Thanks to DBusiness for this:

Did you know that the Great Lakes support over 1 million jobs and generate over $80 billion in wages annually?

Here are the findings of a recent Great Lakes study:,9349,7-385-93394-545850–,00.html

Great Lakes Water Authority

The Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) is a regional water and sewer authority that services nearly 40 percent of the water customers in Michigan.

Currently GLWA provides wholesale water and waste water services to 126 municipalities in seven Southeastern Michigan counties, which is equivalent to approximately 3.9 million customers.

Recently, the GLWA board of directors has adopted a regional Wastewater Master Plan to manage the wastewater system that spans 15,000 miles of pipes across 79 communities in southeast Michigan.

The 40-year plan is the result of collaboration among 100 stakeholders including the authority’s member partners, watershed advocacy groups, regulatory agencies, and others. The plan focuses on water quality and managing affordability through partnerships and collaboration.

“The Wastewater Master Plan is a true demonstration of the spirit of regional collaboration on which GLWA was established,” says Sue F. McCormick, CEO of the authority. “Pipes don’t know where one community ends, and another begins. This new plan is specifically designed to optimize the wastewater system based on need at the lowest cost for the region, as opposed to an individual system approach.

“It offers us tremendous opportunity to leverage the infrastructure the region has invested in to date and identify future investments and improvements that will continue to advance water quality in the region for decades to come.”

The plan takes into consideration public health and safety; preserving natural resources and the environment; maintaining reliable, high-quality service; and assuring the value of investment and contributing to economic prosperity.

In southeast Michigan, wastewater, which includes sanitary and some stormwater, flows throughout 86 separate municipal systems connected to the authority.

It is treated at the authority’s Water Resource Recovery Facility (9401 W. Jefferson Ave, Detroit, MI) which is the largest single-site wastewater treatment facility in North America.

Implementation of the plan will occur in 3 phases:

optimizing, adapting and expanding, and sustaining.

Great Lakes Water Authority

Key phase one initiatives, many of which are underway, work to stretch the region’s money by prioritizing investment in lower cost, high-impact projects with the greatest environmental benefit to the system.

They include:

  • Launch of a regional operating plan, in which operators from the authority and its member communities use real-time computer technology to see areas where, during intense rainfall and snow melts, there is too much flow in the system and move it to areas with more capacity, reducing the risk of overflows and backups across the region without expensive new infrastructure;
  • Expansion of connectors to the Detroit River Interceptor, a large, deep sewer that collects or intercepts flow from smaller, shallower sewers. This would cost $15 million and redirect 160 million gallons of wastewater to the Water Resource Recovery Facility, preventing it from being discharged untreated into the Detroit River
  • Formation of a Regional Watershed Hub Workgroup that is bringing the region’s watershed advocacy organizations together with the authority and its member partners to develop a Regional Water Quality Monitoring Program. The program will collect real-time data on water quality in the Rouge, Clinton, and Detroit rivers and Lake St. Clair. The data will be used to determine where system maintenance and upgrades are needed to improve water quality and allow for healthy recreation in rivers and lakes; and
  • Partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department on projects to either remove freeway drainage from the combined sewer system or treat the flow before it is directed to the Detroit River. The most noteworthy collaborations are with the I-94 and I-375 improvement projects, and on the proposed Gordie Howe International Bridge.

“By working together as outlined in the WWMP, we will maintain reliable, high quality service while protecting our natural resources for residents and visitors to the region to enjoy,” says Suzanne Coffey, chief planning officer, for the authority. “Everyone – our member partners and community leaders, no matter how large or small their community is – has a role they can play and a shared responsibility to support and help with the execution. We view this as a truly collaborative and proactive effort to look, find, and fix issues before they become problems.”

The results will be assessed in 5-year intervals, with the plan updated and adapted based on progress achieved.

The authority is the provider of drinking water services to nearly 40 percent of Michigan’s population and wastewater services to nearly 30 percent. It has the capacity to extend its services beyond its 88-member partner communities.

Great Lakes Water Authority

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