Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). As heard 9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, on Delta Q-90.1 FM, Michigan:
A community forum on the Saginaw Bay environment is planned for Feb. 22 in Bay City.
The forum is sponsored by the nonprofit Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network and the state-created Saginaw Bay Coastal Initiative.
The meeting is from 1-4 p.m. at the Delta College Planetarium in downtown Bay City.
A preliminary agenda includes a talk on “Michigan’s Vision for the Great Lakes and Saginaw Bay” from Jon Allan, director of Michigan’s Office of the Great Lakes; and a status report on Beneficial Use Impairments in the federally designated Area of Concern for the Saginaw River and Bay.
The Friday meeting is part of a series of ongoing meetings that will be held to discuss issues related to Saginaw Bay and its tributary system.
The meeting is an opportunity for groups working on various projects to provide updates on their work, and hear from others.
Ice cover on the Great Lakes is at near-historic lows.
A composite map of satellite data from earlier this week shows thin ice on most of Saginaw Bay. The map is from CoastWatch, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
A CoastWatch manager tells Great Lakes Echo that conditions this year on the Great Lakes could break a record for low ice cover set in 2002.
Earlier this month, average water temperatures on each of the Great Lakes were running 2 to 3 degrees above normal.
A lack of ice cover means increased evaporation, which is bad news for water levels, which are already low in the Great Lakes.
More: Great Lakes Surface Environmental Analysis
Toxic pollution to the Great Lakes increased in 2011.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in a report out this week, says toxic releases into surface waters in the Great Lakes Basin increased by 12 percent from 2010 to 2011.
That’s in contrast to a 3 percent decrease in discharges nationwide during the same period.
The numbers come from EPA’s annual Toxics Release Inventory report.
An EPA official calls the 12 percent increase in the Great Lakes Basin “signifiicant,” and notes that the Great Lakes region is lagging behind other parts of the country when it comes to improving water quality.
Most toxic surface water discharges to the Great Lakes Basin come from nitrates and pesticides from municipal wastewater treatment plants and agriculture, according to EPA.
Nitrates also are discharged by primary metals facilities, such as iron and steel mills and smelters, and food and beverage manufacturers.
The EPA says information from the latest report will be used to work with municipalities, agricultural producers and manufacturers to improve water quality in the basin.