Challenge: Real time reporting of sewage overflow and untreated sewage spills


Across North America, during wet weather events, our cities too frequently release large volumes of untreated sewage into nearby rivers, lakes and oceans through combined sewer overflows. Sewage spills contain bacteria, viruses and pathogens that can be harmful to the environment and human health (swimmers and other recreational water users). Some cities are already reporting their sewage spills, but unfortunately, most of the cities do not notify the public when sewage spills happen. Waterkeepers from Canada and the USA have been advocating for cities to inform the public when and where a sewage overflow is occurring in real-time so people can make informed decisions about how to connect with their river and lake. Real-time reporting will help people avoid areas impacted by sewer overflows and avoid unnecessary exposure to sewage pollution.

Ideas for solution:

  • System to notify the public when and where a sewage overflow is occurring in real time (when does it start, when does it ends, when is it safe to interact again with the water in this area)

WANT TO KNOW MORE?  Watch the webinar HERE

Cso Diagram Us Epa

Challenge Leaders

Organisations that are partnering to submit and design the challenge statement.

They will provide experts and data to help the teams develop their solutions.

The Ottawa Riverkeeper is leading the challenge with the help of the Cities Initiatives.

The Ottawa Riverkeeper is a grassroots charity organisation that brings together volunteers, communities, businesses and all levels of government to find solutions to the problems that threaten the health of the Ottawa River.

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative is a binational coalition of 131 U.S. and Canadian mayors and local officials working to advance the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.  The Cities Initiative and local officials integrate environmental, economic and social agendas and sustain a resource that is the foundation upon which a strong regional economy is based.

     City of Ottawa - 

     Milwaukee Riverkeeper -

     Lake Ontario Waterkeeper -


List of experts available to help the teams understand the challenge and develop their solutions

Meredith Brown

Riverkeeper, Ottawa Riverkeeper

Scott McKay

Cities Initative

Louis Julien

Senior Engineer Water Resources. City of Ottawa

Cheryl Nenn

Riverkeeper, Milwaukee Riverkeeper

Krystyn Tully

Waterkeeper, Lake Ontario WAterkeeper