Lake St. Clair’s chronic problems have not only gone unresolved over the decades; there isn’t even consensus on what’s causing them
Nearly a trillion gallons of partially treated storm sewer overflow — stormwater runoff mixed with sewage — have flowed into Lake St. Clair from Macomb, St. Clair and Oakland counties since 2000, according to a Free Press analysis of state data.
It’s the ugly side to what’s probably the most vital lake in Michigan, other than the Great Lakes. Lake St. Clair serves as a recreational haven, an international shipping channel and source of drinking water for much of southeastern Michigan.
The lake’s best beaches are closed for weeks or even months every summer because of high levels of Escherichia coli, commonly called E. coli, an intestinal bacteria associated with human and animal feces contamination that can make people extremely ill. Smelly muck, largely composed of spreading algae fueled by all of the nutrients flowing into the lake, chokes areas of the shoreline every year.
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