County Commissioner Sheds Some Light on Water and Sewage Problem in White Lake Residential Area

The problem worsens as septic fields fail and raw sewage appears in front of several homes in the neighborhood

White Lake, MI – Susan Downey is a single, self-employed homeowner working hard to maintain a home in a neighborhood with a serious water problem. She has done some research and discovered that there is a way to fix the problem but local government authorities refuse to spend the money. A de-watering system could be installed but no one will take the responsibility.

Susan has contacted the Oakland County Road Commission (OCRC) to inquire about fixing the leaching system in front of several homes where standing water is present. Heavy rain has added to the problem as it has brought raw sewage into the picture. Someone on higher ground has a failing septic system that has got into an old abandoned storm drain that ends in front of homes on lower ground. The Oakland County Health Department has responded and performed dye tests on homes in the area, and the investigation is still in progress.

The sewage problem began at the home on 5060 Lake Grove, the street behind Susan’s home. The homeowner though he would solve the problem by filling in the ditch in front of his home with dirt and cinder blocks. “I understand the abandoned drain that runs through a vacated alley discharges there,” said Downey. “His filling in the ditch resulted in sending the raw sewage through the system to my next door neighbor’s home. When another neighbor, who does not want to be named, called the OCRC, they sent someone out to look at it and the guy (from the OCRC) said there was nothing wrong with the homeowner filling in the ditch! I was under the impression that we were not supposed to tamper with their (failing) leaching system!”

Susan purchased her home in the summer of 2008 and soon noticed a problem that she has not seen before. Sure, water will fill the ditch for a short time after a rainstorm, but it should drain away within a reasonable amount of time. When she called the Oakland County Road Commission they said it was not their problem unless it caused a hazard to the road. White Lake Township offices also deny responsibility.

Her next step was to call her area County Commissioner, Jim Runestad. At first, he appeared sympathetic and made some calls, but was unable to provide a solution. Susan spoke to him again in the spring of this year (2013) and he said that he has met with the OCRC and they claim that there is nothing they can do to help. He also informed Downey that the neighborhood used to be swamp land with a high water table and that the developers should have never been given permits to build homes there!

“I wonder who the developers had to pay off to get the permits!” Susan said. “I realize this was over 40 years ago when the homes were built and the actual person may not be in office any more, but some authority is responsible. My home should have never been built! And now there are serious health issues with mosquitoes in standing water and raw sewage!”

The Oakland County Road Commission and White Lake Township deny responsibility and the County Commissioner, Jim Runestad cannot help either. Susan and area homeowners just want to know who can help. “The OCRC says they do not have the funds to fix the problem,” said Downey. “So, what if I don’t have the funds to pay my property taxes? Could I just say, sorry, no money, and get away with it?

Who is responsible for handling the standing water problem? Who has the authority? Susan just wants answers. Visit to learn more and see pictures.

About Susan Downey: Susan Downey is a White Lake homeowner and tax payer. She and her neighbors are concerned with a problem that has plagued them for years. They have contacted the township and the county, OCRC, Oakland County Health Department, and County Commissioner, Jim Runestad about the problem and have been unable to obtain a satisfactory solution.

White Lake Homeowners Concerned with Raw Sewage Found in OCRC Leaching Systems

Ground water rises to alarming levels, causing several health concerns for White Lake Residents


White Lake, MI – The Oakland County Road Commission (OCRC) has been contacted numerous times about a standing water problem in a residential area of White Lake. The leaching systems in front of several homes in one neighborhood have failed, resulting in standing water remaining in their front yards for months. It doesn’t leach into the ground as it should. This means that the only solution is to install a pumping system to move the water to a nearby lake or swamp, which the OCRC refuses to do.

Area residents are concerned with health issues like mosquitoes that breed in standing water, mold in wet crawlspaces and now raw sewage in front of homes! There is no way to fix a wet crawl space when there is no place to pump the water to.

Homeowner, Susan Downey has contacted the Oakland County Road Commission several times, beginning in July, 2009, to be told that they just do not have the funds to take care of it. Now the problem has escalated with ground water levels rising to the point of mixing with septic drain fields and coming out in ditches in front of homes. “I walked by a house and the smell was disgusting!” said Downey. “The home is located at 5060 Lake Grove, the street behind me. Now my front yard is infested with mosquitoes and my back yard smells like a fart!”

