WUOMFM

Lake Erie

Historical Collections of the Great Lakes at Bowling Green State University

The National Museum of the Great Lakes is hoping there’s a serpent at the bottom of Lake Erie.

The serpent in question isn’t a new type of invasive species. It’s the Lake Serpent, a shipping schooner lost in 1829.

The Ford Taurus at an auto show
Dave Pinter / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Ford this week announced plans to stop making almost its entire line-up of cars by 2022. That means we can say farewell to the Fiesta, the Taurus, the Focus, the Fusion, and the C-Max hybrid. Only Ford's iconic Mustang and a small crossover will remain in production in the North American market. 

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss Ford's decision to focus on its better-selling lines of trucks and SUVs, and whether GM might follow suit.

A picture of a dock and water with Cyanobacteria (a green film)
NOAA, GLERL

A new report from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency says that despite billions spent in the Lake Erie watershed to improve water quality, there has been no clear trend of reducing phosphorus levels in the state’s watersheds.

 

Runoff of nutrients, mainly phosphorous, from agriculture have been blamed for a series of toxic cyanobacteria blooms in Lake Erie. Ohio has spent more than $3 billion to improve the Lake Erie watershed since 2011.

 

NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Late summer is when we wind up seeing those unwelcome blooms of cyanobacteria and algae in western Lake Erie.

But right now, spring, is when the blooms are set up by a sort of equation: fertilizer plus spring rain equals phosphorus loading, which leads to those late-summer algal blooms.

This photo of Microcystis, a kind of cyanobacteria, was taken in Lake Erie.
Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

When you think about greenhouse gasses that are driving our warming climate, maybe you think about power plants or your car. But lakes can release greenhouse gasses, too, and the amount of nutrients that get into lakes from farms and cities matters.

Road in need of repair.
Peter Ito / Flickr

Gov. Rick Snyder says it's time to raise the federal gas tax to fix Michigan's disintegrating roads. Snyder says the state has done its part by increasing fees and fuel taxes, and local governments have come up with their own ways to increase revenue. Now, he says its the federal government's turn to step up.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about whether that's a realistic expectation.


A cyanobacterial bloom on Lake Erie in 2013.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

An advisory board with the International Joint Commission says the U.S. and Canada should do more to keep nutrient pollution out of Lake Erie.

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.

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.

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.”

eutrophication&hypoxia / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

If you’ve been on social media the past 24 hours, you might have noticed photos trending of what looks like the Chicago River on St. Patrick’s Day.

But nobody will be dying that river for another six months, and this river isn’t in Illinois.

Courtesy of the Isley farm

Blooms of algae in Lake Erie have given rise to a toxin that got so bad three years ago, Toledo had to shut down its water system.

Fertilizer that runs off from farms, into rivers, and then into Lake Erie is a big reason those algal blooms exist.

But some farmers, like Laurie Isley and Jim Isley, are working to reduce that fertilizer contamination.

a picture of the lab in a can
NOAA GLERL

There are concerns that Lake Erie will experience the same kind of toxic cyanobacteria blooms this summer that caused Toledo’s water supply to be shut off three years ago.

Reseachers monitor Lake Erie to detect cyanobacteria blooms as early as possible, but it takes time to go out, gather samples, and then bring them back to the lab for analysis.

This year, however, a “lab in a can” is giving researchers a hand. 

An aerial view of algae blooms in Lake Erie.
NOAA

Researchers are working on creating an early warning system that can spot when algae begins showing up on hundreds of lakes across the U.S.

The project sets out to use real-time data from satellites that already monitor harmful algae hotspots on Lake Erie in Ohio and Chesapeake Bay along the East Coast.

The plan is to have it in place within two years across the continental U.S.

Harmful algae blooms on freshwater lakes are becoming a growing concern and can sicken people and pets and contaminate drinking water.

A cyanobacterial bloom on Lake Erie in 2013.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

A robotic underwater laboratory has been deployed in Lake Erie to detect toxins produced by harmful algae that threaten city water supplies.

The project is intended to prevent recurrence of a 2014 tap water contamination crisis that prompted a do-not-drink order for more than 400,000 residents of Toledo, Ohio, and southeastern Michigan.

The device is positioned on the lake bottom, where it can provide about one day's notice if highly toxic water drifts toward the Toledo intake system.

The federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative paid $375,000 for the lab.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Western Lake Erie may see the third largest cyanobacterial bloom in the past 15 years this summer.

The Lake Erie forecast was released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which funds the research.

Cyanobacteria is fed by runoff from farmers’ fields and urban sources.

