Trash from Canada Going Up, Weadock Plant Shutting Down .. and Trees

1 – More trash went into Michigan landfills last year.

According to the latest solid waste report from the Department of Environmental Quality, state residents are throwing away less trash, with volumes down a half percent in fiscal year 2013 compared to 2012.

Still, overall waste to state landfills increased by 1.4 percent, due to a rise in garbage from other states and Canada.

Michigan landfills took in almost 7.7 million cubic yards of trash from Canada in 2013, and about 34.5 million cubic yards from state residents.

solid waste landfills michigan

Solid waste landfills in the Bay City, Michigan, area. Click for the full map from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

At current rates, Michigan has about 28 years left before its landfills are at capacity.

Bay County residents disposed of about 380,000 cubic yards of trash. Saginaw County threw out about 708,000 cubic yards.

The report covers the 2013 fiscal year, from October 2012 through September 2013. Read the whole thing here.

2Consumers Energy is shutting down some of its coal-burning power plants, including in Bay County.

Consumers has hired an engineering company called AMEC to decommission seven operating units at its three oldest coal-fired generating plants.

The units are located at the Karn-Weadock complex on Saginaw Bay in Hampton Township, the J.R. Whiting site in Monroe County, and the B.C. Cobb site in Muskegon.

The Weadock portion of the Karn-Weadock complex will be decommissioned, according to The Muskegon Chronicle. Consumers officials have told Michigan regulators that it’s not economical to bring those units (7 and 8) into compliance with federal air quality standards.

The units being shut down across the state have been operating for an average of 60 years, and Consumers plans to retire them by April 2016.

Consumers Energy plans to purchase a 540-megawatt, natural-gas power plant in Jackson to partially offset the planned retirements.

3The ground may be frozen, but trees for planting are available.

The Bay County Soil Conservation District is again sponsoring a spring tree sale.

You can order seedlings of spruce, pine and fir in quantities of 50, 100, 500, or 1,000.

Transplant species of spruce, pine, cedar, balsam and fir can be ordered in multiples of five.

Fruit trees such as apple, pear and cherry also are available, along with strawberry, blueberry, raspberry and grape plants.

For more information, you can call the District office at 684-1040. The District also holds another tree sale in the fall.

– Mr. Great Lakes, as heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

Saginaw Bay Reefs Rock, Helicopter Surveys Wetlands, But Solar Grounded

1 – An effort is underway to restore two historic rock reefs in Saginaw Bay.

The reefs, located in the inner region of the bay, used to be spawning sites for a variety of fish, like walleye, lake herring and lake sturgeon.

hand in air with devil horns black white rock

Let there be rock. Credit: Soumyadeep Paul.

Recent modeling of the bay shows that less sediment is running off the land and damaging fish spawning sites.

So, Bay County leaders say it’s a good time to try and re-establish the rock reefs.

They are gathering letters of support for two different rock reef grant proposals.

According to one letter of support, there used to be a prolific lake sturgeon population in the bay, and it’s possible that these rock reefs will provide suitable spawning grounds for a remnant population.

Restoring the old reefs also could help expand existing populations of walleye and lake whitefish.

2 – The solar industry is adding employees across the Midwest.

Michigan isn’t faring as well as other states in the region, however.

That’s according to a State Solar Jobs Census from the nonprofit Solar Foundation.

The group says solar installers, manufacturers, and suppliers added employees in the Midwest last year at a rate of more than double the national average.

It’s estimated that the solar industry now employs more than 17,000 people in the Midwest — a 51 percent increase from 2012.

In the Midwest, every state except for Michigan outpaced the national growth rate.

Ohio remains the region’s largest solar employer. Missouri saw the biggest gains.

– via Midwest Energy News.

3 – A little helicopter will help study the Great Lakes.

Central Michigan University has acquired the only unmanned aerial vehicle in Michigan that is equipped with a hyperspectral camera.

It’s a six-foot-long helicopter, controlled via computer or by radio waves.

cmu helicopter wetlands hyperspectral camera great lakes

CMU has acquired the only unmanned aerial vehicle in Michigan equipped with a hyperspectral camera that will significantly advance research imaging of Great Lakes wetlands. Credit: CMU.

University officials say the tiny copter will advance research imaging of Great Lakes wetlands.

Researchers will use the helicopter to capture images of vegetation in wetlands throughout the Great Lakes basin.

The camera takes super high-resolution images in 334 colors. Typical cameras capture just three colors.

Instead of capturing an image that shows a tree, for example, the hyperspectral camera will show individual plant leaves throughout a wetland.

Work with the flying machine will focus on fighting invasive species and protecting rare plants.

CMU will use the helicopter for the first time this spring in a wetland area in Washtenaw County.

– Mr. Great Lakes, as heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

Recyclemania, ‘Healthy’ Asian Carp, and the Best Barrier

1 – There’s another kind of March Madness.

The 14th annual Recyclemania tournament began this month. It pits colleges and universities against each other, competing to reduce, reuse and recycle.

The competition goes for eight weeks, running concurrently with the NCAA basketball tournament in March.

This year, students, faculty and staff at more than 461 schools are participating in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Canada, according to organizers.

Participating schools in Michigan include Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant. As of Thursday morning, CMU was ranked 35th in the Competition Division, out of 86 schools.

Schools compete in any of 11 categories targeting commonly recycled or composted materials such as paper and paper-based packaging, aluminum, plastics bottles, electronics and food organics.

Ranking are published online, to allow schools to track their progress and standings against rival colleges.

Last year, 91 million pounds of recyclables and organic materials were recovered during the event.

For more information, see Recyclemania.org.

asian-carp-recycle-logo

Asian carp recycling? Credit: LouisvilleUSACE and StockMonkeys.com.

 2 – If we want to eat our way out of the Asian carp crisis, they’re not all that bad.

Researchers at the Prairie Research Institute in Illinois have found that overall, concentrations of arsenic, selenium, and mercury in bighead and silver carp from the lower Illinois River do not appear to be a health concern for a majority of human consumers.

Results of the study have been published in the journal Chemosphere.

Asian carp impact the ecosystem and fishing industry by out-competing native fish for resources.

Commercial harvest of bighead and silver Asian carp has been proposed to help contain the spread of the highly invasive fish, which are already in the Illinois River, which is connected to the Great Lakes via the Chicago Waterway System.

Researchers say the average mercury concentration in fillets of fish they studied was below U.S. screening values for recreational anglers. Overall, investigators say the carp are low in mercury in comparison to many other commercially available fish.

Arsenic and selenium concentrations in bighead and silver carp fillets examined also didn’t pose a risk to human consumers. MMM MMM Good.

3 – Speaking of Asian carp, another study says placing dam-like structures in Chicago waterways would be an almost foolproof method of preventing the fish from reaching Lake Michigan.

According to the research,  physically separating the lake from the Mississippi River watershed would prevent 95-100 percent of Asian carp incursions, while an electric barrier system would have a success rate of 85-95 percent. Using a combination of sounds, bubbles and strobe lights could prevent 75-95 percent of Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan.

The study was conducted by the University of Notre Dame, the U.S. Forest Service and Resources for the Future, an independent research institution. Their conclusions were based on a survey of experts.

The news follows the January release of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report to Congress, which outlined eight possible scenarios for preventing Asian carp passage through the Chicago area waterway system.

– Mr. Great Lakes, as heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

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