Re-tooled Detroit Permit Targets Sewage, Algae in Lake Erie
Lake Erie will benefit from reductions in water-polluting and algae-promoting sewage and phosphorus releases because of stricter water protections now required of the nationís largest single wastewater treatment facility.
Michigan regulators have re-issued the discharge permit for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Departmentís treatment plant with several key updates to protect Lake Erie, as well as the Detroit and Rouge rivers, from untreated sewage overflows. The new permit takes effect May 1.
The stronger permit requirements, as well as a timetable for completing the improvements, follow an appeal of a weaker permit by the Alliance and several Great Lakes partner organizations.
The improvements are welcome news to a Great Lake that in 2011 alone saw 3.2 billion gallons of diluted raw sewage, 44.3 billion gallons of partially treated sewage and 1.2 million pounds of phosphorus released to its two main tributaries by the Detroit plant.
DWSD will improve its sewage treatment operations and develop an implementation plan for its green infrastructure program with a goal of preventing 2.8 million gallons of storm water from reaching the combined sewer system by June 30, 2017. Responding to the Allianceís and partnersí concerns about algae growth in Lake Erie, the plant must also maintain lower phosphorus discharges.
Also in response to Alliance recommendations, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has created a web page to provide detailed information on the Detroit sewage plant, and committed to several public meetings with DWSD during the coming year to address community concerns.
Among those joining the Alliance in submitting comments to Michigan DEQ were the Sierra Club, Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, Lake Erie Waterkeeper Inc., Michigan Environmental Council, and Friends of the Detroit River and American Rivers.
The Alliance continues to work with its partners and southwestern Michigan to ensure that the requirements of the new permit are met and community concerns, especially nearby neighborsí odor complaints, are addressed.
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