combined sewer overflows | Michigan Radio
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combined sewer overflows

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Two major water system operators in southeast Michigan and Oakland County plan to work together to better control heavy storm water runoff.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) and the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA), along with Oakland County, plan to spend $68 million on three projects.  They want to prevent tens of millions of gallons of untreated rainwater from flowing into the Rouge River.

Michigan has an infrastructure problem with raw sewage getting into streams and rivers.  

In the State of Michigan’s next fiscal year, there's about $500 million available for fixing up sewer pipes and updating wastewater plants. So far, municipalities have applied for $200 million. That’s below what is typical for this time of year. There’s no doubt about the need for sewer infrastructure repairs or replacement.

A bridge over a murky river has a drain with bars across it.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

From January 2018 through May 2019, 6.7 billion gallons of diluted or partially treated sewage, called combined sewer overflows (CSOs) spilled into Michigan waters.

CSOs are the result of sewer systems that drain both stormwater runoff AND human and industrial waste. Eighty municipalities in Michigan have such systems, known as combined sewer systems.