Great Lakes shoreline communities get $2 million in water improvement grants

Read the full story at Great Lakes Echo.

New federal grants will support green infrastructure projects such as rain gardens in Great Lakes shoreline communities as part of efforts to improve water quality. The grants totaling $2,045,858 are also going to communities in Ohio, New York, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Indiana for other work, including bio-retention cells and wetlands protection.

CSI Great Lakes: Fish forensics trace contaminants from lakes to streams

Read the full story in Great Lakes Echo.

Some trout in Great Lakes tributaries are just as contaminated with a chemical linked to respiratory, liver and skin ailments as the Pacific salmon that they eat, according to biologists from the University of Notre Dame.

They said the findings should help inform decisions on eating fish, dam removal and stocking.

Pacific salmon, such as Chinook and coho, are large sports fish that live most of their lives in the Great Lakes and then spawn and die in rivers and streams, according to scientists.

New research published in the journal, Environmental Science and Technology, looked for PCBs in their tissue during autumn spawning runs in tributaries of lakes Huron, Michigan and Superior. It compared that tissue with the tissue of native brook trout and mottled sculpin that live fulltime in the same rivers and eat the eggs and flesh of the salmon.

IJC seeks input on binational approach to address microplastic pollution entering the Great Lakes

The International Joint Commission (IJC) invites public comment on its Preliminary Recommendations on Microplastics in the Great Lakes for binational, science, policy, and education solutions to microplastic pollution. Members of the public are invited to provide comments either online or by email at or until November 10, 2016.

Microplastics can enter the Great Lakes in multiple forms and through multiple pathways, including wastewater, manufacturing processes and runoff. They may enter the lakes as already-small debris such as plastic microbeads from cosmetics, pre-production pellets and waste from manufacturing processes, and microfibers shed from plastic-based textiles, or through larger plastic pollution like straws or bags that break down into smaller plastic particles. When microplastics enter the lakes they can be ingested by fish and other aquatic animals. These particles can harm aquatic species and can potentially be passed on to the humans who consume them.

The IJC acknowledges microplastics as a potentially significant threat to the Great Lakes ecosystem and human health, and the proposed recommendations reflect the significant knowledge gaps and need for further information to address causes and impacts of microplastics. The IJC’s four recommendations:

  • encourage a binational pollution prevention plan utilizing multiple approaches and tools,
  • propose developing science-based, standardized, binational monitoring and research into product lifecycles, human and ecological health impacts, and best prevention practices,
  • advise governments to examine, promote, and support pollution reduction and prevention programs that are existing and effective, and
  • advocate funding support for local education and outreach programs and organizations focused on pollution reduction and prevention.

“Microplastic pollution in the Great Lakes can no longer be an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ issue. The good news is that microplastic pollution is wholly preventable, and the recommendations developed here are reasonably attainable,” said Gordon Walker, chair of the IJC’s Canadian Section.

“For once Canada and the US have the opportunity to take preventive action rather than responding after an issue has caused major ecosystem damage. The Commission is seeking feedback from the public and private sector to put forward sound, preventive recommendations,” said Lana Pollack, chair of the IJC’s US Section.

These four preliminary recommendations are based on the Commission’s consideration of findings and recommendations developed during a workshop of experts representing a broad range of sectors. The expert workshop was convened by the Commission in April 2016 and the final workshop report can be accessed online at Microplastics in the Great Lakes Workshop Report.

The Commission is interested in public comments on the recommendations generally and that respond to the following questions:

  1. Are the recommendations sound?
  2. Are any important considerations overlooked?
  3. Are there relevant examples from your community or business to consider?

The public’s input will be used in developing final recommendations to the Canadian and US governments.


Michael Toope

Frank Bevacqua

Sally Cole-Misch

Great Lakes offshore wind farm has funding, but faces hurdles before construction

Read the full story in Great Lakes Echo.

Armed with a $40 million federal grant, the Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. (LEEDCo) plans to start building the first wind farm on the Great Lakes in the summer of 2018.

But government officials, legal experts and opponents of the Lake Erie project say many hurdles remain before construction can begin.

Illinois: New Law Encourages Schools to Donate Food

Read the full story from SCARCE.

For the past year SCARCE Director Kay McKeen worked with Jennifer Walling of the Illinois Environmental Council to get a state-level bill written and signed into law that would prohibit any language in school food-service contracts that prevented donation of leftover food items. The Food Donation for Schools and Public Agencies bill was signed by Gov. Rauner on July 15, 2016 and took effect immediately.

The Grand Calumet River – Fighting its Way Back to Life

Read the full story from U.S. EPA.

A combination of efforts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Indiana Department of Environmental Management had contributed some $52 million—including funding through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Natural Resources Damage Assessment process—to revive the area in and around Roxana Marsh. The revival involved removing upwards of 730,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment. It also involved replacing invasive, cattail-like Phragmites, with native plantings in some 25 acres of wetlands along 2 ½ miles of the Grand Cal River.

U.S. and Canada Release Final Report on Groundwater Science

Read the full story from the USGS.

The 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement includes a commitment to publish a report on relevant and available groundwater science. In response to this commitment, a report that documents groundwater science relevant to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement has been finalized after considering public comments received over December 2015 to the end of January 2016. The report is a product of extensive collaboration among experts in a variety of subject areas and summarizes current knowledge on groundwater in the Great Lakes region.