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Lake Huron

A surprising comeback for Lake Huron's native fish

Apr 11, 2013
Photo courtesy of Michigan Sea Grant

For years now, we’ve heard bad news about the Great Lakes. Most of it has to do with invasive species getting into the lakes and wrecking the food web.

One writer called it a slow-moving underwater wildfire.

So it might surprise you to hear that native fish are doing very well in one of the lakes. The changes are so dramatic scientists are a bit puzzled and can’t explain what’s happening.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Governor Snyder signs Blue Cross Blue Shield overhaul

"Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation overhauling Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. The bills let the state's largest health insurer transform into a customer-owned nonprofit and ends its tax-exempt status. The Republican governor signed the legislation Monday at a meeting of the company's board of directors in Detroit," the Associated Press reports.

Detroit EM accused of unpaid taxes

"Governor Rick Snyder is standing by his pick for Detroit’s emergency manager - despite some criticism over unpaid taxes. The Detroit News reported over the weekend that Kevyn Orr had two tax liens against his Maryland home. Orr says he has since paid the taxes," Jake Neher reports.

Flint postpones decision to get water from Lake Huron

"The Flint city council has delayed a decision on whether to take part in a quarter billion dollar project to pipe water from Lake Huron for the city’s drinking water. Council members are concerned the city will end up paying too much.   There is also concern that whatever decision they make could be overruled by Flint’s emergency financial manager," Steve Carmody reports.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The Flint city council has delayed a decision on whether to take part in a quarter billion dollar project to tap water from Lake Huron for the city’s drinking water. The panel delayed taking action on the proposal last week as well.

The project has been in development for years. But supporters say they will soon have to start work on the project. They want Flint leaders to decide now if the city is going to be part of the project. 

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

The race for the Democratic chair

"Michigan's Democratic congressional delegation wants to replace the long-time chairman of the state Democratic Party. Sens. Carl Levin, Debbie Stabenow and five members of the U.S. House wrote an open letter to Democrats Tuesday backing Lon Johnson over incumbent Mark Brewer," the Associated Press reports.

Detroit moves to turn on its lights

"The Detroit City Council on Tuesday approved articles of incorporation for a public lighting authority in the city. The state legislature passed bills in December enabling the lighting authority. Detroit has chronic problems keeping many of its streetlights on, though no one can say for sure how many aren't working at any given time," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Lakes Michigan and Huron at record low levels

"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may take another look at placing structures at the bottom of the St. Clair River to boost water levels in Lakes Huron and Michigan. The lakes are at their lowest levels since record-keeping began in 1918, and many people in the region are demanding action," The Associated Press reports.

Jojeann Riley

The U.S. Coast Guard says a freighter carrying iron ore pellets has run aground on the Canadian side of southern Lake Huron, about one mile offshore of Sarnia, Ontario. The agency there's no reports of injuries or pollution after the shipped named Buffalo ran aground late Wednesday while en route to Cleveland.

The U.S. Coast Guard is assisting Thursday in the response and sent a 41-foot boat to the scene. Sarnia is located across the St. Clair River from Port Huron, Michigan, about 55 miles northeast of Detroit.

The dredge, the Arthur J, sinking on Lake Huron. The boat is owned by MCM Marine.
U.S. Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard says crews have salvaged a dredging barge that sank earlier this month in Lake Huron. The Associated Press reports crews re-floated the 100-foot Arthur J early this morning, and were in the process of taking it to a maintenance dock.

From the AP:

The Arthur J went down July 19 more than a mile from the Michigan shore near Lakeport, roughly 65 miles northeast of Detroit. A 38-foot tugboat that capsized at the same time was recovered earlier. The barge recovery operation stalled last week because of strong winds and choppy waters.

No one was hurt when the two vessels went down nearly six miles north of the entrance to the St. Clair River. Some fuel escaped after the accident, leaving a sheen on the water that reached land.

In a statement, the Coast Guard said salvage crews resumed dive operations Sunday at about 9 a.m. and successfully re-floated the dredge by using compressors to blow air into watertight compartments:

LAKEPORT, Mich. (AP) - The U.S. Coast Guard has begun salvaging a sunken barge and an overturned tugboat in southern Lake Huron.

