Every year, from 1992 to 2011, these barrels would appear around Lansing as crews tore up entire streets for the Combined Sewer Overflow project.
It's a 30-year initiative that gradually changed the city's one-pipe sewer system, which combined rainwater runoff and sewage, into two separate pipes.
"We were able to remove approximately 950 million gallons of discharge of combined sewage to the rivers every single year," said Chad Gamble, Lansing Chief Operating Officer.
A big boost for the environment that was government mandated, without funding. Add in two other unfunded initiatives for sanitary sewers and storm water and the city was facing a $700 million bill.
"We went back to the DEQ and said, 'look, we cannot do this'," said Gamble. "Over the past couple of years, we've been working with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to do something that really no other municipality has done in the state of Michigan."
The 'Wet Weather Project' combines the CSO, Sanitary Sewer Overflow and storm sewer initiatives into one. The idea is to meet the federal government's standards for all three, while saving tax dollars.
"Those projects that greatly reduce basement backups in the homes and businesses in and around the city," said Gamble. "Those are the projects we are prioritizing here."
Chad Gamble says if the project is approved, it would reduce total costs from $700 million to $400 million, but City Council President Carol Wood says there are issues to be worked out.
"Making sure that we have the money to pay for those and that the state gives us the time that we need," said Wood. "Without having those additional dollars, this falls back on the taxpayers."
For more information on the CSO project, visit http://www.lansingmi.gov/pubserv/cso/the_cso_story.jsp