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.

Office of County Executive
Mark A. Hackel

Work Begins on Stephens Relief Drain in St. Clair Shores, Eastpointe

Inspection of a second major storm drain in southern Macomb County began today (Oct. 25) under the direction of the Macomb County Public Works Office.

Inspectors entered the Stephens Relief Drain in Eastpointe and St. Clair Shores this morning to begin the review of that 11-foot diameter pipe system which drains rain and snow run-off from those two communities in to Lake St. Clair. A similar inspection of the 11 ½ Mile Relief Drain, which serves St. Clair Shores and Roseville, was concluded earlier this month.

“These inspections are a critical part of our preventative maintenance plan across the county,” said Public Works Commissioner Candice S. Miller. “These storm drains were installed in 1960 and have never been inspected. We want to make sure no. 1, that there is no illicit sources of pollution entering the drains and ultimately ending up in the lake. No. 2, we will look for any areas of concern in the physical integrity of the pipe itself.”

The inspection of the Stephens Drain will take about a month or more, depending on weather conditions. Rainfall delays the work that can be done in the pipe.

To conduct the inspection, a temporary bulkhead is placed in the pipe at the lake and the water in the pipe is pumped out. Inspectors then enter the pipe, making visual and videotape inspection of the pipe. Last week, the inspection crew blocked off the pipe at the lake, near Blossom Heath Park in St. Clair Shores. This morning, inspectors entered the pipe near Spindler Park in Eastpointe to begin the physical inspection.

The county is using $1.4 million in state grants and $200,000 in local funds to inspect the 11 ½ Mile Relief, the Stephens Relief and the Hetchler Relief drains. The Hetchler is in the area of Masonic Road and serves St. Clair Shores and Roseville.

The final report from the 11 ½ Mile inspection is still being completed, but Miller said no emergencies were found.

“We are looking to find and eliminate any and all sources of pollution that may be entering our magnificent Lake St. Clair. As we inspect and eliminate these drains as possible sources of pollution, we will address other potential targets,” she said.

Preliminary work on the Stephens Relief Drain, conducted in February, discovered an illicit connection along 10 Mile Road in Eastpointe, where a 10-unit apartment complex had its sanitary sewer drain connected to the storm pipe. That connection – since fixed by the City of Eastpointe’s Public Works Department – allowed some 250,000 gallons of sewage a year to enter into Lake St. Clair.

“Our three city partners on this project, St. Clair Shores, Eastpointe and Roseville, are all equally committed to finding and eliminating any illicit connections. They have been great champions for this work,” Miller said.

A final report on the three drains, to include a plan for preventative maintenance in the future, is expected to be finalized early next year.


Debris is seen at the bottom of the Stephens Relief Drain where the drain enters Lake St. Clair near Blossom Heath Park in St. Clair Shores. The debris will be cleaned out to prevent it from entering the lake. 


An inspector enters the Stephens Relief Drain near Spindler Park (I-94 and Stephens Road) in Eastpointe.


A bulkhead is placed in the Stephens Relief Drain at Lake St. Clair to allow the drain to be pumped out and inspected.


Raindrops ripple the water in the exposed Stephens Relief Drain near Lake St. Clair. Normally the drain is covered.