Billions Of Gallons Of Sewage, Polluted Stormwater Swamping Great Lakes Each Year

From Molly Flanagan, Alliance for the Great Lakes, a U.S.-based advocacy group for the binational waterbodies

Posted September 20th, 2016 on Niagara At Large

Every year tens of billions of gallons of sewage and stormwater are released to the Great Lakes. The result: closed beaches, polluted drinking water, and illness.

But too often communities don’t know about this pollution problem until long after it happens. Tell US EPA to require public notification ASAP when a sewage overflow occurs.great-lakes

About 22 billion gallons of this sewage-tainted water ended up in the lakes in nearly 1,500 overflows in 2014. Once in the water, bacteria and viruses from the waste can make people sick. That’s why it’s important the public is notified right away of a sewage overflow so people know to stay out of the water.

Congress ordered the (U.S.) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to work with Great Lakes states to create a plan for improving notification when a sewage overflow occurs. Contact EPA today to have your say in how you hear about sewage overflows in your community, and how fast.

Tell the EPA that:

  • Treatment plants should notify the public and public health agencies as soon as possible, but within two hours of a CSO release.
  • The public should be notified via three avenues: traditional mass media (television, radio and newspaper), the Internet (email, web app and social media) and at the site of the overflow.
  • Notices should include information that best protects the public from danger, and allows the public to verify the facility is working to lessen the discharge.

Molly Flanagan, Vice President, Policy

About the Alliance for the Great LakesThe Alliance is the oldest Great Lakes organization devoted 100 percent to the lakes. Our professional staff works with scientists, policymakers, businesses, community groups and everyday citizens to protect and restore the world’s largest surface freshwater resource.

From forging forward-looking Great Lakes policies to promoting Great Lakes education to on-the-ground efforts to improve thousands of miles of Great Lakes shoreline, we’ve been out front and behind the scenes caring for the lakes since 1970.

Learn more about our programs, the problems we address and how you can get involved.

For more on the Alliance for the Great Lakes and its citizens advocacy work click on

A BRIEF NOTE from Niagara At Large publisher and environment writer Doug Draper – On the Ontario side of the Great Lakes, public health officers for Niagara’s regional government and other municipalities bordering the lakes have have had a fairly long history now of testing nearshore waters and reporting if sewage-related pollution counts make bathing in the waters unsafe.

That said, jursidictions in both countries still have a good deal of work to do to keep pollution from human activities from entering the waters in the first place. In recent years, sewage effluent from large-scale factory farms has been a particular problem, as has a growth in urban development along some areas along lake shores.

Niagara At Large now encourages you to join the discussion by sharing your views on this post in the space following the Bernie quote below. A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who share their first and last name with them.

 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders




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