University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee researchers say human fecal bacteria was detected in water samples collected from the surface of the harbor both in dry weather and on rainy days, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Thursday.
Viruses and other pathogens found in fecal waste are "a public health risk" for people using the harbor for recreation, UWM researcher Sandra McLellan said.
Scientists said they tested 27 water samples from the harbor's main channel and detected genetic markers of human Bacteroides bacteria that make up a large part of feces.
The human sewage is probably coming from leaking private sewer laterals and illegal cross-connections of laterals to storm sewers, researchers said.
"Storm sewers are like a four-lane highway going to the rivers," McLellan said.