Residents keep up fight over Middlebelt tunnel water issues

A group of Farmington Hills residents say they’ve endured months of bad water caused by an Oakland County tunnel project on Middlebelt Road, and there’s no end in sight.

During Monday’s city council meeting, homeowners from the Greencastle Subdivision pleaded once more with city officials, who say there’s just not much they can do.

Construction began in December on the Middlebelt Transport and Storage Tunnel Project, which stretches along the county road from I-696 to 13 Mile Road. The 3.4 million gallons of additional storm water storage space was designed to reduce sanitary sewer overflows during heavy rains. However, as contractors dewatered soils, some residents reported problems, from bad smelling water to sludge clogging pipes and appliances.

Resident Melanie Williams on Monday broke into tears as she talked about showering in foul-smelling water and said some women have postponed pregnancies until they know the water is safe.

“We need a resolution that involves extending the water main, period,” she said.

Over the past several months, city officials and residents have met with Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash and his staff. Residents also spoke this month with Oakland County commissioners in Pontiac, but said this is more than just a county issue.

Darren Griffiths believes the water problems will affect property values, by as much as a half million dollars, and asked that city officials continue to support residents.

“We do need you to continue this fight with us,” he said. “Something has changed in the aquifer, and it needs to be addressed.”

Mayor Ken Massey urged his colleagues on council to put personal pressure on Nash.

“You all have been wronged,” he told residents.

Council member Richard Lerner pointed out that the total cost of funding this project comes from a large group of water rate payers, and county officials don’t think they can provide water to the subdivision without triggering a lawsuit. He also urged residents to carry on the fight in Pontiac.

“As much as everyone here feels for you…we have no jurisdiction,” he said. “As homeowners, you guys have a lot more power over this than we do.”