Mich Enviro Report: Saginaw Bay Beach Closures, SBCI & Solar Farms

As heard on the March 25, 2011, Friday Edition report on Q-90.1 FM, Delta College …

Saginaw Bay muck yuck. Via http://www.baycounty-mi.gov.

1. 

A public meeting to discuss beach closures in the Saginaw Bay area is set for March 31.

The meeting, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., will be held at the Bay City State Recreation Area, located in Bangor Township.

A public beach at the state park has suffered from problems with muck, or dead algae, piling up along the shoreline.

The beach has been closed five times since 2008 due to high bacteria levels.

The March 31 meeting is sponsored by the Partnership for the Saginaw Bay Watershed.

The Partnership is working with Public Sector Consultants of Lansing to evaluate beach monitoring efforts throughout the Saginaw Bay watershed.

The state funded project aims to identify strategies to reduce beach closings and swimming restrictions due to microbial contamination.

2.

The Saginaw Bay Coastal Initiative has been recognized for helping increase environmental awareness in the region.

The SBCI is a multi-county collaboration that was formed years ago in response to the beach muck issue.

The group, along with state and federal officials, has been working to develop a comprehensive approach to promoting environmentally sound economic development and resource restoration in the Saginaw Bay coastal area.

Earlier this year, the SBCI was recognized for its role as a sponsor of the MiGreatBay website.

The website offers details about amenities in the Saginaw Bay and River area. The information focuses on agricultural, cultural, historic and natural resources in the coastal region.

MiGreatBay was made possible with funding from the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network, the Bay Area Community Foundation and Saginaw Bay Resource, Convention & Development.

3.

An agribusiness has gone green in Michigan’s Thumb.

Mark and Keith Gentner, have installed two 19.4-kilowatt solar power systems at their farm in Minden City, in Sanilac County.

The installation was announced by Great Lakes Bay Renewable Energy, a Bay City business.

Major funding for the installation came through rebates from the customer-funded DTE Solar Currents program, a federal tax credit, and a net metering agreement providing discounts from DTE.

The Gentners expect to save about $5,550 per year on electrical expenses by using the solar panels. Based on this, they plan to recoup their investment in about eight years.

A leader with Great Lake Bay Renewable Energy, an arm of Accent Building, says he sees area farms as a growth opportunity for the solar industry.

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Mich Enviro Report: BaySail Scholarships, Used Car Mileage & Great Lakes Benefits

As heard on Friday Edition, Q-90.1 FM, Delta College …

1.

The BaySail program is gearing up for the spring 2011 season, and offering nine fully funded scholarships.

photo appledore schooners baysail bay city

The Appledore schooners. Via BaySailBayCity.org

The scholarships will go to fund environmental education programs for seventh grade classrooms in Bay, Saginaw and Midland counties.

The program is called Science Under Sail. It features hands-on science lessons aboard two Appledore schooners operated by BaySail, a nonprofit located in Bay City.

Scholarship applications are being taken through March 25th.

The trips will be paid for by the Dow Corning Donor Advised Fund.

Interested teachers need to submit a short scholarship application and a letter of support from a school administrator.

The Science Under Sail program focuses on water quality and ecosystem health. Students aboard the schooners analyze water, sediment and plankton samples that they collect while the ships are underway.

You can find out more information on the program online at baysailbaycity.org.

2.

Car shoppers and car dealers, take note.

If you’re shopping for, or selling a used car, you need to know about an EPA program for window stickers.

Usually, fuel economy stickers only appear on new cars or trucks.

But the EPA is now offering fuel information for used vehicles, in a window sticker format.

The fuel economy ratings for older cars go back to 1984.

The EPA is encouraging car dealers to use the new labels.

The fuel economy numbers are for older model vehicles, but the EPA has applied updates to the numbers based on a new estimating method from 2008.

You find the used car fuel economy labels online at fueleconomy. gov.

3.

There’s a new study out on the economic benefits of restoring the Great Lakes in Michigan.

The bottom line: The benefits far exceed the costs.

The study, done by economists at Grand Valley State University, looked at a $10 million federal project to restore the shoreline of Muskegon Lake.

They concluded that $10 million spent to restore fish and wildlife habitat along several miles of the lake increased the collective value of nearby homes by $12 million.

That same $10 million investment also upped the lake’s recreational value by $2.5 million.

Added together, that’s $15 million of value for $10 million. Not a bad investment, the economists say.

The cost-benefit analysis also doesn’t include other positives, like jobs created by restoration projects.

Funding for Great Lakes restoration is due to drop this year. A total of $475 million was provided last year, under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. This year’s funding could drop to $225 million. The measure is still being debated in Congress.

