Great Lakes

Nam Nguyen / Flickr

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The Asian carp captured this summer near the southern tip of Lake Michigan -- triggering a big scare -- apparently slipped past electric barriers.

Officials announced Friday that an autopsy of the 4-year-old fish showed that it originated in the Illinois/Middle Mississippi watershed, spending about a year in the Des Plaines River area.

It spent no more than a few months in the Little Calumet River before being captured on June 22, about nine miles from Lake Michigan.

USACE

In a long-awaited report, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says new measures are needed to prevent Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes.

The report says the current defense at the Brandon Road lock in Illinois – an underwater electric barrier – should be beefed up. The Army Corps' recommended plan would add water jets and complex noises – like the underwater recordings of a boat motor.

Gino Santo Maria / shutterstock

On Monday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is releasing a study detailing the best ways to prevent Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes.

A document outlining the study says the current defense – an underwater electric barrier – should be beefed up. The recommended plan would add complex noises – like the underwater recordings of a boat motor.

Elizabeth Miller / Great Lakes Today

The first woman to lead the Coast Guard district that covers the Great Lakes is retiring Wednesday.

In the two years Rear Adm. June Ryan has been commander of the 9th District, the winters have been mild. And there hasn’t really been a need for much ice-breaking – what she calls the Coast Guard Great Lakes' greatest challenge.

But she says there’s another challenge – one she’ll continue to fight for, even after she retires. It comes with increased recreational boating on the Great Lakes, especially people using kayaks and canoes.

Payne Horning / WRVO News (file photo)

As high water levels start to recede along the southern shore of Lake Ontario, the question remains: could something have been done to stop flooding that has devastated much of the shoreline?

St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation

The historically high water levels on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River this year have presented those in the shipping industry with both challenges and opportunities.

How can cities keep sewage out of Great Lakes? Dig.

Jul 1, 2017
Elizabeth Miller / Great Lakes Today

Imagine one of the Great Lakes on a sunny day – the water is clear and kids are playing in it. But the day after a big storm, that same lake can reek of raw sewage.

It’s caused by a combined sewer overflow – a common problem in over 700 cities and towns nationwide. Some cities are finding a solution underground.

By 2035, Cleveland will be home to seven enormous tunnels sunk more than 200 feet below ground. The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is constructing tunnel number two on the city’s east side, just a couple of miles from Lake Erie.

Trump budget plan targets Great Lakes funding

May 24, 2017
Elizabeth Miller / Great Lakes Today

The Trump administration released details of its 2018 budget plan yesterday. As expected, it eliminates a $300 million program to help the Great Lakes. But that isn’t the only environmental program targeted.

Hackathon aims to clean up Lake Erie

Apr 8, 2017
ELIZABETH MILLER / Great Lakes Today

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.

“Hackathons” are widespread throughout the world – weekend-long events aimed at solving a problem with technology and new software.  Teams form, develop an idea, and present it all in a couple of days.

Payne Horning

For years, the Sea Grant program has helped Americans learn about the oceans, the Great Lakes and other waters. Now, President Donald Trump wants to stop funding it.

That has some New York educators worried -- including a group of middle and high school science teachers who recently gathered for a Great Lakes training seminar. At SUNY Oswego's Rice Creek Field Station, they clustered around bins full of classroom activities they can implement into their lessons about the Great Lakes. 

Trump calls for more Great Lakes cuts

Mar 31, 2017
Elizabeth Miller / Great Lakes Today

President Donald Trump has already called for major slashes to Great Lakes funding in next year’s federal budget, and now he’s recommending a $50 million cut to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative this year.

The Trump administration would use the $18 billion in cuts to the current budget to increase defense spending and save up for a border wall. The recommendations to Congress also include cuts in programs aimed at Great Lakes education outreach and cleaning up toxic waste sites.

Ice-free Great Lakes bringing lake effect snows

Jan 27, 2017
Catherine Loper / WRVO News File Photo

Areas along the Great Lakes are bracing for big lake effect snows this weekend -- and there probably will be more this winter.