Someone has filled the ditch at 5060 Lake Grove in with dirt and cinder blocks. “I’m not sure if they should have done that,” said Downey. “I understand that the ditch is OCRC property and we are not supposed to fill them in or tamper with their (failing) system.”

Susan Downey and several other homeowners in the area have received a letter from the Oakland County Health Department demanding that they respond within 7 days or face legal action. The concern was with the sewage in front of the home at 5060 Lake Grove (68,670 ml/100 e-coli) according to their report. They believe the problem is with a septic system in the area failing to contain the sewage. Everyone who is a victim of the standing water problem has received this letter.

“It’s not fair,” said Downey. “When I contacted the OCRC 4 years ago about a health concern, they did absolutely nothing! Now I am being threatened with legal action if I don’t comply within 7 days!”

The last time someone from the Oakland County Road Commission was out, the guys stood around it, looking at it, and one of them said, “This system has failed. Look, it has sunk into the ground.” Susan heard this from inside her home through an open window, so she went outside to ask what they were going to do about it. “They said they would report it. When I asked what that meant, they didn’t really give me a straight answer, but said it would be a long time in the process before it was fixed, if ever!”

An engineer from OCRC named Patrick C. came out on March 17, 2012 and investigated the problem and gave Susan a drawing of the area. He said he would send his report to FEMA to try to get the funding to fix the problem. “When I called him to follow up he said that FEMA refused his request to fix the problem,” said Downey.

Susan has also contacted the County Commissioner in her district, Jim Runestad. He expressed concern and made some phone calls on her behalf. He has also visited her home and listened to her concerns. “I believe he tried to help, but was unable to provide a solution,” said Downey. “Maybe I’m going about this wrong, but I just don’t know who to turn to for help. I’ve been to the White Lake Township offices and they directed me to the Oakland County Road Commission.”

Susan and her neighbors just want relief from this problem. They do not know who to turn to or who is responsible for fixing it. Please visit to learn more and post comments and advice.

OCRC Ground Water and Raw Sewage in front of Homes in White Lake!

Oakland County Road Commission will not take responsibility for a problem that has gotten worse for homeowners in a White Lake neighborhood.  The ground water levels have risen to a point of mixing with septic tank drain fields so now there is raw sewage in front of a home on the street behind me.

The Oakland County Health Division reported raw sewage (68,670 ml/100 e-coli) in front of the home at 5060 Lake Grove.  This home is on the street behind my street.  The homeowner’s solution was to attempt to fill the ditch in!  I’m not sure if he should have done that or not, but it will not fix the problem.

Thestanding water in my front yard has caused a terrible mosquito problem!  This is a serious health issue, but even worse is the sewage!  Now my front yard is infested with mosquitoes and my back yard smells like a fart!

The Oakland County Road Commission refuses to fix the water problem.  The system in front of my home has sunk into the ground and filled up with muck.  There was something (I call it a catch basin – not sure what the technical term is).  It’s basically a cylinder with a grate on top that catches water and if it works properly the water should eventually leach into the ground. 

The last time someone from the Oakland County Road Commission was out, the guys stood around it, looking at it, and one of them said, “This system has failed.  Look, it has sunk into the ground.”  I heard this from inside my house with the window open, so I went outside to ask what they were going to do about it. They said they would report it.  When I asked what that meant, they didn’t really give me a straight answer, but said it would be a long time in the process before it was fixed, if ever!

Does this mean we have a potential sink hole in our neighborhood?  What if a kid steps on the steel grate over the thing and falls 30 feet under the ground?  What if our houses get swallowed up by a sinkhole?  Now I don’t know if this is a possibility since I’m not an expert on sink holes, but what if it is? 

I sent an email to update Jim Runestad, the County Commissioner in my district along with a picture of the home with sewage in front of it.  I have contacted him before and I hope he will be able to help now.  When I contacted him in the past, he did respond but was unable to provide a solution. 

Oakland County Road Commission Update

Oakland County Road Commission says this is not their responsibility. So who is responsible for a failing leaching basin?

In the sping of 2009 when the ditch was long and narrow, before standing water caused it to widen in the middle.

