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Environment & Science

1992 LCR document from Battle Creek
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

One of the things Flint’s water operators got in trouble for was falsifying records; for saying the city was testing homes at the highest risk of having elevated lead levels when it was not. But records obtained by Michigan Radio show Flint is not the only city in the state that tested the wrong homes over the years and potentially underestimated lead in water.

The biggest culprit for high lead in tap water is the lead water pipes that connect a house to the water main. That’s why cities are supposed to test those homes.

Hillary Miller

The Next Idea

FEMMES, Females Excelling More in Math, Engineering and Science, is a group of University of Michigan graduate students and faculty who are working to get girls in the 4th through 6th grades excited about science and to get them thinking about going into STEM fields. They do this through hands-on activities and presentations that show science in action.

We reported on FEMMES back in 2014 and decided to check back in three years later. Hillary Miller, a PhD candidate in cell and molecular biology at the University of Michigan and a part of FEMMES, joined The Next Idea to provide an update.

construction workers
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Public and political pressure from the Flint water crisis is beginning to shape new, tougher water regulations in Michigan - and other states are taking notice.

If passed, they’d be the strongest such measures in the country.

Two years ago, when news broke about the Flint water crisis, lots of people wondered if Michigan’s governor would resign. That’s because emails show Rick Snyder’s top aides had concerns about Flint’s water long before pediatricians and scientists proved there was a huge problem.

Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

A bill that environmental groups say would be a step backward in the fight against invasive species in the Great Lakes is on its way to Governor Rick Snyder's desk.

Snyder has opposed the bill, according to spokesperson Anna Heaton, but has not said whether he will veto it.

Grass carp
USGS

There are several federal agencies in charge of trying to control Asian carp, and they just came out with their latest report to Congress on how those efforts are going.

Beehive
Barry Chignell / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Have you ever thought of a bee as a healer? 

Adam Ingrao was serving in the Army until his career was ended by an injury. After his discharge, he somehow landed on beekeeping. He found that tending hives was powerful and healing.

Today, Ingrao is working on his doctorate in entomology, and he's helping other vets to discover the healing power of bees and beekeeping by founding a program called Heroes to Hives.

Map of animals that have evolved in cities.
Marc Johnson & Jason Munshi-South

Cities are creating new ecosystems, and they’re changing the way some creatures evolve. Those are the findings of a new paper in the journal Science.

Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

More than 185 species of foreign fish, algae, plants, insects, and viruses have been brought into the Great Lakes. Many of them are invasive species that are damaging the lakes, such as zebra mussels, quagga mussels, round gobies, and Phragmites.

About a third of those invasive species were brought here in the ballast water of ocean-going ships. As they picked up their ballast water in foreign ports, they sucked up aquatic life along with it.

Natural gas power plant in California
David Monniaux / Wikimedia Commons

The reliability of our power supply is vulnerable to climate change. But the grid can be made more adaptable.

Those are the conclusions of a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change.

On this Halloween day, we hear how hauntings and paranormal activities abound in Michigan. We also learn about the honor system state legislators have when it comes to spending campaign donations. And, researchers explain what sheep have to do with a possible cure for Huntington's Disease.

Dani Mettler / Flickr - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

There's no way to sugarcoat a diagnosis of Huntington's Disease. When a patient has it, they know they're dying from it.

The nerve disease can't be cured, and it causes mental illness and a host of physical symptoms as it progresses.

Yet there's a potentially promising front in the war on Huntington's: sheep.

Wild rice harvesting
Dan Kraker

For generations, Native Americans in the northern Great Lakes have harvested wild rice. It's an important food source. For some it's a way to make a little extra cash. And it's a cultural touchstone that tribal members are trying to pass on to younger generations.

These types of supports have been installed over the last 12 years.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Enbridge Energy reported today that damage to anti-corrosion coating on Line 5 occurred in 2014, but the company never told the state. The reason? Enbridge engineers who found the damage never told higher-ups about it. They said the pipeline was safe, so there was no reason.

But state officials say this is one more instance of Enbridge not sharing information about the line that carries oil and gas beneath the environmentally sensitive Straits of Mackinac.

St. Lawrence Seaway
Kunal Mukherjee / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Even among those who live in the Great Lakes State, there is a lot of confusion about the health of the Great Lakes.

Some believe that because the lakes are clearer than ever, they’re more healthy, when in fact that clarity is due to invasive species killing off the bottom of the food chain.

Water faucent in Flint.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s drinking water regulators need more resources to do their jobs correctly. That’s one of the major takeaways of a detailed federal audit released Thursday afternoon.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched the audit almost two years ago, right after the state at least started to acknowledge that there was a serious problem with Flint’s drinking water.

Sunflowers on the shoulder of a highway
Jocelyn Hall / MDOT

The Next Idea

Scientists have known for a while that America’s bee population is in trouble — some types are even ending up on the endangered species list. Pollinator insects like bees are crucial to food production, and, in agricultural states like Michigan, keeping that population alive and healthy is a big deal.

