For Friday, Jun 21, 2019 (and June 7, 2019, posting late below)
1 – Don’t celebrate by releasing balloons.
A single balloon can travel thousands of miles and end up polluting an aquatic, marine, or terrestrial ecosystem, according to the University of Michigan. Bird, fish and turtles also can mistake balloon debris for food or get tangled in long ribbons and strings.
The number of balloons found on beaches and coastlines has reportedly tripled over the past decade.
The Alliance for the Great Lakes’ annual “Adopt-a-Beach” shoreline cleanup program has found from 4,400 and 7,200 balloons or balloon debris on Great Lakes beaches each of the last three years, according to the Detroit Free Press.
A growing movement in the United States is calling for more policies and laws to restrict or eliminate single use plastics, including balloons.
Cities like Toledo, Ohio, have passed laws prohibiting the release and, in some instances, the sale of balloons within city limits. California, Connecticut, Florida, Tennessee, and Virginia also have passed laws prohibiting the release of balloons.
There are green alternatives to balloons and balloon releases, U of M notes.
Those include planting native trees or flowers, flying kites, waving flags or banners, lighting candles, blowing bubbles, creating chalk drawings and conducting trail and river cleanups.
2 – The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy is deploying rapid testing for E. coli at beaches across the state of Michigan this summer.
The presence of E. coli bacteria can be an indication of fecal contamination. Swimming in water with high levels of E. coli can make people sick.
In the past, health departments across Michigan have used a culture-based method for E. coli testing at Michigan public beaches that can take 24 hours to get results.
A new method being deployed around the state can produce results in as little as three hours.
The new technology allows same-day results to quickly determine whether or not beaches are safe for swimming.
This rapid testing is being used at 100 beaches with plans to expand to more beaches with a new lab in Port Austin, Michigan.
– Mr. Great Lakes is heard Friday mornings in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR. Follow @jeffkart on Twitter #MrGreatLakes
For June 7, 2019
1 – Great Lakes water levels have reached record highs.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says that based on preliminary data, new record high monthly mean water levels were set on Lakes Erie, St. Clair and Superior in the month of May.
Lake Michigan-Huron missed the record mark by 4 inches, but water levels remain high.
The Corps says record high water levels are possible on all the Great Lakes and Lake St. Clair this summer.
The rises have been fueled by persistent wet conditions this spring across the Great Lakes basin.
Precipitation in May was 21% higher than average over the Great Lakes basin, and contributed to extremely high water supplies to the lakes, the Corps says.
The new record May levels are between 1 and 3 inches higher than the previous records for the month, set in 1986.
A six-month forecast indicates that monthly mean water levels for June will meet or surpass record high June levels on all of the lakes.
2 – Gov. Whitmer has announced an executive decision that farmland sites under Michigan’s Farmland and Open Space Preservation Program can now host commercial solar arrays and remain enrolled in the program.
The program provides tax incentives to landowners who keep their land under agreements for agricultural use.
There are about 3.4 million acres of farmland enrolled in the program. Developers searching for farmland for large solar array projects have had difficulty finding areas that don’t include farmland in the program.
The policy change allows for the use of parcels of land enrolled in the preservation program if they are part of a much larger commercial solar array.
The Michigan Environmental Council says it’s notable that sites that opt to add solar under the decision must also meet habitat standards to protect bees and other pollinators.