The end of July, 2010: Leaching Basin has sunk into the ground, and erosion has formed a widening bowl of water in the center. I'm concerned about the tree in the front yard; it appears to be leaning due to the ground becoming over saturated to the point that it cannot support the tree.

This is the lowest the water level has been in two years.

We got some rain the first week of August, filling the ditch and leaving about 2 - 3 feet of standing water in the center.

More pictures of the standing water after the rain:

August 6, 2010: This is the first time in two years that the drain cover in the center of the ditch has been visible. The hole is still wet and muddy. The leaching basin has sunk into the ground. Eventually, there will not be enough support for the tree. It will fall over into the street.

More pictures taken August 6, 2010:

The weather forecast predicts a dry weekend with a chance of rain and storms every day next week. It only takes one day of heavy rain to fill the ditch up to the top. If we get 5 days in a row of rain, my entire front yard will be flooded and I will end up with a foot of water in my crawl space.

I have had several basement/crawl space contractors evaluate the problem and give me an estimate for waterproofing. When I asked them where the water would be pumped to, they said the ditch out front. So what happens when it is full?

They informed me that they cannot waterproof my crawl space until the problem is resolved. They told me to call the Oakland County Road Commission! A lot of good that had done!

I purchased my hhome in the Summer of 2008 and everything was fine. The problems began in the Fall of 2008. I've made several calls to the Oakland County Road Commision, and we are finally getting answers (but not solutions).

Click Oakland County Road Commission responds to read what they have to say.

Oakland County Road Commission Sleeping on the Job!

The Oakland County Road Commission refuses to repair damaged storm drains in residential neighborhoods. There has been standing water in front yards for 2 years now. This is a health hazard. Mosquitos are terrible. We cannot sit out on our front porch in the evening without being eaten alive!

My neighbor finally got fed up with the Oakland County Road Commission and attempted to unplug the storm drain himself. I saw him reaching into it with a shovel to remove mud and gunk from the drain under his driveway.

Residents shouldn't have to do the Oakland County Road Commission's job!

Does anyone know who to turn to for results?

I spoke with Jim Runestad, the County Commissioner assigned to this area, but he was unable to get the problem resolved. He did make calls and kept me informed; however, the problem still exists.

Is it possible that I could be talking to the wrong people? Who's job is it to maintain strom drains at the street? If the Oakland County Road Commmission is not responsible, they could at least direct me to the right people to get this fixed.

Oakland County Road Commission Snow Plow Damage to Resident's Yard

Oakland County Road Commission still has not done anything about the water in my front yard. The ditch was filled to the top and flooding into my yard after the rain Sunday.

I've just found a post from someone else who is having a problem with the Oakland County Road Commission. A local senior citizen who is disabled just paid for professional landscaping last year, only to have the OCRC snow plow ruin it! They are not bad-mouthing the Oakland County Road Commission; they are just stating facts. All they want is to have them repair the damage.

Read the original complaint at

Oakland County Road Commission Doesn’t Seem to Care about White Lake Storm Drains

Oakland County Road Commission update: Someone from the Oakland County Road Commission came around to take pictures and analyze the area soon after my last press release back in March. When I went out to speak to him, he said they were responding to a request from the County Commissioner to check the problem out.

I’m not sure if he was just there to “tell me what I want to hear,” or if he really cares. He seemed nice enough, but that is a “public relations” expert’s job. He returned a couple days later to give me a drawing, indicating water levels in the area.

At first, it looked like we might get some positive results. His recommendation was going to be to install what he called a “closed ditch system.” He said they would try to get the funding for the project from FEMA.

A couple weeks later, the same man came back to take more pictures and to inform me that FEMA would not fund the project. When I asked what the next step was, he said he was going to recommend that the existing system be repaired.

It appears the Oakland County Road Commission just doesn’t care about inferior storm drains unless they are actually causing a problem with the roads. It’s been over a month and I still haven’t seen anything get done. I understand these things can take time, but I’ve been talking to the Oakland County Road Commission since the Fall of 2008.

Thankfully, it’s been dry lately, but the water is not drying up. The catch basin seems to have sunk deeper into the ground because of the excessive saturation. Next time it rains, the ditch will fill up and the water will flood my front yard again. I wish it would do some serious damage to the street so it could be fixed!

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