The reason: Water temperatures on all five lakes are higher than normal, so little ice has formed.

When a frigid wind sweeps over all that open water, it can create the huge cloud walls capable of dumping several feet of snow.  

Great Lakes pollutant lurks in your laundry

Jan 2, 2017
Gino Geruntino / WRVO

The United States and Canada are moving to ban microbeads -- the tiny plastic bits in toothpaste and facewash that are big water polluters. Now scientists are focusing on a similar problem -- and it’s lurking in your laundry hamper.

When you do laundry, take a look at the tags on your clothes. You’ll find that most shirts and pants have some synthetic material -- like polyester, nylon or spandex. Every time you wash them, tiny plastic fibers go down the drain.

Elizabeth Miller / Great Lakes Today

A new study from Rochester Institute of Technology in New York tracks how much plastic is getting into the Great Lakes, and where it's going.

Matthew Hoffman, an assistant professor who is part of the research team, says about 10,000 metric tons of plastic is getting into the lakes every year. In Lake Ontario alone, he says, "it's the equivalent of 28 Olympic-sized swimming pools filled with empty plastic bottles."

Great Lakes targeted for offshore wind farms

Dec 26, 2016
Elizabeth Miller / Great Lakes Today

Charles Brush of Cleveland created the world’s first electric wind turbine in the 1800s. He used it to power his home. And since then, wind turbines have popped up all over the world -- but never in the Great Lakes.

That could change with Project Icebreaker, a six-turbine demonstration to be located eight to 10 miles off Cleveland’s shore. 

It could become the country’s second offshore wind farm; the first just started operating in Rhode Island’s waters.

Veronica Volk / Great Lakes Today

Congress' approval of a spending bill will renew funding for a program that aids Great Lakes waters and surrounding lands.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has funded everything from water treatment upgrades to fish spawning habitats to toxic cleanups.

Since its implementation in 2010, money from the initiative has gone toward over 3,000 projects across the region.

Great Lakes plan to combat marine debris

Dec 2, 2016
Elizabeth Miller / Great Lakes Today

A conference in Cleveland is tackling marine debris, the pieces of plastic that wash up on the river, ocean, or Great Lake shores. It's a issue that has affected the health and appearances of beaches around the world.

Marine debris also has a deadly effect on wildlife, especially birds.

“They can get entangled in fishing line or balloon string,” says Jill Bartolotta, an educator with Ohio Sea Grant. “They also eat plastic because they think its fish or a food item, which will eventually cause them to starve to death.”

Maritime school teaches Great Lakes skills

Nov 26, 2016
Elizabeth Miller / Great Lakes Today

At the Maritime Academy of Toledo, students learn basics like math and English. They also take classes on boatbuilding.

On a fall day in the boat lab, a few students are working on the inside of a small wooden boat. They’re gluing pieces of wood together along the inside of the boat before sanding it down.

Researchers scope Cayuga Lake for invasive plant

Nov 24, 2016
Gabe Altieri / WSKG

In September, a class from Wells College was on Cayuga Lake near Aurora when someone noticed a non-native weed in the water. It was hydrilla, an invasive plant that can cause big problems.

Hillary Lambert with the Cayuga Lake Watershed is trying to figure out how widespread the hydrilla is before the lake gets even colder and freezes.

“If we let hydrilla take control, over several years time, it could make large areas of the shoreline impassable every summer,” she said.

Jaime / Flickr, Creative Commons

Saturday is Drug Take Back Day for people across the country. Educators with a program out of Cornell University and SUNY are particularly urging people who live near the Great Lakes to bring leftover prescription drugs to nearby collection sites.

Helen Domske, with Sea Grant New York, says unused prescription drugs are often dumped down the drain or the toilet. That means antibiotics, hormones and vitamins are making their way into our waterways, threatening marine life.

Green vs. gray: how can trees clean up the Great Lakes?

