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Interactive map: Michigan waters affected by combined sewer overflows

A bridge over a murky river has a drain with bars across it.
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
An outlet pipe on the Grand River in Lansing.

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.

Most times, combined sewer systems send it all to the local wastewater treatment plant. But during heavy rain events, they can be overwhelmed, and a mix of stormwater and raw or partially treated sewage spills into waterways. 

This map shows water bodies affected by CSOs in the last year and a half – including the Black, Detroit, Grand, Manistique, Red Cedar, Rouge, St. Joseph, and Traprock rivers

The clickable bubbles also give information on the municipalities the CSOs came from, and what downstream water bodies are affected.

The data for this map came from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.

Kaye is an alumnus of Michigan Tech's environmental engineering program. She got her start making maps for the Traverse City-Based water news organization Circle of Blue, and, since then, she's been pretty devoted to science communication and data visualization.
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