U.S. Steel chemical spill closes beaches, EPA measuring environmental damage

Read the full story in the Post-Tribune.

A spill at the U.S. Steel plant in Portage this week leaked a toxic chemical into Burns Waterway, a Lake Michigan tributary, forcing the closure of beaches in and around the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and leaving officials scrambling to determine the extent of damage caused to the local environment.

Trump’s budget cuts could devastate Great Lakes restoration

Read the full story in Great Lakes Echo.

Eliminating the $300 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative could lead to devastating natural and economic effects on coastal Michigan communities, defenders of the program said.

Trump budget cuts Great Lakes restoration, Sea Grant programs

Read the full story in Great Lakes Echo.

The Trump Administration’s proposed budget is out – and it eliminates the $300 million in annual funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), which finances environmental projects all over the region.

New data summary report: Spotlight on Illinois’ Manufacturing Sector

In 2015, the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR) began a project to analyze data from U.S. EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), Greenhouse Gas Emissions database, and the Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns database to determine the impact of manufacturing on the economy and environment of the six states in U.S. EPA Region 5. GLRPPR’s most recent paper summarizes findings for Illinois’ manufacturing sector (NAICS 311-337).

The full report, The Economic and Environmental Impact of Great Lakes Manufacturing: Snapshot of Emissions, Pollution Prevention Practices, and Economic Impact Using Public Data, is available in IDEALS, the University of Illinois’ institutional repository.

Great Lakes Scientist says, “If We Lose The EPA, We Lose Lake Erie”

Read the full story from Great Lakes Now.

At the 8th Binational Meeting of the Lake Erie Millennium Network, 125 scientists gathered at the University of Windsor in Ontario to hear experts weigh-in on the health of the southernmost, warmest and shallowest of the Great Lakes.

They presented research on everything from climate change, water quality, phosphorous, agricultural run-off, cynobacteria (blue-green algae), hypoxia (deficiency in oxygen), cladophora (green algae) to ice, invasive species, sediment concentrations, and much, much more.

Lake Erie is the smallest of the Great Lakes by volume, and yet it has the highest population living along it’s shorelines, which makes it more vulnerable to pollution and many other problems than the rest of the Great Lakes.

The Canadian province of Ontario as well as the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Michigan share its shoreline. Nearly 12 million people get their drinking water from Lake Erie.

Its primary inlet is the Detroit River.

Lake Erie is important not just for its drinking water, beaches, swimming and boating, but for its fish.  The number of anglers on Lake Erie is greater than any other of the Great Lakes.

The lake, unfortunately, is famous for getting so polluted in the late 1960’s, one of its tributaries caught fire. The incident helped lead to the formation of the EPA, the Clean Water Act and other regulatory agencies and regulations.

Over the past fifty years, there have been incredible improvements to the quality of Lake Erie, but the scientists at the conference admitted they were concerned about some of the old issues that led to Lake Erie’s pollution returning once again without constant research, monitoring and regulations.

Plastic litter on Great Lakes beaches

Read the full story in Great Lakes Echo.

What do cigarette butts, takeout containers, straws and water bottles have in common? They’re some of the most common litter found on Lake Michigan and Lake Erie beaches, according to a recent study published in Science of the Total Environment.

Institute for Journalism & Natural Resources accepting applications for 2017 Drinking Water Institute

Applications due February 10, 2017
Apply at https://ijnr.submittable.com/submit/73785/institute-application

Lack of access to clean, safe drinking water is often seen as a problem suffered in “developing” countries. Recent events in North America, however, have highlighted the fact that our own water is not to be taken for granted.

There is no better place to explore these issues than the Great Lakes -where 40 million people get drinking water from a basin holding one-fifth of all of the world’s available fresh water. From April 2nd through the 8th, 2017, IJNR will get journalists out from behind their desks and take them into the field to see how safe, clean drinking water is “made” and what issues threaten that supply.

During this expenses-paid, weeklong fellowship journalists will:

  • Tour the water treatment plant in Toledo, Ohio to learn what’s being done to prevent a future event like the 2014 algal bloom in Lake Erie that cut off the water supply of half a million people.
  • Travel to Flint, Michigan to talk with residents about how they’re dealing with the aftermath of the lead crisis and meet city and state officials trying to restore faith in the municipal water system.
  • Spend a day in Walkerton, Ontario, where a deadly e. coli outbreak in 2000 brought the issue of drinking water security and agricultural runoff to the front page, leading to the creation of strict new water laws and the state-of-the-art Walkerton Clean Water Centre, where thousands of Ontario water providers have been trained to manage their own supply.
  • Speak with officials in Guelph, Ontario about their concerns over the future of their public drinking water aquifers as both their growing population and private water-bottling companies like Nestle seek to draw water from the same wells.
  • Learn how nutrient pollution and a resulting “dead zone” in Lake Erie complicate the job of the water department in Cleveland.
  • Meet scientists and engineers working on the latest clean water technologies.

Join your colleagues as they explore these and other to-be-determined issues in our freshwater supply and security. IJNR will also provide training sessions in some of the latest digital media technologies and other techniques to improve writing and reporting on natural resource issues. Participants will return to work armed with story ideas, background knowledge, expert sources and training to tell these stories better and inform and engage their readers, listeners and viewers across North America.