So That’s Why the Bay is Green
Billions of gallons of raw sewage flow into Great Lakes annually, report says
The Great Lakes, subject of our favorite mnemonic device (HOMES), is being contaminated by homes — and other places where people poo. According to a report released today, 20 cities release billions of gallons of raw sewage into the lakes every year, enough to fill 37,000 Olympic-size pools. The report’s authors say that’s just a taste of the issue; the cities they assessed represent only a third of the region’s 35 million residents, many of whom rely on the lakes for drinking water. “It’s appalling,” says report author Elaine MacDonald, a staff scientist with Sierra Legal Defense Fund. “I think countries as wealthy as Canada and the U.S. can do a hell of a lot better.” In many cases, outdated systems can’t handle both sewage and stormwater, so cities divert sewage when it rains. The worst offenders are Detroit (“quite a quagmire,” says MacDonald), Cleveland, and Windsor, Ontario. Among the best: Ontario’s Peel Region and Green Bay, Wisc. Which, sadly, renders our headline inaccurate.