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Combined-sewer overflow data and methods of sample collection for selected sites, Detroit, Michigan

January 1, 1997

The discharge of untreated sewage is illegal in Michigan unless permitted under Act 245 due to public health concerns. In October, 1992, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR, now the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality) issued a discharge permit to Detroit authorizing discharge from the City's 78 combined-sewer overflows (CSOs), and requiring that a long-term control plan be developed to achieve mandated waterquality standards in receiving waters. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) issued a national CSO policy in April, 1994, which requires (1) operational improvements of existing systems to minimize discharges and prevent their occurrence in dry weather; (2) publicly operated treatment works (POTW) to characterize the frequency and volume of discharges; and (3) construction of CSO discharge control projects where necessary.

In 1993, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) requested assistance from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) and MDNR, Surface Water Quality Division, to address part of the technical data requirements for requirement 2. The USGS scope of services for this interdisciplinary, multiagency investigation consisted of collection, compilation, and interpretation of the necessary hydrologic data, and documentation of results. In addition to USGS personnel, personnel from DWSD assisted with the field collection of samples and in alerting USGS personnel to CSO effluent discharges.

From October 1, 1994 through December 31, 1995, four CSOs discharging to the Detroit River in Detroit, Michigan (figure 1) were monitored to characterize storm-related water quantity and quality. Water velocity, stage, and precipitation were measured continuously and recorded at 5-minute intervals. Water-quality samples were collected at discrete times during storms and analyzed for inorganic and organic pollutants. Discharges were sampled between 30 and 78 times for inorganic pollutants, and between 14 and 22 times for organic pollutants, depending on the site. These samples represented between 8 and 17 storms during which one or more of the four selected CSOs discharged. The monitored pollutants included fecal coliform, fecal streptococci, and Escherichia coli; antimony, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, total chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, manganese, mercury, nickel, silver, thallium and zinc; and polychlorinated biphenyl congeners, volatile organic compounds, and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons. Metal and non-metal inorganic pollutants were detected at all sites. Many organic pollutants were not detected at all.

Publication Year 1997
Title Combined-sewer overflow data and methods of sample collection for selected sites, Detroit, Michigan
DOI 10.3133/ofr96646
Authors M.J. Sweat, J.R. Wolf
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 96-646
Index ID ofr96646
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Michigan Water Science Center