Satellite image of algal bloom in Lake Erie taken in 2015.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The state of Michigan just put out an early plan for improving Lake Erie's water quality. And already, it's getting a lot of criticism for lacking specifics, and relying too much on farmers to volunteer for new anti-pollution programs. 

The lack of specifics might be a "fair argument," says Jamie Clover Adams, the director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. But right now, she says state officials don't have all the answers, and need to do more research before they know which guidelines and best practices should be part of the plan. 

This photo of Microcystis, a kind of cyanobacteria, was taken in Lake Erie.
Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

Michigan has a draft plan ready for public comment on how it will help keep phosphorus out of Lake Erie.

All Great Lakes states will come up with their own plan.  Those plans will become part of an EPA-led strategy to fight harmful cyanobacteria, which thrives on the high loads of phosphorus flowing into Lake Erie.

Jim Johnson is Director of the Environmental Stewardship Division of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. 

Ryan Hallock / Creative Commons

Lake Erie's water levels have risen to a near record high, causing flood concern. Some residents with lakefront properties say they've lost patios and staircases due to the rising water.

Jennifer Caddick is a spokesperson for the Alliance for the Great Lakes. She says the rising levels are part of a natural cycle.

"Water levels vary from month to month, and also over decades, and so we go through periods of high water levels and low water levels," Caddick said. "That's just a natural part of the Great Lakes cycle."

Drowning in manure

May 25, 2017
Free Use Photos / Flickr, http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

I want to warn you that today, I’m going to be talking about poop. Specifically, more than 3.3 billion gallons of it a year, all of it produced in Michigan by what are euphemistically called “Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations,” or CAFOs.

Many of us call them “Factory Farms” instead. They are places where animals are crowded in what are anything but humane conditions to be fattened as quickly as possible for slaughter, or if they are cows, drained of their milk.

But beyond animal cruelty, what I’m concerned about is our drinking water. Three years ago, toxic algal blooms in Lake Erie left the water unsafe to drink for a few days.

Saving Lake Erie

Apr 27, 2017
A cyanobacterial bloom on Lake Erie in 2013.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

There’s a little-noticed battle going on across the region to save Lake Erie. Now, I know this story can’t possibly compare in interest or importance to a bunch of football players visiting Rome, or which politician might run for something next year.

A hackathon for Lake Erie

Apr 14, 2017
A cyanobacterial bloom on Lake Erie in 2013.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Pollution and other problems plague areas all over the Great Lakes region, and they can make drinking or swimming dangerous. There’s plenty of blame to go around for this – city water utilities, agriculture, and politicians to name a few.

Now an unlikely industry has joined the search for solutions: technology is taking on Lake Erie.

Wind turbine
Ken Whytock / Flickr

Two birding groups have filed suit to block the Ohio National Guard from building a commercial-scale wind turbine along the shore of western Lake Erie.

The American Bird Conservancy and the Black Swamp Bird Observatory of Ohio filed suit in U.S. District Court in Washington. They say the Ohio Air National Guard’s wind turbine project at Camp Perry, less than a mile from the Lake Erie shoreline, has already violated the Endangered Species Act and other environmental regulations.

A cyanobacterial bloom on Lake Erie in 2013.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The buildup of nutrients in western Lake Erie can trigger algae growth – and contaminate drinking water in nearby cities. That happened as recently as 2014, when Toledo residents could not drink their water for two days.

Jeff Reutter / Ohio State University

The Michigan Agri-Business Association, a trade group representing agricultural interests, is launching a campaign to educate farmers about best practices to keep chemical fertilizers and manure from flowing into streams and rivers that lead into Lake Erie.

The fertilizers and manure contain nutrients that encourage the growth of toxic cyanobacteria. 

A cyanobacterial bloom on Lake Erie in 2013.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Last night I drove almost a hundred miles into Ohio to preside over a discussion with huge implications for Michigan. The topic was the future of Lake Erie, the warmest and shallowest of the Great Lakes and a major source of drinking water for 11 million people.

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

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a health advisory for microcystin. That’s the toxin that shut down Toledo’s drinking water supply in 2014.

It’s released by a kind of cyanobacteria that’s been forming on Lake Erie every year, and it can hurt your liver.

Tom Whitten / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

 

It's an especially precarious time for Lake Erie's future.

That's according to Jeffrey Reutter, an aquatic biologist and limnologist from Ohio State University who has studied the lake since 1971.

It's his belief that if we lose the EPA, we lose Lake Erie.

mark brush / Michigan Radio

Ohio State University researchers say the public is willing to pay part of the price to address Lake Erie’s cyanobacteria problem.  

Satellite image of algal bloom in Lake Erie taken in 2015.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Several environmental groups have filed a notice threatening to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency if it doesn't take action to clean up Lake Erie.

Pages