Massive Sewer Projects Drain Funds (Part 2)

  • A new sewer line north of Detroit in the Clinton River watershed. The new interceptor-sewer is being built by Jay Dee contractors for the city of Detroit. Photo by Mark Brush.

Cities across the region are feeling more and more pressure to fix their aging sewer systems. Most of the cities in the Midwest have what’s called ‘combined’ sewer systems. That’s where sewage from homes and industries mixes together with water flowing off city streets after a rainstorm. The rush of water is often more than treatment plants can handle, and when that happens, the dirty water overflows into nearby streams or into people’s basements. In the second of a two-part series, the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Mark Brush reports that cities are trying to solve these enormous problems at a time when federal money is hard to find:

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Combined Sewers Under Pressure (Part 1)

  • An overflow point in a combined sewer line. The overflow is designed to relieve pressure on an overburdened sewer system. Photo courtesy of the USEPA.

Over the last century, cities across the nation have built an intricate web of underground sewers. These sewers originally channeled waste directly into nearby streams, but with the advent of the environmental movement, and along with it, the Clean Water Act, treatment plants were built to clean the sewage before it reached the streams. Today, a growing population and a continuing boom in development has placed increasing pressure on our underground network of pipes. In the first of a two-part series, the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Mark Brush reports the aging systems are in need of help:

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States & Provinces Seek Water Use Standards

The states and provinces around the Great Lakes are tightening their grip on where Great Lakes water can go. Their concern over water diversion began after Ontario received proposals from private businesses that wanted to use tankers to export water overseas. Diversions have also been requested to quench the thirst of sprawling inland cities. Now, the governors and premiers are taking steps to limit water withdrawals from the lakes. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham has more: