4-year study finds excessive pollutants in 3 Michigan rivers

DETROIT (AP) — Scientists have found a significant presence of organic waste compounds in three Michigan rivers during a four-year study of waterways in the Great Lakes basin.

The Rouge and Clinton rivers in heavily urban southeastern Michigan and the St. Joseph River in southwestern Michigan have pollutants from car exhaust, smokestacks, herbicides and detergents, the Detroit Free Press reported Sunday (http://on.freep.com/2aJ0mGW ), citing the results of a study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Scientists sampled water throughout the Great Lakes region from 2010 through 2013 and found some organic waste compounds were 10 times higher than water-quality standards, the Free Press reported.

The report found water-quality benchmarks were exceeded in 35 percent of hundreds of samples taken from 57 tributaries in the Great Lakes basin.

“The Rouge and the Clinton were among the worst sites overall, almost across the board, for what we were looking at,” said Austin Baldwin, a hydrologist who led the study.

He said the compounds can cause hormonal changes in fish and other aquatic life.

The study found high concentrations of hydrocarbons formed during incomplete burning of coal, oil, gas, wood and other organic substances. Baldwin said they settle on streets and sidewalks and wash into streams during rains.

Karen Hanna of the nonprofit group Friends of the Rouge said she’s not surprised.

“When you replace ground with impervious surfaces like driveways and rooftops, there’s no place for storm water to go,” she said. “It goes into the wastewater treatment plant or it goes into the river.”


Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com

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