Advocating Water Quality Improvement in Detroit

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This workshop addresses how citizen advocacy is resulting in cleaner water in the Great Lakes by reducing combined sewer overflows and reducing pollution from Detroit’s sewage treatment plant. Participants will help develop stories and effective strategies to encourage support from the city, sewer agency, regulators, and political leaders. This presentation was given by Lyman Welch, Water Quality Program Director, Alliance for the Great Lakes.

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Advocating Water Quality Improvement in Detroit

  1. 1. Advoca=ng  Water  Quality   Improvement  in  Detroit—   Great  Lakes  impact   September  11,  2013   Lyman  Welch   Water  Quality  Program  Director   lwelch@greatlakes.org  
  2. 2. Combined  Sewer  Overflow   •  Sewage  and  storm  runoff  flow   together  in  a  single  pipe  to  the     treatment  plant     •  Increased  volume  from  heavy  rains   causes  overflows,  CSOs   •  Raw  sewage,  trash,  toxic  industrial   waste  and  other  pollutants  are   discharged  to  the  Great  Lakes  and  its   tributaries  without  treatment.     •  Built  at  the  end  of  19th  century,  and   common  around  the  Great  Lakes  
  3. 3. Detroit  Water  and  Sewer  Department  Treatment  Facility   Detroit,  Michigan  
  4. 4. NPDES  Permit  Reissuance   Detroit  Water  and  Sewage  Department  (DWSD)       Detroit,  Michigan         2011  Lake  Erie  Contaminants  :     •  3.2  billion  gallons  of  diluted  raw  sewage     •  4.3  billion  gallons  of  par=ally  treated   sewage     •  1.2  million  pounds  of  phosphorus        
  5. 5. Alliance  Policy  Efforts   §  Working  closely  with  USEPA  and  DEQ  agency  staff     §  Recommending  science-­‐based  permit  revisions  consistent  with   na=onal  policy  and  local  condi=ons  in  Detroit        
  6. 6. Detroit’s  Financial  Situa=on   •  City  filed  for  Chapter  9  Bankruptcy  on  July  18,  2013   •  City  had  been  dealing  with  a  worsening  financial  condi=on  for  years   •  Permit  reduced  CSO  infrastructure  requirements  in  2013-­‐2019   period.   •  Comple=on  of  “core”  program  in  2019  will  treat  and  disinfect  95%   average  annual  wet  weather  flow.  
  7. 7. Working  with  Partner  Organiza=ons           •  2011:  Michigan  regulators  revised  the  DWSD  facility’s  permit   without  extensive  public  comment  or  discussion   •  The  Alliance  for  the  Great  Lakes,  Sierra  Club,  Great  Lakes   Environmental  Law  Center,  Lake  Erie  WaterKeeper,  Michigan   Environmental  Council,  and  Friends  of  the  Detroit  River  sent  an   appeal  lefer  sent  to  the  Michigan  Department  of  Natural  Resources   and  Environment  encouraging  MDEQ  to  revisit  the  DWSD  permit      
  8. 8. The  Alliance  and  Partner  Groups'  Recommenda=ons:     •  Mechanism  for  increased  and  meaningful   public  par=cipa=on  during  permit  process   •  Strengthen  green  infrastructure  programs   in  the  Detroit  River/Lake  Erie  area   •  Reduc=on  of  phosphorus  discharges  that   contribute  to  algae  blooms  in  Lake  Erie    
  9. 9. NPDES  Permit  Modifica=on  Success  Story   Detroit  Water  and  Sewage  Department       Detroit,  Michigan         The Revised Permit: •  DWSD will improve its sewage treatment operations and develop an implementation plan for its green infrastructure program. •  Reduction of 2.8 million gallons of storm water from reaching the combined sewer system by June 30, 2017. •  The plant must also maintain lower phosphorus discharges to prevent algae growth in Lake Erie.      
  10. 10. NPDES  Permit  Modifica=on  Success  Story   Detroit  Water  and  Sewage  Department       Detroit,  Michigan         Continuing Action: •  Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has created a web page to provide detailed information on the DWSD plant •  Commitment to public meetings with DWSD during the coming year to address community concerns    
  11. 11. Many  Thanks  for  Suppor=ng  this  Work!  

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