A floodwall protects the Grand Rapids Wastewater Treatment Plant from the rising Grand River. (April 18, 2013)
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- The City of Grand Rapids is trying to prevent a huge flooding side effect. Now, it is in need of additional volunteers to help sandbag.
If the Grand River rises just a few more feet, the main sewage plant on Market Street will flood, meaning sewage will spill into the river.
Everyone in the Grand Rapids Environmental Department is working overtime to fill 5,000 sandbags. The plan is to stack them up around the edges of the Grand Rapids Wastewater Treatment Plant Friday morning, adding as much of a barrier from the rising water as possible.
There is a need for at least 30 volunteers for Friday, April 19 and 30 stand-by volunteers for Saturday, April 20. Volunteers are being asked to show up at 8 a.m. Friday morning at the City's Environmental Service Department facility located at 660 Market Avenue SW.
If you're interested, click HERE. That sandbags should add at least an extra foot of protection, which Environmental Services Manager Mike Lunn hopes will be just enough to avoid what he says, could be disastrous.
"Depends on how much equipment we lose, and how long it takes us to get everything back online. We (would) have to put some sewage in the Grand River. We'll hopefully be able to treat some down at our market retention basin," said Lunn.
To add to the problem, this sewage plant is in a very vulnerable location because it is in an area where the land dips down into a bowl, where water could easily rush. It would be the first time for the plant to flood, and it's tough to tell how much damage that would do to the river.
"It's going to take a few days to get things into place. It's going to take a few more days for the river to crest. If you don't take action now, you wait until it happens, and it's too late," said Lunn.
The city will give another update on the status of this situation at a news conference Friday afternoon. Stay with WZZM 13 for the latest updates on this developing story.