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  • Writer's pictureYouth Energy Squad

Where does our Wastewater go?


What is wastewater? Simply put, it is used water created by human activities! Humans use water for a number of reasons. We drink it, cook with it, clean ourselves in it, and wash our dishes, clothes, and other items in it! But where does wastewater go when we’re done with it?


Wastewater - used water created by human activities, could also be called sewer water.

Stormwater - is water that originates from rain, including snow and ice melt.


Goals: Age Group: 6-12th grade

  • Understand wastewater and Combined Sewer

Systems and a Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO)

  • Learn about the environmental impacts of a CSO

Supplies: Time: 30 minutes

  • Writing utensils

  • Notebook or lose paper



First, watch this video about wastewater from our neighbors, the City of Windsor in Ontario, Canada:

Next, watch this short video about Combined Sewer Systems.

Now, answer these reflection questions below.


Reflection Questions

  • Why is it important to take care of water, like the Detroit River?

  • What happens to water when you flush the toilet, take a shower, wash your hands, or do laundry? Where does it go?

  • What about the water that you use outside, like to wash your car or water your garden? Where does it go?

  • What things should we not put down our sinks, toilets, or storm drains? Why not? Make a list!

  • What happens when it rains in your community? Where does it go?

  • Are there puddles of water on your street or near storm drains?

  • Does your basement flood? Do you have friends and family members whose basements’ flood?

  • When our combined sewer system in Detroit can’t handle all of the stormwater and wastewater, where does it go?

  • Can it flood basements?

  • Can it cause standing water in the streets or near storm drains?

  • Can the wastewater (which can contain human feces, soap, chemicals, fertilizers, and more) overflow into the Detroit River? Why is this bad?

  • What are the ways that we can help reduce contamination in our wastewater and reduce wastewater overflow into the Detroit River? One example is to avoid doing laundry or showering when it’s raining outside (if possible). Another example is avoiding flushing baby wipes or hygiene products down the toilet. What are the other examples?

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