A small but colorful pilot project at the Michigan Department of Transportation aims to provide some late season meals for those hard-working bees. 

Sea lamprey
Photo courtesy of USFWS

Lakes Superior and Erie have too many sea lampreys.

The invasive fish latch onto big fish like lake trout and salmon and drink their blood and body fluids. A single lamprey can kill up to 40 pounds of fish in its lifetime.

East Rockford Middle School
Rockford Public Schools

One West Michigan school community can feel more at ease. Water samples from East Rockford Middle School were tested, and show no signs of toxic chemicals.

The chemicals that were tested for are known as PFAS, and they are often used to waterproof leather goods.

Today on Stateside, we hear what you need to know as of now about the boil water advisory issued for parts of Oakland County. And, we learn how a Michigan law has found homes for 200 unwanted newborns. 

Aaron Selbig / Interlochen Public Radio

A group in northern Michigan has been working for more than a decade to connect a bike trail between Suttons Bay and Harbor Springs.

But now, one legislator says the proposed path could harm the agriculture industry.

Representative Triston Cole, R-Mancelona, says local farmers have concerns about security and safety along the route.

Catt Liu

If you hit the grocery stores in the Toledo area a couple weeks ago, hoping to pick up some bottled water, you were out of luck.

Several stores completely sold out, thanks to rumors that the city would soon be issuing another “do not drink” advisory for tap water. It didn’t.

But water pollution in the Maumee River and western Lake Erie is creating harmful blooms so large, you can literally see them from space.

Lead service line
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Most water systems operators around the state had a hint this was coming.

The Flint water crisis has reverberated among water professionals working from Muskegon and Grand Haven all through the state and to the Detroit metro area; where the bulk of the state's drinking water lines are still buried.

Map from the MDEQ of affected area
MDEQ

More people in West Michigan might be getting their drinking water tested for chemical contamination.

The state has added 300 homes to its investigation, about 10 miles north of Grand Rapids.

Courtesty of US Air Force

 

Nobody ever thought they would find it: the P-39 fighter plane that Tuskegee Airman Frank Herman Moody, originally of Oklahoma, was flying over Lake Huron when he crashed.

But then, as luck or fate would have it, there was a bad storm on Lake Huron in April of that year, a barge and tug went down, and a cleanup was scheduled.

It was during this cleanup that a set of almost perfectly intact wings were found on the lake's floor.

Saugatuck Dunes
Norm Hoekstra / Creative Commons

Some Michigan residents are saying no to a potential development along the Kalamazoo River in Saugatuck.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality held a public meeting last night to hear from residents about a proposed development project along dunes on Lake Michigan.

OER Training / FLICKR - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Congress is reviewing the Obama administration’s fuel efficiency standards.

There’s been a slew of op-ed pieces from conservative think tanks calling for a rollback of rules that increase fuel efficiency. They’d rather let the market decide – a market that trends toward less efficient trucks and SUVs.

Environmental groups are saying we’ll save fuel, save money, pollute less, and reduce the greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

satellite map of Michigan, the Great Lakes
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

People are gathering in Buffalo this week for the annual Great Lakes restoration conference.

At the top of their list is making sure Congress fully funds the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in the 2018 budget.

President Trump’s proposed budget included massive cuts to the GLRI.

Todd Ambs is the campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition.

M. Horath

Canada geese have been spending their winters farther north.

Scientists have figured out geese are drawn to cities for safety more so than for food.

Michael Ward is an associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He’s an author of a study on Canada geese in the Chicago region.

Ward and his team fitted Canada geese with radio collars and tracked them for two years, trying to understand why there are so many geese in Chicago during the winter.

“And what we learned was that they weren’t going there for food, they were going there because there were no hunters,” he explains. “So all of the Canada geese that spent the winter in Chicago survived, whereas half of the birds that decided to leave the Chicagoland area and go to areas where hunting is allowed and more prevalent were harvested.”

Ward says geese are all about conserving energy.

A lighthouse on Pelee Island in Lake Erie.
Richard Hsu / Flickr

A new partnership has a plan to keep Lake Erie clean. The MI CLEAR group is made up of farmers, conservationists, environmental leaders, and more. Those groups are teaming up with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Jamie Clover Adams is the Director of the Department of Agriculture. She said the multiple perspectives will help improve the lake’s water quality on a variety of fronts.

“This didn’t happen overnight and it’s not gonna be fixed overnight,” she said. “This is a very complex problem that will call for many solutions.”

Wolverine tannery neighbors threaten suit to force cleanup

Oct 15, 2017
Map from the MDEQ of affected area
MDEQ

Residents who live near an old leather tannery waste dump in western Michigan are threatening to sue Wolverine World Wide to force it to clean up the site.

Attorneys for 40 residents near the long-forgotten dump sent Wolverine a notice of intent to sue on Friday.

They want the Rockford-based global footwear company to remove contaminated soil from the 76-acre property, rebury it in a pit lined with a hazardous waste liner and then encircle the property with a slurry wall to contain polluted water.

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