Marquette County Road Commission: Water contamination ‘under control at this point’

ISHPEMING — During its August board meeting tonight, the Marquette County Road Commission did not address a citation the Michigan DEQ recently issued against it.

Big Bay-area residents who attended the meeting did address it during public comments. Members of the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve and Concerned Citizens of Big Bay were upset about the illegal discharge of sediment and muddy water into the Salmon Trout River.

“You’ve destroyed our forests, you’ve polluted our water, you have changed everything about this place that can be changed, and now you’re telling me to keep off the grass,” Big Bay resident Cynthia Pryor said.

“I was hoping that this board would be transparent and come forth with information that the public would like to know about it, what they’re doing about it,” Big Bay resident Gene Champagne said. “And not a word about it, as if it didn’t happen. It’s very disappointing.”

The contamination happened because Road Commission excavation on County Road AAA unexpectedly exposed some groundwater. By the time the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve and the DEQ found out, mitigation efforts were already underway.

“That was taken care of very shortly after the sediment left the job site, and that’s being taken care of,” Marquette County Road Commission engineer/manager Jim Iwanicki said. “We did add some extra control measures to make sure it didn’t happen again, and we feel confident that we have that issue under control at this point.”

Road Commission staff members will monitor the Salmon Trout River near the discharge for the remainder of this year’s construction season. The DEQ will use the results of that monitoring to determine if additional action is needed.