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Investigations and Facility Dye Testing Inspections

Illicit connections and discharges are substantial pollutant sources to Wayne County surface waters. Eliminating these pollutant sources minimizes the loading of nutrients and other contaminants to Wayne County watersheds, improving water quality, leading to healthier river ecosystems and enhanced recreational opportunities.

An illicit discharge is the spilling, discharge, or dumping of polluting materials directly or indirectly into surface water. Illicit connections are pipes intended to drain to a sanitary sewer that are improperly connected to a storm sewer that drains to surface water. An example of an illicit discharge is a spilled or dumped polluting material getting washed into a storm sewer by rain or snow.


Illicit sewage discharge to the Middle Rouge River


Storm sewer filled with oily debris

The Water Quality Management Division (WQMD) staff actively identifies and eliminates potential and existing improper discharges and sanitary sewer connections to storm water systems and open waterways. Wayne County initiated its Illicit Discharge Elimination Program (IDEP) in 1987 and targets commercial, industrial, and institutional facilities and buildings. Illicit discharges and connections are identified by dye testing facility sanitary drainage systems. A highly visible dye is introduced into a building's plumbing fixtures (e.g., sinks, toilets, floor drains, etc.) and proper or improper sanitary sewer connections are verified by visually monitoring sanitary sewers, storm sewers and surface drainage systems exiting the building and worksite.

WQMD staff observe "house keeping" issues and look for signs of illicit discharges or material handling/storage practices that may allow material to migrate to a storm drain or watercourse. Facilities found to have improper sanitary sewer connections or illicit discharges to the storm sewer system, or to an open waterway, are notified. WQMD staff work with facility owner/managers and local community staff to ensure corrective actions are taken and compliance with federal, state, and local regulations is achieved.

For the past several years, the Water Quality Management Division focused its dye-testing activities on businesses and facilities throughout Wayne County. These activities directly support other efforts to restore and protect Wayne County water quality and to increase recreational opportunities in Wayne County watersheds. Wayne County's program is very effective in protecting surface water quality, having prevented an estimated 751,883,000 gallons of polluted water from entering Wayne County surface waters in 2013.

For more information regarding Wayne County's Illicit Discharge Elimination Program, please refer to the Gereral Storm Water Discharge Permit Annual reports on the Permit Overview page.


WQMD staff monitoring a sewer manhole for tracing dye

For more information about this project, please contact Noel Mullett at 734-326-4486.