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Environment & Science

Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

Water filters that you attach to your faucet are known to be good for filtering out heavy metals like lead and disinfectants like chlorine. But they’re not designed to filter out bacteria that can grow in the filter itself.

asian carp on bucket
COURTESY OF ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it will release a previously delayed report on measures that could be taken at an Illinois waterway chokepoint to prevent Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.

The corps says the report involving the Brandon Road Lock and Dam will be made public Aug. 7. Project manager Andrew Leichty says it will evaluate "structural and non-structural options and technologies."

Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

Perhaps no state in the country is more aware of water safety than Michigan. Seeing the Flint water disaster play out since 2014 has given us all a harsh lesson in not taking safe water for granted. 

Yet President Trump's proposed budget takes an ax to the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), one of the agencies most responsible for protecting our water.

inside of lead service line
Terese Olson / University of Michigan

New University of Michigan research appears to confirm that improper corrosion controls caused Flint's water crisis.

The team of UM researchers focused on the layer of lead scale inside ten service line samples from around Flint. Service lines connect homes and businesses to city water mains. In addition to examining pipe samples under a scanning electron microscope, the researchers pulverized the pipe linings to analyze what they're made of. 

dock surrounded by green water
Todd Marsee / Michigan Sea Grant

The same toxic bacterial blooms that shut down Toledo's drinking water system are a problem in Michigan's inland lakes too. New research suggests treating and preventing them may take a more comprehensive approach than is currently used for most inland lakes.

Courtesy Seth Herbst

A couple weeks ago, this guy in Kalamazoo County sees something a little odd: what looks like a tiny lobster, trying to cross the road.

He takes a picture of it, and sends it to the man who’s been dreading this moment: Seth Herbst, the aquatic invasive species coordinator for the fisheries division at the Department of Natural Resources.

“And as soon as I saw that photo, it was a clear as day that that was a red swamp crayfish,” Herbst sighs. But his day was only going to get worse. Later that very morning, he heard from another person in that same area – Sunset Lake in Vicksburg – who saw a red swamp crayfish walking around in their yard.

This was bad news.

A silver carp laying on top of a cooler.
COURTESY OF ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has completed a report looking into measures to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

That, we know. What we don’t know is what’s in the report, as it’s five months overdue.

Turning an old highway into a "pop-up forest"

Jul 25, 2017
Akron, OH
Ken Lund / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Many cities in the Rust Belt are still shrinking, because people continue to move away. Some have lost so many people, that highways are unneeded, and being removed.

In one Midwestern city, what’s being constructed (at least, temporarily) is giving some people hope for the future of its downtown.

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent.
Credit an Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline continues to face public scrutiny.

Several state officials heard public comment on Tuesday. It was the first of three such sessions planned around the state.

The Enbridge Line 5 pipeline carries crude oil and natural gas liquids under the Straits of Mackinac. Environmental groups say that could lead to disaster.

The feedback will be taken into consideration by independent contractors working on a final report about possible alternatives to the pipeline. A draft of the report was released several weeks ago.

American pika
Erik Beever

We talk a lot about how people can adapt to climate change, and scientists have found that some animals are changing their behavior, too. The ability to change rapidly because of environmental changes is called behavioral flexibility.

Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

Grayling water officials say they’ve discovered “trace” amounts of a type of perfluorinated chemical in the city’s drinking water wells. The levels are far below a health advisory put out by the U.S. EPA.

Grayling Department of Public Works Superintendent Kyle Bond says they first tested for the family of chemicals known as PFCs in May.

User dsleeter_2000 / Flickr

Remember how it was too hot for planes to fly in Phoenix last month?

That could happen more often as our climate warms.

Radley Horton is an associate research professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Horton is an author of a new study on this issue in the journal Climatic Change.

A freshwater jellyfish. This species is clear and smaller than a penny.
Wikipedia Commons

A recent Facebook post has gone viral in the Great Lakes region. A few weeks ago, an Ontario woman posted a video and photo of a small, umbrella-shaped sea creature she says she caught in Lake Erie — a freshwater jellyfish. The video has been viewed more than a million times.

A map of the 13 trillion gallon plume of contaminated groundwater extending from Mancelona, Michigan.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

When I arrive at Bethany Hawkins' home, the first thing she does is offer me a glass of her well water.
"Our water's always been really good," she says.

USFWS

Biologists say the sixth mass extinction episode on Earth is already happening. But researchers say if we only look at species extinctions, we miss a big part of the story.

Paul Ehrlich is a professor emeritus of biology at Stanford University, and an author of a new study about this published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Joanna Paterson / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

23 counties in Michigan have reported one or more unhealthy ozone days each year, on average. That’s from a new analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

An online map the group produced also shows where those high ozone days tend to overlap with high pollen days. That can make air unhealthy for people with respiratory problems.

