State of Great Lakes Research, Lighthouse Keepers, Smart Meters

For Jan. 6, 2017


1 – Universities in the Saginaw Bay region are helping tackle complex issues facing the Great Lakes.

tawas point lighthouse keepers michigan dnr

Tawas Point Lighthouse. Credit: Michigan DNR

A State of the Great Lakes report released this week notes work by the Saginaw Bay Environmental Science Institute, part of Saginaw Valley State University, and the Institute for Great Lakes Research, part of Central Michigan University (see page 32).

SVSU researchers are using drones for water quality monitoring. The unmanned drones can travel to remote places to collect water samples. They can bore through ice, which is faster, more efficient and safer than sending researchers out onto the frozen Great Lakes.

CMU is using the Beaver Island Ferry to collect data on Lake Michigan. The boat moves people to and from Beaver Island and also uses equipment to measure water chemistry and temperature. 

2 – The Tawas Point Lighthouse is looking for tour guides.

Those selected can spend the summer as volunteer lighthouse keepers, and live on site in exchange for conducting the tours. The program runs from May 17 through Oct. 17.

The lighthouse, located in Tawas Point State Park, has been in operation since 1876.

Keeper tasks include giving tours, greeting visitors, providing information about the lighthouse and the area, and light maintenance duties.

The minimum commitment for staying at the lighthouse is two consecutive weeks.

Applications are available online at

3 – New meters will allow Consumers Energy customers to track usage and save money, the company says.

Consumers Energy plans to complete a five-year statewide project by the end of this year, installing 1.8 million meters for electricity and natural gas.

Midland and Bay counties will begin receiving upgrades in the spring. Clare and Gladwin counties are scheduled for the summer.

Customers can use the new meters to choose their billing date, sign up and receive alerts when their energy use is trending higher than usual, and review their energy use by hour, day or month.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9:30 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR. Follow @jeffkarton Twitter #MrGreatLakes


Saginaw Bay Research on Nutrients, Algae, Asian Carp, and a Delta College LEED Project

The Environment Report. With Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). As heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Q-90.1 FM, Delta College. The June 21, 2013 report:

1 –

A recent international conference featured several studies related to Saginaw Bay. 

saginaw bay aerial searls michigan

Bay City, Michigan, and Saginaw Bay. Credit: Doc Searls.

The 56th annual Conference on Great Lakes Research, held at Purdue University in Indiana, brought together numerous Great Lakes scientists to share findings.

One study, by researchers at the University of Michigan, looked at changes in the Saginaw Bay food web and nutrient tipping points.

Scientists say results suggest that current nutrient load targets for the bay should be revised to sustain existing walleye harvests. That’s due to changes caused by invasive species.

Another study examined algae as a contributing source of shoreline bacterial contamination.

Researchers from Wayne State University looked at concentrations of E. coli and other bacteria from near-shore water, wet and dry algal deposits, and sand collected from a Saginaw Bay beach.

Overall results suggest that the shoreline algae provides a suitable environment for bacteria to persist, proliferate, and impact near-shore water quality.

There was even a study on the potential impacts of Asian carp on Saginaw Bay. U of M researchers used modeling to assess the potential for Asian carp establishment in the bay and the impact on the bay ecosystem.

Information gathered from the model will be used to inform management action plans to control Asian carp in the Great Lakes.

The conference was organized by the International Association for Great Lakes Research.

2 –

Delta College is seeking LEED certification for renovations to its Health Professionals Building.

LEED is a green building standard that stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

The $20 million renovation project is updating a facility built in the late 1970s.

Delta officials are looking at several elements to achieve certification, including the categories of: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy Use, Materials and Resources, and Indoor Environmental Quality.

There are less than a dozen LEED-certified buildings in the Saginaw Bay region.

A highlight of the green renovations is a new rainwater harvesting system, another relatively unique feature for commercial buildings in Michigan.

Officials estimate the system will save almost 170,000 gallons of water each year by using filtered rainwater to flush toilets in the building. That also will save money because city water won’t need to be purchased.

The renovations project is being funded by state and private sector dollars.


Mich Enviro Report: Lake Huron Research, PlugInMichigan & Beach Meetings

As heard on Delta College Q-90.1 FM, Friday Edition (audio link):


Is Lake Huron starving?

An alewife. Credit: Center for Great Lakes and Aquatic Sciences, David Jude

That’s the question asked in the latest edition of the Journal of Great Lakes Research.

Researchers at the US EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office in Ann Arbor have been analyzing data from satellites. The idea is to find out more about the causes of a decline in zooplankton, alewife, and chinook salmon populations in Lake Huron during the last decade.

Satellite data gathered by the researchers shows that the spring phytoplankton bloom, which forms the base of Lake Huron’s food chain, has declined by about half since 2003.

It’s likely that the change is contributing to a collapse in some fish populations, the researchers say.

What’s causing the decline in the spring bloom is still unclear. But it may have a lot to do with invasive quagga mussels in the lake.


You can find out more information about plug in electric vehicles at a new Michigan web site.

It’s at The site was developed under a grant from the Michigan Public Service Commission. The site provides information on topics like the costs and potential saving associated with electric vehicles, along with building codes to follow when installing a charging station.

The site can educate you on some plug-in trivia. For instance, BEV stands for a battery electric vehicle that uses energy stored in rechargeable battery packs as its only method of propulsion. The Nissan Leaf is one example.

EREV refers to an extended range electric vehicle, which has a high voltage battery, electric motors and an internal combustion engine. An example is the Chevy Volt.


Spring can’t come soon enough for some of us. In May, there will be talk of beach grooming in Bay City, and related federal regulations.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to host several information forums throughout the Great Lakes in April, May and June.

Two forums are planned for May 16 at the Wirt Library in downtown Bay City.

The forums will provide an opportunity for people to discuss regulations with Corps officials. Those regulations have to do with work in waterways, wetlands, and along shorelines in Saginaw Bay and other parts of the Great Lakes. Some work requires a permit.

Residents, property owners, contractors, advocacy groups, and anyone else interested in the Corps regulations is invited to attend.

Other forums are planned for Traverse City, Marquette and Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Beach maintenance has been an issue in recent years due to exposed shorelines brought on by low water levels. Invasive plants like phragmites also have created a hassle for shoreline property owners.

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