Great Lakes

Weather
5:13 pm
Sat January 11, 2014

Ships on Lake Superior battle ice

The Coast Guard Cutter Buckthorn approaches an ice-laden buoy on the St. Mary's River, where the down-bound lane has been closed due to the severity of the ice.
Credit Credit Coast Guard News (CC-BY-NC-ND) / http://www.flickr.com/photos/coastguardnews/11358608774/

SUPERIOR, Wis. (AP) Ships using Lake Superior are having a tough time due to the worst build up of ice in decades.

Wisconsin Public Radio News reports the National Weather Service started tracking freeze-ups in 1978, and says this is the second-fastest and thickest ice-up in 35 years. Coast Guard Soo Vessel Traffic Director Mark Gill says this is the worst since 1989.

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Environment & Science
1:31 pm
Sun December 22, 2013

Michigan agencies step up invasive species fight

quagga mussel
lakescientist.com

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan officials say after years of planning, they're ready to put in place a strategy for controlling the spread of invasive species in the state's waterways.

The plan is described in the annual "State of the Great Lakes" report released Thursday by the Department of Environmental Quality.

Aquatic invaders such as quagga mussels cost the region hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

The newly developed strategy focuses on early detection of new invaders and a rapid response to rein them in.

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Environment Report
7:58 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Why are Great Lakes birds dying from botulism?

The common loon
Credit Steve Maslowski/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Imagine walking down a picturesque beach along Lake Michigan, and stumbling upon the carcasses of dead birds. That’s a very real and unpleasant problem along Lakes Michigan, Huron, Ontario and Erie. (It’s not as big of an issue in Lake Superior because of the lake’s colder water temperatures.)

Loons and other deep-diving birds are suffering from a disease called avian botulism. It’s form of food poisoning that kills wild birds in the Great Lakes ecosystem.

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Environment & Science
3:08 pm
Sun December 15, 2013

Lake Erie to be focus of Ohio legislative group

Sport fishing boat on Lake Erie.
Credit Mark Brush/Michigan Radio

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A bipartisan group of Ohio lawmakers plans to make Lake Erie the focus of discussions next year.

State Sens. Randy Gardner, a Bowling Green Republican, and Capri Cafaro, a Democrat from Hubbard, say the Lake Erie Caucus will meet in January to address state and federal policies related to the body of water.

The group will look at ways to preserve the environmental health of the lake and to work on related economic growth and tourism issues.

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Environment & Science
10:38 am
Sun December 15, 2013

Study finds food supplies drop in Lakes Huron, Michigan

NOAA

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Food supplies for fish and other organisms are declining in some areas of the Great Lakes, particularly Lakes Huron and Michigan, according to a newly released scientific report.

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Stateside
5:14 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

After 150 years, Keystone State steamer discovered in the Lake Huron

Divers found the shipwreck submerged in Lake Huron.
user Brucegirl wikimedia commons

It's been a mystery that has haunted Lake Huron since the Civil War: What happened to the Keystone State?

The wooden steamer set out from Detroit, bound for Milwaukee, around November 9th, 1861.

She never made it — and no one knew the Keystone State had run into trouble until wreckage washed up on the shore near Lexington.

But thanks to David Trotter, the Keystone State has been found — in nearly 175 feet of water.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Environment & Science
11:10 am
Sat November 23, 2013

Many Michigan agencies lose 2014 beach monitoring funds

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - About three dozen local health departments and other agencies that usually receive state funding to monitor beach waters for contamination won't get any next year.

The funding comes from the federal government. Michigan will get $152,000 in 2014.

But a provision inserted into a state budget bill orders the Department of Environmental Quality to spend $100,000 of that money on one project in Macomb County.

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Environment & Science
9:05 pm
Sun November 17, 2013

National Museum of the Great Lakes opens spring 2014

The new National Museum of the Great Lakes and the Col. James M. Schoomaker Museum Ship in Toledo, Ohio.
Credit Facebook

Organizers are still raising money for what's expected to be an almost $13 million project and they're in the process of putting the final touches on all the exhibits at the museum.

Once the The National Museum of the Great Lakes in Toledo, Ohio opens you'll be able to learn about how booze was transported across the waterways from Canada into the United States during Prohibition.  Along with lots of other cool things about the Great Lakes.

