 32 pages, Order Number: NPS-TM11.00.96

A quantitative analysis was performed to defined the relationship between different water quality measures and on-site sewage disposal system (on-site system) performance.

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Storm Water Drainage Data Definition Document

Activity Book, April 1999, 30 pages, Order Number: SWDATA **

Storm Water Drainage Structure Definition: This document was developed to provide Rouge River watershed communities with an attribute database for their storm water drainage system. The information provide in this report focus on communities that are building their GIS using ArcView and planning to store the attributes in some desktop database environment; and communities that are building their GIS using Arc/Info storing their attributes in INFO tables or a relational database management system like ORACLE, Informix or Ingres. Section one (1) of this report describes the features of the Storm Water Tables. These features consist of all three types (arcs); (points); (nodes); and areas (polygons). A definition table is defined for each storm water drainage feature. Section two (2) features the Storm Water Drainage Look up Tables. These look up tables support the main feature tables by storing commonly used data. A definition table in section is also defined. Section three defines three ArcInfo tables: (1) Node Attribute (NAT); (2) Arc Attribute Table (AAT); and (3) Polygon Attribute Table (PAT). Section four lists the four communities that will be building their storm water drainage database and conducting mapping using ArcView. This document is a great starting point for communities using only database application or ArcView.

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Successes of the Wayne County's IDEP Training Program

Dean Tuomari and Susan Thompson

Paper, August 2002, 11 pages, Order Number: STORMCON2002-01 **

The Wayne County Illicit Connection/Discharge Elimination Training Program was created and implemented in 1999. The program was developed to provide training for local and regional governments responsible for locating and eliminating illicit discharges to surface waters. The key goals of the training program are sharing our expertise with other local units of government involved in stormwater management and collaborating efforts in reducing improper discharges to surface water. The Wayne County Training Program is consistent with the Illicit Discharge Elimination Plan (IDEP) requirements of the Michigan Voluntary Storm Water Permit (MIG6100000) and the EPA Phase II Stormwater Permit Regulations. The training program consists of five (5) modules and specialty training program sessions. The modules are: Overview, Basic Investigations, Advanced Investigations, Combined Basic/Advanced Investigations, and two (2) specialty training sessions. As a result of the training program efforts through May 1, 2002, 82 illicit discharges are eliminated, preventing an estimated 3.5 million gallons/year of polluted water from entering Michigan surface waters.

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Summary of Illicit Connection Detection Programs in Michigan

Pomeroy, Christine, Cave Kelly and Dean Tuomari

Technical Memorandum, February 1996, 81 pages, Order Number: NPS01A-TM01.00 **

This documents summarizes two types of programs used to detect illicit connections to storm sewer systems in Michigan: the trace dye method by the WCDOE and the colormetric test kit field screening method used by municipalities to complete Part 1 NPDES Municipal Storm water Permit Applications.

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The Do's and Don'ts on Implementing a Successful Illicit Connection Program

Dean Tuomari

Activity Book, October 1999, 13 pages, Order Number: SUCILCON **

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Last Updated: 5/18/02

Please address all comments and suggestions about the contents of this Web page to rougeweb@co.wayne.mi.us.

The Rouge River National Wet Weather Demonstration Project is funded, in part, by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Grants #XP995743-01, -02, -03, -04, -05, -06, -08 and C-264000-01.