Friday Edition: Great Lakes Report, Lasers & Poisoned Perch

Thanks to all who listen to the Environment Report, on Friday mornings on Delta College’s Q-90.1 FM.

I’m going to start posting the text from my radio spots, in case listeners are looking for more info. Without further delay, here’s what aired on Nov. 12:

What’s the state of the Great Lakes?  

Getting better, but still in need of help.

Outgoing Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm says the state is working to protect and restore the lakes. She released an annual State of the Great Lakes Report this week that focuses on efforts in the four lakes that border Michigan — Lakes Erie, Huron, Michigan and Superior.

So far, more than 80 million dollars has been awarded to more than 140 projects in Michigan under the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the report says.

Projects in the Lake Huron basin include improvements to the Frankenmuth dam to open up more areas for fish spawning, an international study of Great Lakes water levels, and efforts to detect and treat nonnative plants called phragmites along the shoreline.

Find the State of the Great Lakes report at

It’s too cold to go swimming at the beach. But better beach monitoring, with lasers, could be coming to Michigan.

A low-powered laser testing method has been developed by Purdue University.

The laser shines through samples of E. coli bacteria to determine the origin of the bacteria, which comes from human and animal waste.

In Saginaw Bay, there has been finger pointing about E. coli found in dead algae, or beach muck, along the shoreline. Some people believe the source is human sewage. Others believe large farms deserve more of the blame.

The laser method can allow for faster and less expensive E. coli testing results, to warn beach-goers about contaminated water, according to state officials.

It also can help county health departments determine the source of bacteria linked to ongoing beach closures.

The technology is still in the testing stages.

But the federal government is releasing tougher standards for beach bacteria in 2012, and the laser could help counties meet the new requirements, state officials say.

How do toxic substances affect yellow perch in the Great Lakes?

Scientists plan to poison a number of perch to find out.

The study, by Michigan State and University of Michigan researchers, is on the causes and effects of toxic substances on perch. It will focus on exposure to mercury, which is released to the environment by sources like coal-fired power plants in the Lake Huron basin.

Fish in the study will be given low doses of mercury and other pollutants. As the levels of poison are increased, scientists will examine the effects on fish hormone levels.

The testing results will help assess potential threats to perch and other aquatic life from pollution in the Great Lakes, MSU researchers say.

— Photo via


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