False accusations that amusement park plans to dump raw sewage into watershed

Posted at 6:30 PM, Aug 25, 2015

MUSKEGON, Mich. – There's rising concern as well as some misinformation surrounding the sewage plan for the popular West Michigan amusement park Michigan's Adventure.

The amusement park is reauthorizing its permit for its on-site waste water treatment, but some residents are confused why the park does not hook up to the Muskegon County Sewer System.

What first got FOX 17’s attention was an erroneous flyer circulating Facebook that claims Michigan's Adventure is “dumping five million gallons of raw sewage into the Duck Creek Watershed.” The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality verified this is just not true.

For decades, Michigan's Adventure has done its own waste water management on site, and according to DEQ officials the park has had no violations.

"[Michigan’s Adventure] has a system that’s done well and they’re just reauthorizing it because that’s what the law requires,” said Brad Wurfel, Michigan DEQ communications director.

Wurfel said the park is asking for an exemption permit. Since the DEQ’s standard waste water disposal permit caps at an annual average of 10,000 gallons of waste water discharged per day, Michigan's Adventure proposed discharging an annual average of 13,700 gallons per day.

“Our concern at the DEQ obviously is protecting public health and the environment,” said Wurfel. “We’re not so much focused on a number but whether or not they’ve got a system, and a facility, that can effectively treat that without harming the environment or affecting public health and they do.”

On the eastern portion of the park’s property are two holding lagoons where waste water is held temporarily. Longtime watershed resident Valerie Rissi questioned why Michigan's Adventure does not hook up to the county sewer system, which is about 700 feet from the park’s entrance.

"Do we want to wait until afterwards until there's something that overflows, you know whatever catastrophe who knows happens and then we're trying to mediate that?" said Rissi.

However, Wurfel said DEQ personnel are on site testing the process regularly at Michigan’s Adventure, and no treated water runs directly into surface water.

“[Michigan’s Adventure is] periodically taking water that’s been finished, it’s been clean, and they’re feeding it into nearby ground water not into surface water,” said Wurfel.

Michigan's Adventure Vice President and General Manager Camille Jourden-Mark released this statement to FOX 17:

Michigan’s Adventure safely stores and disposes of waste in a responsible manner through our on-site sewage system permitted by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). We are an eco-friendly community partner and comply with all local and state regulations.”

Wurfel said the DEQ take residents' concerns seriously. The department is holding a public comment period on this issue until Sept. 3 online.

Wurfel also said the DEQ may hold a public meeting in the near future; check their website for further information.