Asian Carp Plan: Separate the Great Lakes-Mississippi Basins for $4 Billion with Four Barriers

What do you think of this? A Great Lakes Commission report on how to stop Asian carp. To be defeated by a bird with a fish in its mouth or a bad kid with a bucket?

Too Far? New Plan to Separate Basins, Stop Asian Carp, Costs Billions (Video)

photo of fish in bucket asian carp invasion plan

Photo by Paul Schultz

 

What’s in Your Water? & How Wetlands Help (Video)

As heard on Friday Edition, Jan. 27, 2012, at @9 AM Eastern. A radio transcript with video? Yes!

photo documentary coastal wetlands great lakes video capture

Screen capture

Glass Half Full?

What’s in your drinking water?

If you live in this region, your tap water most likely comes from Saginaw Bay, via a water treatment plant.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has just released a tool with information about pollutants that are released into local waterways.

The Discharge Monitoring tool allows you to search and map water pollution by local area, watershed, company, industry sector, and pollutant.

Searches using the tool result in “Top Ten” lists that identify facilities and industries that are discharging the most pollution, and what water bodies are impacted.

So to answer the question, top pollutants discharged to the waters in Bay City include ammonia, chlorine and phosphorus.

You can search your city at epa.gov/pollutantdischarges.

WaterLogged Wetland

Michigan researchers are the subject of an environmental documentary.

Film crews recently followed scientists from Central Michigan University and the University of Notre Dame as part of a documentary on efforts to preserve and restore Great Lakes coastal wetlands.

Wetlands serve as a filter for pollution before it enters the Great Lakes.

They also provide breeding and migratory habitat for wildlife, and can be crucial for flood control.

About half of the historic coastal wetlands in the Great Lakes have been lost, according to CMU’s Institute for Great Lakes Research.

The university is leading a $10 million federal research project to protect coastal wetlands in the lakes.

CMU and other universities involved are measuring the ecosystem health of every coastal wetland in the Great Lakes basin, and searching for trends in health and water quality.

Researchers from a total of 10 universities have been collecting samples of water, vegetation, invertebrates, fish, amphibians and birds.

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Mystery Genes in Great Lakes Beach Sand & Fixing Fishing Guides

As heard at 9 a.m. Eastern, Fridays on Q-90.1 FM, Delta College …

Speak Up on DNR Fishing and Hunting Guides

photo e coli bacteria petri dish great lakes beach sand

Photo by Anthony D'Onofrio

The state Department of Natural Resources is working on improved fishing guides and hunting digests for 2013.

But first, they’re asking for public input in an effort to make the guides more useful.

So if you’ve ever struggled to understand or make sense of a fishing or hunting guide from the DNR, here’s your chance to speak up.

Feedback is being gathered over the next several months from focus groups and surveys, according to Michigan United Conservation Clubs.

The surveys must be completed by Feb. 3.

The results will help identify discussion topics for focus groups to be held in late February and March.

For more information, see the Hunting and Trapping Digest survey, and the Fishing Guide survey.

This E. Coli Attaches to Your Intestines

Central Michigan University researchers have found mysterious genes in the sands of Great Lakes beaches.

The genes are from disease-causing E. coli bacteria, which can make people sick and lead to beach closings.

E. coli is a common indicator bacteria used by health departments to test beach waters.

But here’s something more uncommon: The E. coli pathogens found at seven beaches contained genes that can attach to a person’s intestinal wall and secrete toxins.

Those were found in sand at public beaches along Lake St. Clair, and Lake Huron. Researchers speculate that the bacteria could be using these “attachment genes” to survive in the sand.

The scientists say more study is needed to assess the health implications of these findings.

You can read more in the Journal of Great Lakes Research.

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Happy Fish, Environmental Citizenship & the Michigan Envirothon

The Michigan Environment Report, as heard @ 9 a.m. Eastern on Fridays @ Q-90.1 FM

photo happy fish jon evans flickr

Photo by Jon Evans

Fish Passage

Fish are moving again in a Northeast Michigan trout stream.

Ten road-stream crossings over Silver Creek, a stream that flows into a tributary of Lake Huron, were recently improved by the Huron Pines conservation group.

