Comment on Michigan Energy Report, Check out GLOS and CrowdHydrology

Mr. Great Lakes, Jeff Kart. As heard at 9 a.m. Friday’s on Delta College Q-90.1 FM. The Environment Report for Sept. 27, 2013 …

1 – After a round of public forums that included one at Delta College, Michigan officials have released a draft report on renewable energy.

What does it say? Michigan’s current renewable standard requires electric providers to obtain 10 percent of their sales from sources like wind and solar by 2015.

Those goals are expected to be met in nearly all cases. The standard has resulted in about 1,400 megawatts of new renewable energy projects operating or currently under development in Michigan.

Consumers have paid about $675 million in surcharges to support the expansion. But due to decreases in renewable energy costs, surcharges are expected to be reduced or even eliminated for some electric providers beginning next year.

Public comment on the energy report is being sought until Oct. 16. Comment here.

The comments will be considered when the final report is written, according to officials from the Michigan Public Service Commission. That final report is due for release on Nov. 4.

Three other draft reports also are due later this year on energy efficiency, electric choice and “additional areas” related to energy policy.

2 – What can you see on the Great Lakes Observing System?

The system, called GLOS for short, now has an online data portal, that’s a clearinghouse for data.

The portal is used by officials to make better decisions about how to use, manage and restore coastal ecosystems.

It’s also available to the public. Information housed at the website includes point observations, satellite observations and model forecasts.

There are a number of stations with real-time and archived information on Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron.

For instance, you can find readings for air temperature, wave height and water temperature, wind direction and wind speed for the bay. By the way, winds were blowing at 9.4 mph on Thursday morning.

3 – A project at The State University of New York allows people to report stream stages using their smartphone. There are three study sites in the Great Lakes.

It’s called CrowdHydrology, and uses crowd sourcing from citizen scientists to gather information on local water levels.

The data can be used by anglers, to monitor spring snowmelt, teach students about the watershed they live in, and quantify groundwater and surface water exchange in streams.

CrowdHydrology is based on another network developed for identifying road kill in California.



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A New Saginaw Bay Research Vessel, and Cleaning Up Microplastics

Mr. Great Lakes. With Jeff Kart. As heard at 9 a.m. Fridays on Friday Edition, Delta College Q-90.1 FM. The report for Sept. 20, 2013:

1 – There’s a new research vessel plying the Great Lakes.

It’s called “Cardinal II,” and is the new flagship of the Saginaw Bay Environmental Science Institute at Saginaw Valley State University.

The 24-foot boat was christened at a ceremony on Thursday (Sept. 19) at the university, with help from a director from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

SVSU officials say Cardinal II will be used for water sampling and related activities.

It will support SVSU’s Saginaw Bay Environmental Science Institute, serving as a mobile classroom for students and faculty researchers.

SVSU recently received a $413,000 grant from the University of Michigan Water Center to support additional ecological studies of Saginaw Bay and develop priorities guide future conservation efforts.

The new research vessel Cardinal II joins others on the bay, including four boats used by the state Department of Natural Resources to study fish populations.

2 – On Saturday (Sept. 21), Adopt-a-Beach cleanups will be taking place throughout the Great Lakes, including on Saginaw Bay.

The public beach at the Bay City State Recreation Area in Bay County is among the sites for the annual cleanup, conducted by volunteers and organized by the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

Cleanups are happening elsewhere in Michigan,  Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

This September’s cleanup is noteworthy because it’s about more than regular manmade debris, like cigarette butts and plastic bags.

There’s the ongoing issue of microbeads that have been found in the Great Lakes. The beads, also called microplastics, are blamed on household beauty and cleaning products that aren’t removed in the wastewater treatment process.

During the cleanups, volunteers will be collecting data and helping support regional research on the tiny plastic particles.

According to the Alliance, the impacts of these particles could include absorption and transport of other chemical contaminants, ingestion by aquatic organisms, or effects on microbial communities in freshwater ecosystems.

