Monthly samples were collected at 100 locations along the river to establish parameters for water quality management. After a few years, the Network concluded that just monthly sampling of a few pollutants did not give them adequate information. A study was then initiated to establish a Water Quality Index (WQI) that would lead to a common understanding of water quality and be able to compare different bodies of water using this uniform method.
Since 1988, water samples have been collected at various spots along the river, measuring multiple variables, including pH, dissolved oxygen, and E. coli. These measurements are then put into a weighted equation, which gives a number between 1-100. The City’s Environmental Services Department has an online map showing the locations of the sampling points and the WQI. A marked improvement to the Grand River’s water quality was the investment of over 30 years and $300 million dollars to separate the sanitary and storm sewer systems. The graph below shows the combined sewer overflows before and after the wastewater plant expansion and the separation of the systems.
In addition, other communities upstream and downstream of Grand Rapids have also invested many millions, if not billions, of dollars to build or rebuild their sanitary sewer infrastructure to comply with state and federal mandates to improve water quality.
Water quality monitoring is currently being conducted by many groups and organizations. To collect and share this data, the Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds (LGROW) has created a Data Repository. Groups are encouraged to submit their data on the site, which will then be reviewed for quality assurance, and added to the site. Both citizen science and professional data can be added, with both biological and chemical results displayed.
Visit the LGROW website.