Detroit River cleanest its been in years, researchers say
Great Lakes Institute of Environment Research expects river to not be 'area of concern' within 3-5 years
People who spend significant time on the Detroit River are noticing a change in its water. It's more clear now than it has been in years.
David Strong is a long-time regular fisherman on the Detroit River and he notices the difference.
"It is much cleaner; 100 percent better than 30 years ago," he said.
The Canada research chair at the Great Lakes Institute of Environment Research says Strong's not just seeing things.
The Detroit River is something researchers and scientists have been working on for decades.
Doug Haffner says several things have changed over the years.
"The industries along the Detroit River have actually disconnected themselves from the river, so the discharges are now going to the waste water treatment plants," Haffner said. "We've seen that the storm water overflows have been corrected; we've done things in terms of correcting toxic chemicals, in terms of the discharge of PCBs and mercury into the system."
Another clean up effort are rocks placed along the river.
Haffner says it serves as a habitat and breeding ground for the once lost sturgeon. The rocks also help prevent erosion along the shoreline.
"To see these species come back into the river is absolute proof as to how this river system is just cleaning up," Haffner said. "That our efforts over the past 20 years, in terms of remediating the water quality in the Detroit River, have been successful."
There was a time when the water wasn't always clear.
"When I was younger, I would come down here and you would pull a lot of debris, things like toilet paper and that sort of thing, out of the river," Strong said. "These days, nothing."
The River is still listed as an area of concern for the Great Lakes Institute of Environment Research but researchers expect it to be taken off the list in 3-5 years.