Paul Cryan / USGS

White-nose syndrome is killing millions of bats in 31 states including Michigan, and five Canadian provinces. It’s a disease caused by a fungus.

But clusters of bats that warm up together during hibernation might have an edge against the fungus. Researchers discovered this by putting temperature-sensing surveillance cameras in caves.

Stateside 7.10.2017

Jul 10, 2017

Today on Stateside, we hear why some alleged victims are furious over former doctor Larry Nassar's plea deal. We also hear why one political consultant thinks the Democratic Party's messaging is still failing to convince voters. And, we learn why Michigan trees are migrating. (Note: It's not all due to climate change).

user jimflix! / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

Most of us expect to hear that trees are moving north in search of colder temperatures because of global climate change. But trees don’t only need colder temperatures; they also need to have enough water.

A new study published in Science Advances suggests that trees are moving west in search of more moisture.

Associate Professor School for Environment and Sustainability Inés Ibáñez joined us on Stateside to share her perspective on the many other global change factors that are causing this migration.

Hubble ESA / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

There's a big new discovery in the world of astronomy.

And "big" is appropriate: it's a giant planet much like Jupiter, revolving around a star about 385 light years from the sun.

“We think we have an estimate of its temperature, somewhere around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. So it’s very toasty on this planet,” said Michael Meyer, a University of Michigan professor of astronomy who is part of the team that discovered this planet.

four soldiers
Elliott Plack / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

For more than a hundred years, medical practitioners have been trying to figure out post-traumatic stress disorder.

Assistant Professor of Practice Marisa Brandt and Associate Professor of Philosophy Robyn Bluhm, from Michigan State University, recently published an article in The Conversation which tells the story of the invisible trauma caused by war and the sometimes barbaric treatments doctors used on soldiers returning home with PTSD.

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent.
Credit an Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

New public meetings began Thursday about the controversial Enbridge Line 5 pipeline.

Several state agencies and the authors of a report suggesting alternatives to the pipeline gave a presentation and took questions. 

The pipeline sends oil and natural gas across sections of lower and upper Michigan, and runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

A report created by Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems, Inc. was released earlier this week. It gives six options for dealing with the decades-old pipeline.

CDC

There’s a newly discovered kind of bacteria that can cause Lyme disease, Borrelia mayonii. Scientists have run tests to find out how long it takes to transmit the disease after a tick bites you.

Fishing on Lake Michigan.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Freshwater lakes provide many things: water for crops, recreation, power plants, and of course, fish. But a new study argues we don’t value those fisheries enough.

The study is from Michigan State University and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Andrew Deines is the lead author. He says we know more about the fish we catch from oceans than we do from freshwater lakes.

Kalamazoo River
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Federal environmental regulators want to remove the Otsego City Dam in Allegan County in an effort to clean up toxic chemicals left behind by the paper mill industry.

The newly proposed plan released late last week also includes excavating some of the contaminated Kalamazoo River banks, and rerouting the river channel past the most contaminated areas.

Solar panels on a roof
wikimedia commons

Solar roof customers are more than paying their share of maintaining the electric grid, according to a new study commissioned for the Institute for Energy Innovation (IEI).

Michigan's new energy law charges the Michigan Public Service Commission with devising a new rate to compensate people with solar roofs when their extra electricity goes onto the grid. 

Michigan Radio

A new study from Harvard University concludes that there is no "safe" level of air pollution.

Researcher Qian Di and colleagues find that particulate matter and ozone kills thousands of people every year, even at levels below the federal standard.  

James Clift of the Michigan Environmental Council says the message for the state is clear: DTE Energy and Consumers Energy should not delay shutting down their remaining coal-burning plants.

Power plant
Courtesy of Duke Energy

Long-term exposure to certain kinds of air pollution increases the risk of premature death in Americans over 65 years old. That finding holds true even at levels of air pollution below national standards.

Inside the Flint water treatment plant.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Next Idea

Take the combined brainpower of Michigan State, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University and apply that to solving the water infrastructure problems we face not only in Flint, but across Michigan.

More than 200 bats move into downtown Pontiac

Jul 1, 2017
brown bat with white nose syndrome
Ryan Von Linden / New York Department of Environmental Conservation

No, this isn't the beginning of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

The bats belong to the Organization for Bat Conservation's new education center, known as the Bat Zone, which opens this weekend

Executive Director Rob Mies says the move to Pontiac from their former space at the Cranbrook Institute of Science means there will be more space for animals and visitors. The bats the organization takes care of are all orphaned or injured — and many hail from much warmer locales — so they won't be flying over downtown Pontiac.

But the new building will also be the center of a nationwide research project on the lives of urban bats.

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