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CSO Discharges to the Great Lakes

  • In Michigan in 2004, 27 billion gallons of a sewage-storm water mix was dumped into the Great Lakes.
  • 2005 Michigan communities reported 338 sanitary sewer overflows 147 million gallons of raw sewage into the Great Lakes.

In the News…
Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs

March 26, 2007
WQ&HC's Rose Presents Great Lakes Water Quality Research

WQ&HC member and Homer Nowlin Chair of Water Research at Michigan State University Joan Rose, PhD discussed her recent water quality research at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's (AAAS) annual meeting. In her presentation "Drinking Water and Health: Forecasting Pathogen Risks in the Great Lakes," Dr. Rose discussed the increasing difficulty of separating drinking water and sewage, leading to a variety of illnesses and public health threats from contact with pathogens including Campylobacter, Giardia, Salmonella and noroviruses.

Dr. Rose's Great Lakes Basin project is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) effort to develop a means of forecasting water quality problems for lakes, rivers and streams. The ability to identify drinking water contamination scenarios in the early stages will help prevent health threats and possible disease outbreaks before they occur.

According to Dr. Rose, the safety of drinking water systems is challenged by aging water treatment infrastructure that can be overwhelmed by unpredictable weather conditions and heavy rainfall. Without appropriate barriers in place, the resulting flooding and overflow produces a dangerous mixing of sewage with source water for drinking water systems. The result of this can lead to potential human consumption of sewage-contaminated water and possible waterborne illness episodes.

Findings of the NOAA study suggest that more emphasis needs to be paid to watershed protection for the Great Lakes region water resources system, in place of the current focus on water treatment that can be overwhelmed by catastrophic weather events and the presence of treatment-resistant contaminants.

To view a PowerPoint presentation by Dr. Rose on the Great Lakes Basin project, please go to:
Water Quality and Health: The Great Lakes Basin

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