Petty Officer Levi Read tells the Times Herald of Port Huron (http://bwne.ws/MOX3cS) work began at first light on Saturday.

The 110-foot dredging barge and the 38-foot tug were overcome in rough seas early Thursday about a mile from the Michigan coast and nearly six miles from the opening to the St. Clair River.

No one was hurt. Diesel fuel spilled into the lake, but officials say it's uncertain how much escaped.

The dredge, the Arthur J, sinking on Lake Huron. The boat is owned by MCM Marine.
U.S. Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard issued a press release this morning saying all the fuel valves and vents connected to the fuel tank on the sunken barge, the Arthur J, have been plugged.

Crews continue to work on salvaging the 110-foot dredge barge and 38-foot tug that sank yesterday morning one mile off the coast of Lakeport, Michigan.

From their release:

The Arthur J has ten vents to its fuel tank and responders where able to plug four of them early Thursday afternoon, but six remained open until responders were able to plug them late Thursday night.

The impact to the shoreline has been minimal; however there is visible sheening along the shores of Lakeport, but there has been no report of a thick product wash ashore. However, there is still a strong diesel odor in the air, so residents and visitors of the lower Lake Huron area are encouraged to avoid areas where there is an odor in the air. Those who live in the area should remain inside with doors and windows closed as much as possible. 

The Coast Guard says the Michigan State Health Department has closed beaches from the Blue Water Bridge north to Lakeport State Park.

The diesel fuel that did spill remains on the lake. No wildlife impacts have been reported yet. The Coast Guard says "weather and lake conditions are not optimal for product clean up, but the clean-up efforts continue vigilantly."

The sunken dredge barge and tug were owned and operated by MCM Marine.

Early reports indicated the barge and tug began taking on water around 4 a.m. yesterday. The Coast Guard reports the cause of the accident at this time is still unknown.

The oil spill site is reported to be two miles off the coast of Lakeport.
Google Maps

Friday, July 20, 9:06 a.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard released a statement this morning declaring that the diesel fuel tanks onboard the sunken dredge, the Arthur J, have been secured and that no more diesel fuel is spilling into Lake Huron:

All the fuel valves and vents on the Arthur J have been plugged. 

The Arthur J has ten vents to its fuel tank and responders where able to plug four of them early Thursday afternoon, but six remained open until responders were able to plug them late Thursday night.

The impact to the shoreline has been minimal; however there is visible sheening along the shores of Lakeport, but there has been no report of a thick product wash ashore. However, there is still a strong diesel odor in the air, so residents and visitors of the lower Lake Huron area are encouraged to avoid areas where there is an odor in the air.

Thursday, July 19, 12:26 p.m.

Mlive.com reports that if storms do not let up, all 1,500 gallons of diesel fuel will get into Lake Huron.

The Michigan Department of Enviromental Quality is monitoring the situation from the periphery, and spokesman Brad Wurfel said ongoing storms may limit the effectiveness of the containment boom.

"We're hoping to recover all we can," he said. "But it's anticipated that if the storms do not let up, it's best to plan on the idea that all 1,500 gallons will get into the lake."

The weather, the weight of the fuel, wind direction and underwater currents make it difficult to predict where the fuel may head. Some local beaches may see a sheen, Wurfel said, but the "environmental impact is not expected to be catastrophic."

"The upside is, it's a big lake. A lot of this will dissipate."

St. Clair County officials have closed all public beaches on Lake Huron as a precautionary measure, according to health education and planning director Jennifer Michalul.

A local hazmat team and fire crew are aiding the Coast Guard, which has established 100-yard safety zone around the periphery of the oil sheen.

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Rising water costs have Flint officials looking at the Flint River as a source of drinking water. 

A new study suggests raising the water level in Lake Huron could cause as many problems as it solves. 

 Eugene Stakhiv is U.S. Co-chair of the International Great Lakes Study. 

He says people could build dams or other structures in the St. Clair River to slow the flow of water out of Lake Huron.  

That would raise the level of Lake Huron and benefit marinas and wetlands around the lake.   

But water levels would also rise near Chicago, which already has high lake levels.

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