Untreated sewage threatens the Great Lakes

May 17, 2005 at 4:43 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 17 (UPI) -- Combined sewer systems in cities and towns bordering the Great Lakes discharge billions of gallons of raw human waste and untreated sewage, a report said.

Such sewer systems carry both storm water and raw sewage to wastewater treatment plants. During heavy rains, a contaminated runoff of storm water and sewage discharges directly into the Great Lakes, rivers and streams.

The non-profit Environmental Integrity Project said more than 60 percent of municipalities in the Great Lakes region -- Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin -- are not meeting basic maintenance or reporting requirements under the federal Clear Water Act.

The project said combined sewer systems "are a major threat to water quality in the Great Lakes states -- which are home to 43 percent of the nation's 828 CSO (combined sewer overflow) communities -- making water unsafe for swimming, boating or fishing."

The group was joined by Friends of the Chicago River, Michigan Clean Water Action, Friends of Milwaukee's Rivers, the Great Lakes Public Interest Group and the Ohio Public Interest Research Group, to release the report, "Backed Up: Cleaning Up Combined Sewer Systems in the Great Lakes."

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