Here's what the museum says on its website:

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Environment & Science
12:32 pm
Sat November 9, 2013

Report: Measure Great Lakes cleanup progress

A view of Lake Michigan near Frankfort, Michigan (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - A government report says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should do more to make sure a Great Lakes cleanup program is meeting its goals.

Congress has spent about $1.3 billion on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative over the past four years. It has funded 1,700 grants for on-the-ground projects and scientific research. It focuses on persistent environmental threats such as invasive species, loss of wildlife habitat, toxic pollution and runaway algae growth.

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Environment & Science
12:48 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

'Lake Erie has 2% of the water in the Great Lakes, but 50% of the fish'

The 2011 algae bloom on Lake Erie. Significant blooms returned to Lake Erie around 2000-01. Researchers are looking into how these blooms affect fish.

The stat comes from Jeff Reutter, Director of Ohio State University's Stone Laboratory. He says the converse is true for Lake Superior. It holds 50% of the water, but just 2% of the fish.

It's a rough estimate, he says, but it gives you a good understanding of how each of the five Great Lakes have unique characteristics, which present unique challenges in managing these lakes.

As part of our series on how climate change is affecting the Great Lakes, Reutter spoke to us about how Lake Erie is especially vulnerable to temperature variations. It is the southernmost, and the shallowest of the five Great Lakes.

He also spoke about how, unlike the other four Great Lakes, Lake Erie is surrounded by agriculture and a more urbanized landscape.

You can listen to him speak about his "50 and 2 Rule" here:

Lake Erie has seen a resurgence in algal blooms over the last ten years. It was once a big problem in the 60s and 70s, and it has returned as a problem again.

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Environment & Science
3:57 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

How one city in Wisconsin may change how we protect the Great Lakes

Lake Michigan.
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

An interview with Noah Hall, a Wayne State University law professor.

A water dilemma is brewing in Wisconsin.

The city of Waukesha (near Milwaukee) is asking for permission to tap into Lake Michigan for drinking water — to the tune of 10.1 million gallons per day.

Waukesha is in a real bind. The aquifer that has provided most of its drinking water for the last century has dropped so far, that the water left behind has unhealthy levels of radium and salt.

So the city of 70,000 is under a federal order to find a new source, and Lake Michigan is just 15 miles away.

But Waukesha has the bad luck to be a mile and a half outside the watershed boundary that encircles the five Great Lakes.

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Politics & Government
7:32 am
Tue September 10, 2013

In this morning's headlines: microbrews, Great Lakes and climate change, bankruptcy affects MI bonds

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Proposal could ease restrictions on microbrewers

"State lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow Michigan’s craft brewers to expand. Among other things, the bills would double the number of barrels microbrewers could produce each year.  They would also let larger craft brewers such as Bell’s and Founders open second locations in the state," Jake Neher reports.

Climate changing Great Lakes levels

"Experts say there's no guarantee that placing structures in the St. Clair River would elevate Lakes Huron and Michigan to their normal levels because they might not offset the effects of a warming climate," the Associated Press reports.

Detroit bankruptcy affects Michigan's borrowing ability

"Michigan cities and school districts sold $71.5 million worth of municipal bonds in August. That’s the lowest amount of monthly bond issued for the state since 2003. It’s a sign that Detroit’s bankruptcy is hurting municipalities’ ability to borrow money," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Environment & Science
4:59 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

Study finds 32 different drugs in Lake Michigan

Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

We excrete these drugs or dump them down the drain, and they find their way into our water.

Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in rivers and lakes have been documented before, but this research finds levels in Lake Michigan that could have deleterious effects on the ecosystem.

Thirty-two different drugs were found - 14 of them were found at levels "of medium or high ecological risk."

The study was published in the journal Chemosphere:

The environmental risk of PPCPs in large lake systems, such as the Great Lakes, has been questioned due to high dilution; however, the concentrations found in this study, and their corresponding risk quotient, indicate a significant threat by PPCPs to the health of the Great Lakes, particularly near shore organisms.

Brian Bienkowski wrote about the study for Environmental Health News. Of the 14 chemicals found in concentrations of concern, Bienkowski writes triclosan has been studied the most.

...it has proven acutely toxic to algae and can act as a hormone disruptor in fish.

“You’re not going to see fish die-offs [from pharmaceuticals] but subtle changes in how the fish eat and socialize that can have a big impact down the road,” said Kolpin, who did not participate in the study. “With behavior changes and endocrine disruption, reproduction and survival problems may not rear their ugly head for generations.”