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Mich Enviro Report: EPA Regs, Native Plants & a Ballast Water Deal

As heard on the March 11, 2011, broadcast of Friday Edition on Delta College Q-90.1 FM
Friday Edition recently won a merit award from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, so you might say this is the latest broadcast from “the award-winning” Mr. Great Lakes …
photo mab award
1.
Scientists from Michigan universities are part of a statewide effort to oppose what they say are attacks on the authority of the EPA.

More than 150 scientists, including professors from Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, have signed a letter to Congress, calling on Michigan lawmakers to resist attempts to weaken the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

The letter asks lawmakers to reject any measure to block or delay the EPA from protecting people from air pollution and human-induced climate change. The scientists assert that efforts to dilute the EPA’s authority will put health, agriculture, the environment and the economy at risk.

According to Stephen Hamilton, a professor from Michigan State University, each year of delay on greenhouse gas regulation commits the US to years worth of severe effects on the climate.

A recent statewide poll showed that Michigan voters support the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from large industrial sources.

2.

Spring officially starts on March 20. It’s time to round up your gardening supplies and ideas.

Using native plants in your yard and gardens can help conserve water. And natives also attract beneficial insects, according to the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy.

Experts at Michigan State University have created a website on native plants, which explains which ones to choose.

The site lists 26 of the best Michigan native perennials for attracting beneficial insects.

What are beneficial insects? Bug that eat other insects, and provide natural pest control in your garden. These natural enemies are attracted to flowering plants, like many native Michigan varieties.

3.

There’s a new development in the fight against invasive species in the Great Lakes.

A settlement has been announced between the EPA and conservation organizations including the National Wildlife Federation and the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

The bottom line: the EPA will be required to create a new permit system that regulates ballast water discharges from commercial vessels based on numeric limits.

Invasive species introduced to the lakes via ballast water include the zebra mussel and spiny water flea.

The settlement requires the EPA to complete scientific reviews of steps that ships should take to prevent the introduction of more invasives to the lakes.

The hope is that the agreement will prompt the EPA to treat so-called living pollution as aggressively as oil spills and toxic releases. Ships will be required to adopt technologies to treat their ballast water.

A draft of the new permit is due by November 2011. Ship owners will have until December 2013 to comply with the new standards.

The NRDC has more info.

Mich Enviro Report: Lake Huron Research, PlugInMichigan & Beach Meetings

As heard on Delta College Q-90.1 FM, Friday Edition (audio link):

1.

Is Lake Huron starving?

An alewife. Credit: Center for Great Lakes and Aquatic Sciences, David Jude

That’s the question asked in the latest edition of the Journal of Great Lakes Research.

Researchers at the US EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office in Ann Arbor have been analyzing data from satellites. The idea is to find out more about the causes of a decline in zooplankton, alewife, and chinook salmon populations in Lake Huron during the last decade.

Satellite data gathered by the researchers shows that the spring phytoplankton bloom, which forms the base of Lake Huron’s food chain, has declined by about half since 2003.

It’s likely that the change is contributing to a collapse in some fish populations, the researchers say.

What’s causing the decline in the spring bloom is still unclear. But it may have a lot to do with invasive quagga mussels in the lake.

2.

You can find out more information about plug in electric vehicles at a new Michigan web site.

It’s at pluginmichigan.org. The site was developed under a grant from the Michigan Public Service Commission. The site provides information on topics like the costs and potential saving associated with electric vehicles, along with building codes to follow when installing a charging station.

The site can educate you on some plug-in trivia. For instance, BEV stands for a battery electric vehicle that uses energy stored in rechargeable battery packs as its only method of propulsion. The Nissan Leaf is one example.

EREV refers to an extended range electric vehicle, which has a high voltage battery, electric motors and an internal combustion engine. An example is the Chevy Volt.

3.

Spring can’t come soon enough for some of us. In May, there will be talk of beach grooming in Bay City, and related federal regulations.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to host several information forums throughout the Great Lakes in April, May and June.

Two forums are planned for May 16 at the Wirt Library in downtown Bay City.

The forums will provide an opportunity for people to discuss regulations with Corps officials. Those regulations have to do with work in waterways, wetlands, and along shorelines in Saginaw Bay and other parts of the Great Lakes. Some work requires a permit.

Residents, property owners, contractors, advocacy groups, and anyone else interested in the Corps regulations is invited to attend.

Other forums are planned for Traverse City, Marquette and Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Beach maintenance has been an issue in recent years due to exposed shorelines brought on by low water levels. Invasive plants like phragmites also have created a hassle for shoreline property owners.

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