Great Lakes Water Authority sheds extra state, federal oversight for first time in 45 years

The Detroit News

State officials have terminated a longstanding administrative consent order for the Great Lakes Water Authority, the department announced Friday.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy ended the order imposed more than a decade ago amid frequent violations involving the processing and disposal of solid waste, representatives said in a statement.

The authority said it has had no solids processing or disposal violations since 2014.

The state consent order's end also marks the first time in 45 years that the Great Lakes Water Authority and its predecessor, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, have been without a federal consent decree or state administrative consent order requiring more oversight of its wastewater treatment facilities, according to the release.

The consent order's end also marks the first time in 45 years that the authority and its predecessor, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, have been without a federal consent decree or state administrative consent order requiring more oversight of its wastewater treatment facilities, according to the release.

“The termination of this ACO is a significant milestone for GLWA, DWSD, and the city of Detroit. We should all be extremely proud of the progress we have made as stewards of the system and what we have accomplished,” said Suzanne Coffey, the authority's interim CEO.

“This really is validation of the exceptional work done by team members over the last decade to greatly improve NPDES permit compliance and water quality and illustrates the State’s confidence in GLWA.” 

The authority said multiple steps led to improving its solids processing and having the consent order lifted. Those included eliminating solids recycling; infrastructure and equipment upgrades at the Water Resource Recovery Facility, which has earned multiple awards from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies; and launching the Rouge River Outfall Disinfection Facility.

GLWA provides drinking water services to nearly 40% of Michigan’s population and wastewater services to about 30% of the state's population.