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 In many cases, outdated systems can’t handle both sewage and stormwater, so cities divert sewage when it rains.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.