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Saginaw Bay Runoff Research, and Algae Maps for All

The Environment Report, heard at 9 a.m. Fridays on Delta College Q-90.1 FM. From Sept. 13, 2013:

-1- Eight research grants, totaling nearly $2.9 million, have been awarded by the University of Michigan Water Center to support Great Lakes restoration and protection efforts.

The two-year grants were awarded to researchers at universities in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota and New York.

The projects will support efforts to restore native fish migrations across the Great Lakes Basin,  improve water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin, and guide ecological restoration of Saginaw Bay.

The Saginaw Bay grant involves $413,000 awarded to a Saginaw Valley State University researcher. The money will go to assess projects within the Kawkawlin, Pigeon and Pinnebog rivers that have been aimed at reducing nutrient runoff from agricultural land into the bay, and develop priorities to guide future conservation efforts.

The grant was awarded to David Karpovich, director of SVSU’s Saginaw Bay Environmental Science Institute.

Karpovich says the project will integrate available data, models, and decision tools to address the scientific gap between the placement of land-based conservation actions and their resulting ecological outcomes in rivers and nearshore areas of the Saginaw Bay Watershed.

The results will be used to guide future placement of agricultural best management practices for the best possible ecological outcomes at the lowest cost and impact to the community, SVSU officials said in a news release.

The project is slated for completion in September 2015.

– 2 – Scientists at Michigan Tech Research Institute are using satellite data to determine where harmful algal blooms are increasing in the Great Lakes and what threats they may pose to water quality and public health.

The project generates maps of the Western Basin of Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron, and Green Bay on Lake Michigan. The maps show the location and extent of blooms, along with areas of water quality and public health concern. The maps are updated weekly, and made available online to the public.

Harmful algal blooms develop when nutrients from agricultural runoff encourage the development of high algae levels that can clog water intake pipes, affect the quality of drinking water, potentially harm pets and make humans sick, according to Michigan Tech.

Climate change is another factor. Algae thrive in warmer water, and the water temperature in the Great Lakes has risen in recent years, and continues to rise.


Great Lakes Literacy Lessons, and More Microbeads Reported

Mr. Great Lakes, Jeff Kart. As heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on The Environment Report, Delta College public radio, Q-90.1 FM. The Report for Sept. 6, 2013:

1- Twenty educators have returned from a science-based Summer Teacher Institute on Lake Huron, according to Michigan State Univeristy Extension.

At the Institute, held in northern Michigan at the University of Michigan Biological Station, teachers worked with researchers studying lake sturgeon, along with coastal wetland ecologists from Central Michigan University’s Institute for Great Lakes Research, and maritime history experts from the federal Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena.

The teacher workshop was designed to advance Great Lakes literacy —- or a better understanding of the lakes and how humans are interconnected with water resources.

Educators from across the Lake Huron basin participated, including teachers from the Saginaw Bay area.

great blue heron lakes

Credit: Rona Proudfoot

The goal of the workshop was to give teachers a chance to learn about place–based education strategies and best practices that can help enhance student learning and involvement in Great Lakes stewardship.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Great Lakes Fishery Trust provided funding for the workshop and project stipends for teachers to implement related projects.

2 – All of the Great Lakes are now home to tiny plastic particles, according to the Associated Press.

Scientists previously discovered the particles in Lakes Superior, Huron and Erie last year.

New work over the summer by Wisconsin researchers uncovered small concentrations in Lakes Michigan and Ontario.

The plastics are believed to be from scrubbing beads in household and beauty products.

The particles are tiny enough to slip through the screens at wastewater treatment plants and be discharged into the lakes, a source of drinking water for millions of people.

Lake Erie seems to hold the highest concentrations of plastics, probably because the particles float downstream from the upper lakes.

The plastic has also been found in Lake Superior sediment.

Research has found that plastic can absorb persistent toxic chemicals. They also can be confused as food and eaten by small fish.

A few companies have pledged to phase out microbeads by 2015.


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