CANCELED - Water@Wayne Seminar: "The Great Lakes Water Quality Centennial Study: What's Changed in 100 Years?"

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Date: March 26, 2020
Time: 2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Location: Undergraduate Library, David Adamany Bernath Auditorium | Map
5155 Gullen Mall
Detroit, MI 48202
Category: Seminar

RSVP is closed.


The Office of the Vice President for Research is pleased to host the next Water@Wayne seminar on Thursday, March 26, 2020 at 2:30 p.m to 3:30 p.m. in Bernath Auditorium, located in the Adamany Undergraduate Library at Wayne State University. The seminar is free and open to the public; registration is requested.

The Water@Wayne Seminar Series presents "The Great Lakes Water Quality Centennial Study: What's Changed in 100 Years?" with Jennifer Boehme, Science Advisor, and the Ryan C. Graydon, Ohio Sea Grant Fellow, International Joint Commission.

Jennifer Boehme

Jennifer Boehme started at the International Joint Commission (IJC)’s Great Lakes Regional Office (GLRO) in Windsor, Ontario as an environmental scientist in 2012, and assists the IJC in advising governments of the United States and Canada on water quality issues affecting the Great Lakes. Her role includes serving as secretariat to IJC’s Health Professionals Advisory Board, and managing board activities that focus on clinical and public health issues for Canada-US transboundary environmental health. Formative experiences in science policy and communication a fellowship with the American Association for the Advancement of Science at the National Science Foundation greatly supported her IJC work, and has instilled a desire to facilitate similar experiences for other scientists. As a result, Boehme began and supervises a fellowship program at GLRO in partnership with Ohio Sea Grant, to provide similar policy-oriented experiences for recent Masters graduates in STEM fields.

Before IJC, Boehme spent 10 years as a research scientist with an interest in cycling and photochemistry of organic matter in coastal aquatic systems. While at the Smithsonian Institution, she established an analytical lab that examined ties between physical/seasonal factors and organic carbon fluorescence and trace element levels in major international and US West Coast ports and coastal environments. This expanded understanding of coastal carbon and metals supported advice to the US Coast Guard on regulations and management of ballast water exchange verification for commercial ships. she hold a Ph.D. in Marine Science from the University of South Florida and a B.S. in Chemistry from Emory University.

Ryan Graydon

Ryan Graydon is the Ohio Sea Grant Fellow at the International Joint Commission’s binational Great Lakes Regional Office in Windsor, Ontario, Canada where he is performing research in support of the Great Lakes Water Quality Board and the Health Professionals Advisory Board. His primary projects include studying the decommissioning of nuclear power plants, and the effect of extreme rainfall events on water quality indicators and health outcomes of four cities that source their raw water from the Great Lakes. Prior to the IJC, Graydon earned a Master of Public Health degree with a concentration in Global Health Practice and a graduate certificate in Water, Health, and Sustainability from the University of South Florida and a B.S. in Exercise Science from Taylor University. Partnering with host organizations, he has accumulated nearly two years of international service-learning experience across 26 countries. He is interested in sustainable global development and climate change mitigation and adaptation policies and programs.


The importance of clean Great Lakes water to human well-being has been a historic focus of the International Joint Commission under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909. In 1913, the IJC conducted a comprehensive, detailed monitoring study of the fecal-related pollution of the boundary waters of the Great Lakes, and the potential link between disease and sewage pollution. The 1913 study remains the largest fecal microbial water quality study in North America, and highlighted the public health risk of untreated sanitary sewer discharges to the Great Lakes, which were also used as drinking water sources.

Recent work by the IJC’s Health Professional Advisory Board analyzed water quality changes from fecal bacteria after 100 years, compared to the 1913 IJC study, as part of a Great Lakes Water Quality Centennial Study. Findings indicate that modern sanitary sewage collection and treatment systems have greatly reduced the amount of raw sewage discharged into the lakes. Now the predominant exposure to illness-causing levels of fecal pollution is through recreation, though drinking water-related problems do occur. Many of the beaches in the Great Lakes today still experience high E. coli levels and no-swim advisories from time to time, and additional work is needed to improve public health from fecal-related exposures from combined sewer overflows (CSOs), and a variety of non-point sources.

The Centennial Study report considers the potential for binational investment in a basin-wide fecal bacterial/microbial water quality reassessment using microbial source tracking (MST) methods in a sampling effort on the scale of the 1913 study. This reassessment would develop a binational understanding on reducing fecal pollution (bacteria, protozoa, viruses, etc.), improving water quality, and more effectively address sources of fecal pollution like sewage, manure, and waterfowl droppings to the Great Lakes, especially in fecal pollution “hot spots” that receive a high degree of public recreation.

This seminar will provide an overview of the IJC’s responsibilities under the Boundary Waters Treaty and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and examine how strategies of the 1913 IJC study could provide a framework for future binational action under a modern Centennial Study.