Two Michigan pollution hotspots show signs of improvement

Nov 1, 2011

Two of Michigan's "Areas of Concern," heavily polluted sites around the Great Lakes region, have seen recent progress in terms of cleanup. This according to state environmental regulators.

The Associated Press reports:

The U.S. and Canada designated 43 toxic hot spots in the region in the late 1980s. Among them are Muskegon Lake and the Upper Peninsula's Deer Lake.

Among the problems that put Deer Lake on the list were deformities or reproductive problems for wildlife. Another was excessive algae.

This week, the Department of Environmental Quality says those problems have been largely solved, although more work remains to be done at Deer Lake.

The DEQ also says enough sediment polluted with mercury and other toxins has been removed from Muskegon Lake over the past 10 years to lift restrictions on navigational dredging.

In a press release about the Deer Lake cleanup, the Michigan DEQ said in the past 15 years, improvements like upgrades at a nearby wastewater treatment plant, and positive assessments of wildlife populations, such as bald eagles, have allowed them to remove some restrictions and designations.

The lake's fish, however, are still not edible:

Fish in Deer Lake have high levels of mercury in their tissues due to historic mining practices and wastewater activities in the area. Partridge Creek is the last controllable source of mercury to Deer Lake. A multi-phase project will divert the creek out of historic mine workings. Phase 1 of this project starts this fall through a grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and funds from the City of Ishpeming.

Once the City of Ishpeming has completed all phases of the project and the controllable source of mercury is eliminated, the last BUI can be evaluated and Deer Lake will be another step closer to being delisted from the AOCs in Michigan.

     -John Klein Wilson-Michigan Radio Newsroom