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Partnership aims to protect the Great Lakes by changing how cities handle rain water

aerial photo of the Great Lakes
National Oceanic and And Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

The Great Lakes Commission and Lawrence Technological University are teaming up to protect the Great Lakes by changing the way cities think about rain water.

They want to explore new ways communities can handle storm water to prevent things like flooding and sewage overflow into the lakes.

Michael Polich is a program specialist with the Great Lakes Commission. He says cities often view alternate storm water technologies as different and untested, making them hesitant to implement new ideas.

"We believe that handling storm water more effectively is critical for the Great Lakes," he said.

Polich said treatment plants in communities that utilize combined sewer systems can become overloaded during heavier rain.

"The treatment plant has the only option to then divert that water into the Great Lakes, or into the streams that lead to the Great Lakes," he said.

The partnership will look at alternate methods for handling storm water including rain gardens, barrels, and storm scepters - which swirl water around in a pipe, releasing sediment and nutrients - and encourage cities to implement them.

Polich says the collaboration is still in its early stages.

Paulette is a digital media reporter and producer for Michigan Radio. She started as a newsroom intern at the station in 2014 and has taken on various roles in that time, including filling in as an on-air host.
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