Oct 11, 2016
Elizabeth Miller / Great Lakes Today

A big threat to the Great Lakes comes from outdated sewer systems that can carry bacteria into waterways, and lead to closed beaches and drinking water warnings. Now, some cities are fighting back – with trees.

In nearly 200 communities, sewer systems handle both stormwater and sewage. When it rains a lot, these systems get overloaded, and untreated water -- or sewage -- runs into the Great Lakes or nearby streams and rivers.  

“These outflows happen up to 82 times per year at some spots in Cleveland,” says U.S. Forest Service scientist Michelle Kondo.

Environmental convention focuses on future of Great Lakes

Oct 10, 2016
Angelica A. Morrison / Great Lakes Today

Split pea soup – that’s how some folks describe the Great Lakes back when it was plagued by contamination, pollution and algae. A lot has changed since then.

During the Nature Conservancy conference last week, Jerry Dennis, author of "The Living Great Lakes," described how far the lakes have come.

Dennis’s deep connection with the Great Lakes starts on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Dogs sniff out pollution along Great Lakes

Oct 1, 2016
Rebecca Thiele / WMUK

In the town of Bridgman, Mich., investigators Sable and Kenna sniff samples from storm water drains near a beach. Sable is a 10-year-old German Shepherd, while Kenna, a Golden Retriever, is 2.

The dogs have been trained to sniff out polluted water, says Karen Reynolds, co-founder of Environmental Canine Services.

“If they smell any contamination that indicates human source bacteria, then they will give an alert,” Reynolds said. “Sable barks when he smells that and Kenna will sit.”

Kaylyn Izzo / WRVO News

Each summer, many beaches along the Great Lakes are closed because of high bacteria levels in the water.  But figuring out exactly when to close a beach is difficult, and scientists are trying out a new test that could lead to safer swimming.

Associated Press

Plastic debris is pervasive in the waters that feed the Great Lakes, according to a new study published by the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

The study found widespread microplastics in 29 tributaries, with the highest concentrations in the Huron River in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the Buffalo River in Buffalo.

Microplastics are fibers and beads that come from decomposing bottles, bags, clothing, and even some cosmetic products.

Draken Expedition America

The replica Viking ship Draken Harald Hårfagre has sailed out of the Great Lakes, wrapping up a contentious visit.

The 115-foot Norwegian vessel sailed across the Atlantic Ocean this spring and toured Canadian and U.S. waters all summer. It made stops in Chicago, Detroit and Green Bay where visitors came aboard for tours. But as of now, the Draken has no plans to return to the Great Lakes.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

Some of the migratory songbirds that pass through the Great Lakes region are already on the move, and volunteers at the Braddock Bay Bird Observatory are preparing for them. Hundreds of species – swallows, finches, warblers and more -- visit the observatory on the shore of Lake Ontario, just west of Rochester.

Today, the volunteers are repairing large nets, about 12 feet high with very fine mesh. That’s how they catch the birds.

"When they're flying along, they kind of hit these soft nets and fall into little pockets or hammocks," says education director Andrea Patterson.

Deadly currents -- why they hit the Great Lakes

Sep 3, 2016
Elizabeth Miller / Great Lakes Today

Powerful currents on the Great Lakes have caused more than 150 drownings since 2002, according to researchers. Those currents can appear suddenly, says Mark Breederland, an educator with Michigan Sea Grant.

Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority

Each year, ports on the Great Lakes dredge tons of material to keep shipping lanes open. But disposing of the spoils is a big problem. The Port of Toledo has a creative approach: farming.

The Port of Toledo dredges more sediment than any port on the Great Lakes – up to a million cubic yards every year.  The idea of reusing sediment as soil for agriculture is new for the Great Lakes region and ideal for Lake Erie’s western basin.

Great Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary

Shipwrecks are a big draw for divers and tourists in the great lakes. Now – for the first time in 20 years -- more communities are getting help in preserving and showing off their underwater treasures. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is expanding its national marine sanctuary program. For Oswego and other communities on the Great Lakes, that designation would bring federal funding and a boost to tourism

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