Optical Technology to Efficiently Detect Sewage Contamination for Rapid Remediation

2015 - 2020
Team Leader
Steven Corsi
U.S. Geological Survey

This project will improve the water quality of the Great Lakes and its tributaries with the development of hand-held, real-time, optical sensors that will locate and accelerate repair of sources of human sewage contamination in streams and storm sewers. The team will do this by developing a new methodology for identifying the best optical signals to predict sewage contamination in water.

Optical properties of water are largely determined by organic matter. Human sewage, as a form of dissolved organic matter, has distinctive characteristics. Through extensive field sampling and laboratory analysis, the team will determine those optical signals that consistently indicate human sewage and will work closely with partner sensor manufactures to expand the capabilities of existing sensors.

The team will pilot the technology in Milwaukee, Macomb County (MI) and Monroe County (NY).

Project Categories

  • Natural Resource Stewardship

Project Files

  • Download Project Profile (PDF)