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Two floods, two weeks and too much water

Dan Wanschura

The second extreme rain event in two weeks has led to yet another sewage spill in the Boardman River in Traverse City.


A public health advisory has gone into effect, and the Grand Traverse County Health Department has advised the public to stay out of the water at beaches including Clinch Park, Sunset Park, Bryant Park and the Grand Traverse Senior Center. 


About 2,500 gallons of sewage leaked into the Boardman River after Traverse City’s aging sewer system was overwhelmed by heavy rains Wednesday night..  The GTCHD is sampling the water for E. coli Thursday afternoon.


Arthur Krueger, director of municipal utilities for Traverse City, said the weather has been unlike anything he’s dealt with before.


“We have people who have worked for the city for almost 30 years that have not experienced anything like this, and to have two events so close is disturbing,” Krueger said.


He added that the city is reviewing the sewer system for any problem areas and doing the best they can to prevent another spill in the future.


About 2.88 inches of rain fell during Wednesday’s storm.  That’s a lot, according to Michael Boguth, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Gaylord.


“Traverse City for the whole month of June will normally average under four inches of rain,” Boguth said. “So they got more than half their monthly rain within a few hours.”


Even though this is the second large storm in Traverse City in two weeks, Boguth said it would be extremely unusual to be hit with another large storm anytime soon.  However, other parts of the state will likely be hit with more frequent heavy rainstorms throughout the remainder of the season, he said.


Northern Michigan is experiencing a wetter summer than usual, as it has for the past few years.  As a result, the Great Lakes’ water levels are now a few inches higher than the previous record set in the 1980’s.