Metro Detroit Sewage Polluting Waterways

DETROIT, Jan. 19 (UPI) — Sewage from Metro Detroit’s aging waste-treatment systems are causing record levels of bacteria in waterways used for drinking and recreation, records show.

Treatment plants in more than three dozen communities dumped a total of 80 billion gallons of raw and partially treated human sewage in waterways in and around Detroit during the last two years, the Detroit Free Press reported after analyzing state records.

Bacteria from the waste forced bans on fishing, swimming and kayaking on Lake St. Clair and the Clinton and Rouge rivers.

“We still treat the Great Lakes and their tributaries as open sewers,” Hugh McDiarmid Jr., of the Michigan Environmental Council, told the Free Press in a story published Tuesday.

Communities lack the hundreds of millions of dollars it would take overall to update their sewage systems, said Chuck Hersey, spokesman for the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments.

“It is very hard to take out a loan when you are struggling to pay for police and firefighters,” Hersey said of the cash-strapped communities.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

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