Great Lakes

The Great Lakes basin is home to the largest freshwater system on the Earth's surface, and the lakes provide 21 percent of the world's fresh water. In northern Michigan, the lakes are key to our way of life, both today and spanning back to the region's first inhabitants. 

David Cassleman

The Soo is one step closer to getting a new lock. The Senate authorized nearly $922.4 billion in funding for the project Wednesday. The house had already approved it as part of a larger water resources act. The bipartisan bill heads to the president’s desk next.

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters says, if approved, Congress would still have to agree to appropriate the money.

"But this is a significant, meaningful step forward," says Peters.

Northland College

If caretakers of the Great Lakes aren’t careful, thirsty people from all corners of the world could come calling for our abundant supply of fresh, clean water.

So warns Peter Annin’s book “The Great Lakes Water Wars," first published in 2006.

Aaron Selbig

Over 4,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline assessed by the Environmental Protection Agency have been deemed impaired.

A new EPA report found miles of Great Lakes shoreline and open water are contaminated by PCBs, dioxin, mercury, and pesticides.

Kyla Bennett is with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, an environmental watchdog. She said the data are particularly concerning for the open water of the lakes.

Colin Shea

Saturdays are for selling fish. On this Saturday, Ed and Cindi John aim to earn a week's income in only five hours.

Cindi unfolds the tables while Ed drags big, blue coolers off their truck bed. They’re filled to the brim with fish – cisco, lake trout and lake trout patties.

“We come out rain or shine,” says Cindi. “If it’s pouring rain, we’ll be here.”

 

The U.S. Coast Guard

Environmental groups say the U.S. Coast Guard is not ready for an oil spill in the Great Lakes.

 

The Coast Guard is required by law to have a plan for a spill.

Sam Corden

There are renewed calls to kill cormorants in the Great Lakes. There are far fewer of these migratory birds left in the region after years of lethal control. But anglers and some congressmen say there are still too many and they eat too many fish. Conflict with these waterbirds is longstanding in coastal communtities where fishing is important and the birds nest by the hundreds or even thousands.

In 2004, there were almost 1,800 double-crested cormorant nests on Goose Island, a strip of land in northern Lake Huron about 500 feet wide and less than a mile long.

Scientists are creating an experimental warning system for meteotsunamis in the Great Lakes.

Meteotsunamis are potentially dangerous waves that are driven by storms.

Eric Anderson is a physical oceanographer with the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“Meteotsunamis are a very particular kind of wave and we don’t yet have the ability to forecast when and where they’re going to occur,” he says.

There's a scene in the 1967 film The Graduate where a well-meaning friend of the family pulls Dustin Hoffman's character aside at his graduation party, and gives him this advice:

"There's a great future in plastics - think about it, will you think about it? ... That's a deal."

But back then, the downside of plastic wasn't apparent.

There's nothing better during a Michigan summer than spending time at the Great Lakes.

Stateside asked you what questions you had about the state's freshwater seas, and we'll be bringing you answers all summer long. 

We'll start today with a question from listener Ted Bonarski in Grand Rapids. 

"Are there areas of the Lower Peninsula where the aquifer is filled with Lake Superior water, so that someone pumping up from a well was getting water that was chemically traceable to Lake Superior?" 

What happens if your dog likes to swim in the lake, but there might be toxins in the water?

It can happen in a local lake or somewhere like the western basin of Lake Erie. Toxin-producing cyanobacteria appear. Some people still call it blue-green algae.

Beaches along Lake Michigan are closed when E. coli bacteria gets too high. But a nasty critter found on the bottom of the lake might help keep the beaches open.

 

President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan will be in Wisconsin this Thursday for the groundbreaking of the $10 billion Foxconn plant.

The Taiwanese electronics company has promised thousands of jobs in Racine County and in return has been offered $4.5 billion in tax incentives. 

Endangered plovers face new threat: snowy owls

Jun 20, 2018
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A new predator has emerged for piping plovers in the Great Lakes.

Snowy owls were recently seen eating plovers in several locations along the Great Lakes, including Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in lower Michigan and Vermilion Point in the Upper Peninsula.

There's no better time than summer to enjoy Michigan's Great Lakes.

It is also a great time to learn something new about the freshwater seas that surround our state.

Because the lakes aren't just the perfect summer vacation spot, they're also a big part of Michigan's culture, economy, and environment.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Some members of the U.S. House of Representatives are meeting in northern Michigan on Monday to discuss lethal control of a fish-eating bird. 

 

If South Haven figures in your Memorial Day plans, get ready: You're going to see mermaids, mermen, and even merkids. 

It's the first-ever Mermaid MegaFest – four days of celebrating merfolk while focusing on preserving our natural freshwater resources. 

When you think of a mermaid story, maybe an ocean comes to mind.

But couldn’t a mermaid live in the Great Lakes? Lake Michigan maybe?

Writers Linda Nemec Foster and Anne-Marie Oomen posed that question to each other ten years ago. Their new book is called The Lake Michigan Mermaid: A Tale in Poems.

We’re coming up on the time of year when people will be testing lakes for toxic blooms of cyanobacteria.

Jason Deglint wants to speed up that testing process. Right now, he says it can take at least a few days.

U.S. Coast Guard

Michigan’s attorney general is suing an Escanaba-based shipping company that he claims is responsible for a mineral oil leak in the Straits of Mackinac earlier this month.

Aaron Selbig

CORRECTION 4/13: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the U.S. Coast Guard said damage to an electric transmission line under the Straits of Mackinac may have been caused by an "anchor strike." The Coast Guard says the leak may have been caused by "damage from vessel activity."

Governor Rick Snyder is asking Enbridge Energy to accelerate it’s decommissioning of the Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.

Aaron Selbig

The U.S. Coast Guard has organized a command post in Mackinaw City to respond to a mineral oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac. Around 600 gallons of fluid leaked from underwater electrical lines west of the Mackinac Bridge earlier this week. 

 


At least 400 gallons of mineral oil have leaked into the Straits of Mackinac.

American Transmission Company operates power lines that deliver electricity between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. The company called the U.S. Coast Guard on Monday night to inform them of a leak of dielectric fluid, which is used to insulate the electrical lines under the Straits.  

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.

Michigan Sea Grant

A Great Lakes group wants paddlers to help in the fight against invasive species. 

Michigan Sea Grant – a group run by the University of Michigan and Michigan State University – is starting a program to teach kayakers and canoers to report aquatic invasive species found along waterways.   

NASA

As Great Lakes advocates lobby Congress this week, a new report details how the federal government and states plan to fight algae blooms in Lake Erie.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s plan targets phosphorus, the main cause of the blooms.  It summarizes agendas from Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

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