Saginaw Bay Forum, Low Ice Cover, and More Toxics in the Great Lakes

great lakes saginaw bay ice cover 2013 google earth

NOAA Coastwatch ice cover map via Google Earth.

Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). As heard 9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, on Delta Q-90.1 FM, Michigan:

1 –

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.

2 –

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

3

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.

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New Book Tells Story of Average Joe and Michigan’s Last-Known Wild Wolverine (Interview)

photo lone wolverine book shaw ford michigan

'The Lone Wolverine' is published by University of Michigan Press

A new book tells the story of Michigan’s last known wild wolverine, which died in the Thumb in early 2010.

The book is by Liz Shaw, a former reporter for the Flint Journal; and Jeff Ford, a former Deckerville high school science teacher.

The book, titled “The Lone Wolverine: Tracking Michigan’s Most Elusive Animal,” was released this month.

(This interview with Shaw aired April 27, 2012, on Friday Edition, Q-90.1 FM, Delta College.)

The wolverine, a female, was found dead by hikers in a Sanilac County marsh in March 2010. The death was attributed to natural causes. The wolverine was about 9 years old.

She is now on display at the Bay City State Recreation Area in Bay County’s Bangor Township.

(Below is a longer interview with Shaw and Scott Seeberger, which also aired on 90.1 FM)

Michigan Enviro Report: MichENN, Green Mosquito Control & Ballast Water

Stories featured in this week’s Friday Edition on Delta College Q-90.1 FM

1.

They call energy efficiency ‘the low-hanging fruit’ because it costs less to save electricity than it does to create it.

One way to get started is to join the Michigan Energy Efficiency Network. The network was created by the Michigan Public Service Commission, which regulates major utilities in the state, including Consumers Energy and DTE Energy.

The network is an online community aimed at helping local governments, schools, businesses and other groups to save energy. The goal is to link people who need energy advice with services and government officials who can provide it.

The site includes information about securing grants for energy efficiency improvements, along with ways to find out about successful projects and cost-cutting measures around the country.

The network is online at MichEEN.org. You can use an existing Facebook or Twitter account to sign in.

Others involved in creating the community include the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth; INgage Networks and Michigan State University.

The address again is MichEEN.org

2.

Controlling mosquitoes is getting greener in Bay County.

Officials say the county’s Mosquito Control agency has been involved in two field trials for a new, organic water treatment project called Natular.

So far, the new larvicide has proven successful in controlling the bugs.

The product has a lower toxicity rate than other mosquito control products, and not as much has to be applied.

The Natular trials conducted in Bay County helped earn the product a green chemistry award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Natular, made by an environmental products and services company called Clarke, is the fifth pesticide to ever receive the EPA’s Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award.

Bay County was one of only a few mosquito control districts in the U.S. to run the field trials.

3.

It’s hard to talk about invasive species in the Great Lakes without talking about ballast water.

Ocean-going vessels have been blamed for introducing numerous invasives to the Great Lakes, including the zebra mussel and its cousin, the quagga mussel.

But environmental groups and others say there’s still a need for comprehensive federal rules to stem the flow of foreign creatures to the lakes.

Michigan has standards for ballast water, which require ships coming from the Atlantic Ocean to use treatment techniques when they discharge ballast water at ports.

Supporters, including the Lake Carriers Association, say federal standards would be easier to meet, instead of having to follow state-by-state standards.

But there are still concerns over how a federal standard would be regulated, and that federal standards would apply to freshwater vessels under a court ruling. The issue is being discussed by an EPA advisory board.

The Michigan ballast water standard took effect eight years ago, in 2002.

— Photo via noricum, Flickr

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