The new culverts allow fish and other aquatic critters to move throughout the creek.

The old crossings either blocked the natural movement of fish or contributed to sediment runoff, and covered prime fish spawning areas.

The Healing Our Waters – Great Lakes Coalition calls the Silver Creek Project a success story.

The $600,000 project was also involved state, federal and private agencies. Huron Pines is headquartered in Grayling.

Patience is a Virtue

Are you a good environmental citizen?

If you’re patient, persistent and confident, the answer is yes.

Michigan State University researchers have been studying the character traits of good problem solves and deliberators.

They say that when people are talking about tough issues, like climate change and sustainability, certain virtues help discussions go more smoothly.

To be a good environmental citizen, then, you should possess virtues that make people feel included and engaged, while producing results.

That includes 14 traits, such as friendliness, empathy, courage, temperance, sincerity, humility, self-confidence, and patience.

The problem, say the researchers, is that educational system isn’t preparing people to deal with environmental issues that are sure to be increasingly discussed in years to come.

Teams Needed

The Envirothon is on.

The 2012 Canon Envirothon competition is looking for participants from Great Lakes states.

According to Great Lakes Echo, teams will compete in outdoor challenges that test their understanding of soils, land use, aquatic ecology, forestry, wildlife and current environmental issues.

Students also can conduct volunteer projects and give presentations about their experiences.

The Michigan Envirothon program is planning regional competitions during March throughout the state, including one in Grayling and another in Lapeer.

A state competition is planned for May at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie.
The national competition is held in Pennsylvania in July.

For more information, see the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts website at macd.org

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Dow Corning Makes Solar Stick, Beach Testing & Saving $4 By Spending $1

photo image solar panels phoenix solar dow corning

Courtesy Phoenix Solar

Michigan Enviro Report, as heard Friday, Jan. 6, 2012, at 9 a.m. Eastern on Q-90.1 FM, Delta College …

1 – New federal beach testing standards are coming out in October.

Meanwhile, a federal study says more beach testing needs to be localized.

The study by the U.S. Geological Survey found that water quality information collected by local officials may provide increased beach access while minimizing swimming-related illnesses from harmful bacteria.

The USGS study found that current water quality testing at Great Lakes beaches may be applied too broadly, possibly resulting in hundreds of beach closings between 2004 and 2010 that may have not occurred if a more localized approach was taken.

By basing beach closure decisions on local variations in bacteria concentrations, beach managers will likely be able to keep their beaches open more often, one scientist says. And this can be done without increasing presumed health risks or violating EPA guidelines.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to release new recreational water quality criteria later this year. The criteria will update current beach water quality standards that are based on sites affected by sewage contamination.

 

2 –

What can make solar energy stick around? How about adhesives developed by Dow Corning?

Dow Corning has just completed a solar installation at its world headquarters in Midland.

The project, done by Phoenix Solar, will allow both companies to collaborate on efforts to commercialize structural adhesives for mounting solar panels on rails.

Structural adhesives developed by Dow Corning can replace metal clamps, clips and bolts that that typically used to secure panels to mountings.

Company officials say using adhesives rather than clamps and bolts can lower the costs of materials and labor, and reduce installation time.

Phoenix Solar has installed  a 23- kilowatt demonstration plant on the grounds of Dow Corning’s corporate headquarters.

 

3 –

Every dollar spent on energy conservation and efficiency measures saves more than $4 in energy bills.

The Michigan Public Service Commission recently released an Energy Optimization (EO) Program annual report (pdf).

The report shows that savings to electrical and natural gas customers from energy conservation programs run by utilities in the state were much higher than expected.

And, the $135 million spent on EO programs by utilities in 2010 resulted in cost savings to ratepayers of more than four times that amount.

Or, for every dollar spent, savings were calculated to be about $4.88.

The money for Energy Optimization programs comes came from surcharges on customer bills.

So if you don’t use the programs, they won’t pay you back.

Residential programs fall into several categories:

  • lighting
  • heating, ventilating and air conditioning
  • weatherization
  • and energy education.

Contact your local utility for more information.

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