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Waterborne disease risk on the rise in Great Lakes region in US

A study has determined that an anticipated increased incidence of climate-related extreme rainfall events in the Great Lakes region in the US may raise the public health risk for the 40 million people who depend on the lakes for their drinking water. A trend toward extreme weather such as the monsoon-like rainfall events that occurred in many parts of the region this past spring is likely to aggravate the risk for outbreaks of waterborne disease in the Great Lakes region. “If weather extremes do intensify, as these findings suggest, our health will be at greater risk.” A primary threat to human health are the extreme precipitation events that overwhelm the combined urban storm water and sewage systems such as those in Milwaukee and Chicago, resulting in millions of gallons of raw sewage being diverted to Lake Michigan. Adding to the risk throughout the region is the growing concentration of livestock operations where heavy rainfall can wash large amounts of animal waste into the rivers and streams that drain into the Great Lakes.

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