The four most commonly found drugs were:

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The Environment Report
9:00 am
Thu August 29, 2013

Hunting for plastic pollution in the Great Lakes

Rios-Mendoza on the deck of the Sea Dragon, preparing to go out to test Lake Michigan's waters for plastics.
Lewis Wallace

You can listen to today's Environment Report above.

A research expedition recently set sail from Chicago to search for a Great Lakes garbage patch.

So-called "garbage patches" or islands are actually collections of tiny plastic particles that are choking up regions of the world’s oceans. The expedition has been testing the waters of Lakes Huron and Michigan for a similar phenomenon.

I met up with expedition organizer Asta Mail at a marina in downtown Chicago. It’s a hot day, and a street vendor immediately offers us bottled water.

Mail points down at a plastic bottle in Lake Michigan. It’s pretty easy plastic hunting.

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Politics & Culture
7:00 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Stateside for Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

It's getting close to back-to-school time. So today, we took a look at teachers -- in particular, teacher turnover, and what it can do a student's academic achievement. Teachers leaving their profession costs the nation billions of dollars each year. We ask what can be done to keep teachers teaching.

And, there have been some complaints about the cooler, rainier summer we've been having, but it turns out it's been good for our Great Lakes. Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa joined us today to tell us why.

Also, the historic Packard Plant in Detroit may be converted into a commercial, housing and entertainment complex, but is this feasible?

First on the show, it's Thursday, which means it's time for our weekly check-in with Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes.

And today he's got his eye fixed on the storm clouds that are gathering for the Detroit Institute of Arts. This particular growing cloud comes from Oakland County. 

Daniel Howes joined us today to talk about the troubles the DIA faces.

Stateside
5:57 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Great Lakes water levels are improving thanks to cool, wet summer weather

NOAA

An interview with MLive meteorologist Mark Torregrossa.

There has been a healthy degree of grousing this year by lovers of hot weather.

We had a cool and rainy spring, and certainly this summer has not been a replay of last year's hot, dry season.

But here's something to think about: the cooler, wetter weather is "good medicine" for our Great Lakes and those all-important water levels.

MLive meteorologist Mark Torregrossa joined us today to talk about why.

Listen to the full interview above.

Environment & Science
2:49 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Proposed nuclear dump site a mile from Lake Huron draws concern

Ontario Power Generation wants to bury nuclear waste less than a mile from Lake Huron.
Credit daBinsi / Flickr

Local environmental activists are concerned over a proposal that would create a nuclear waste dump less than a mile from the shores of Lake Huron. Community members met at a town hall meeting this week at Wayne State University to discuss the proposal.

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Law
2:23 pm
Sun August 18, 2013

Drunken boating remains problem on Great Lakes

US Coast Guard

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - The U.S. Coast Guard says boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs remains a serious problem on the Great Lakes.

Personnel stationed on the lakes had issued 89 citations for drunken boating this year through Aug. 13. That's up from 84 during the same period in 2012.

The Coast Guard's district office in Cleveland says the numbers are better than they were a decade ago. Even so, they're worried about an uptick in recent years, especially since it's likely that many violators are not being caught.

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Environment & Science
12:22 pm
Sun August 18, 2013

Feds to survey Detroit River for invasive lamprey

Sea Lampreys attached to a fish
Activistangler.com

DETROIT (AP) - A team with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will estimate the abundance of sea lamprey in the Detroit River this month to determine what control measures might be needed.

The eel-like lamprey invaded the Great Lakes during the 1920s and has remained ever since. Lampreys attach to fish with a mouth resembling a suction cup. Their sharp teeth dig through a fish's scales and skin and feed on blood and body fluids.

The average lamprey will destroy up to 40 pounds of fish.

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Environment & Science
12:45 pm
Sat August 17, 2013

Botulism tied to soaring loon deaths in Michigan

Loons and chicks
Michigan Loon Watch

DETROIT (AP) - An increase in annual loon deaths from a strain of botulism is sounding alarms among Michigan wildlife officials.

The Detroit News reports that it's been common over the years for common loon deaths to hit the hundreds but the numbers reached several thousand in in 2010 and 2012. Experts say invasive species such as mussels and gobies, and algae called Cladophora may be factors.

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