Rain, Rain, Rain

We’ve had a cruel month of rains here in Grand Rapids, with flooding over the 100-year-flood mark. (The photo is of downtown Grand Rapids.)

A side effect:

The rain has overwhelmed the sewer systems in most Great Lakes cities. Milwaukee dumped 570,000,000 gallons of raw sewage into Lake Michigan in 3 days. Grand Rapids has dumped less–somewhere between 200,000,000 and 300,000,000 gallons total for the month–mostly because the city has started separating the storm drains from the sanitary sewage (unfortunately the separation project has halted because of budget cuts). Chicago took the extreme step of reversing the flow of the Chicago River so that its sewage went into Lake Michigan rather than down to the Mississippi. We have a “do-not-touch” advisory for Grand River waters.
In boating terms, Milwaukee and Grand Rapids have dumped the equivalent of 29,000,000 30-gallon holding tanks into the Lake without treatment so far this month. On the positive side, it takes 2.5 inches of rain to cause the overflow of sewage, so this may not happen again for a while.

Happy swimming.