Skip to main content
Email Subscription

To sign up for email updates from Macomb County or to access your subscriber preferences, please enter your email address. If you would like to subscribe for text alerts please select Text Updates in the drop-down menu.

Public Works Office
Candice S. Miller
21777 Dunham Road, Clinton Township, MI 48036
(586) 469-5325

Contact: Dan Heaton

Phone: 586-469-7424



June 04, 2019

35 Years Later, Pipes Get a Second Look

Miller Directs Inspection as Part of Infrastructure Investment


Macomb County Public Works Office employee Joe Betz enters the 8 1/2 Mile Relief storm water pipe in Eastpointe.


Macomb County Public Works Office employee Joe Betz spray paints the date on the interrior of the 8 1/2 Mile Relief storm water pipe, about 45 feet below Eastpointe. He performed a visual inspection inside the pipe in 1984 and again this week.


Macomb County Public Works Office employees Joe Betz, Trevor Semrow and Zack Heaton are seen inside the 8 1/2 Mile Relief pipe about 45 feet below Eastpointe on June 3, 2019. The three were performing a visual inspection of the pipe, which is about 11 1/2 feet in diameter at that point, about 4.5 miles east of the Lake St. Clair shore.


Thirty-five years – almost to the day – after a Macomb County Public Works Office staffer spray painted his name on the inside of one of the massive underground pipes that carries storm water out of a local neighborhood and out to Lake St. Clair, he did it again.

A team of Macomb County Public Works Office staffers have been spending parts of their recent work days walking underground storm pipes, many of them 10-12 feet in diameter, making visual inspections. They are looking for trouble spots so preventive maintenance can be performed before a little problem becomes a big one.

“Some of these pipes haven’t been inspected in decades,” said Commissioner Candice Miller. “So we are having our guys get into the pipes whenever the schedule allows, so they can make visual inspections. Then we work up a plan, as needed, to ensure the maintenance gets done.”

Which is how Joe Betz, one of the MCPWO’s senior members, found himself spray-painting on the inside of a pipe on Monday, June 3. The pipe is part of the 8 ½ Mile Relief, which runs about 45 feet below Eastpointe and St. Clair Shores. The pipe starts where a couple of other storm water lines come together, about 4.5 miles east of Lake St. Clair.

On April 17, 1984, Betz and another MCPWO staffer spray-painted their names and the date on the pipe, making a record of the last inspection. On Monday, June 3, Betz and two of the MCPWO’s most junior employees, Trevor Semrow and Zack Heaton, added their names to the inside of the pipe.

It is believed that is the first time someone has inspected the pipe since that day in 1984.

The 8 ½ Mile Relief pipe connects at the lake’s edge to the Chapaton Pump Station in St. Clair Shores.

MCPWO is currently designing a major expansion of the Chapaton station, which will allow the retention basin there to hold more storm water and sanitary sewage during a major rain event. In heavy rains, water from the pipe, with some sewage mixed in, is formed to overflow into the lake. Under the new design plan, the existing storage capacity at Chapaton will be expanded. In addition, a series of internal controls will be added to the pipe to allow more water to be held in the pipe, rather than spilled into the lake. The fact that the spray paint in the pipe was still clear after 35 years helps prove the concept that there is excess capacity in the pipe.

“A photo speaks a thousand words,” Miller said. “We need to maintain and invest in our infrastructure and that’s exactly what our department is doing.”


21777 Dunham Road, Clinton Township, MI, 48036