State of Great Lakes Research, Lighthouse Keepers, Smart Meters

For Jan. 6, 2017

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/l27jv46zb34by51/mrgreatlakes-environment-report-1-6-17.mp3]


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 michigan.gov/tawaslighthouse.

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

Advertisements

Friday Edition: Great Lakes Report, Lasers & Poisoned Perch

Thanks to all who listen to the Environment Report, on Friday mornings on Delta College’s Q-90.1 FM.

I’m going to start posting the text from my radio spots, in case listeners are looking for more info. Without further delay, here’s what aired on Nov. 12:

1.
What’s the state of the Great Lakes?  

Getting better, but still in need of help.

Outgoing Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm says the state is working to protect and restore the lakes. She released an annual State of the Great Lakes Report this week that focuses on efforts in the four lakes that border Michigan — Lakes Erie, Huron, Michigan and Superior.

So far, more than 80 million dollars has been awarded to more than 140 projects in Michigan under the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the report says.

Projects in the Lake Huron basin include improvements to the Frankenmuth dam to open up more areas for fish spawning, an international study of Great Lakes water levels, and efforts to detect and treat nonnative plants called phragmites along the shoreline.

Find the State of the Great Lakes report at michigan.gov/dnregreatlakes

2.
It’s too cold to go swimming at the beach. But better beach monitoring, with lasers, could be coming to Michigan.

A low-powered laser testing method has been developed by Purdue University.

The laser shines through samples of E. coli bacteria to determine the origin of the bacteria, which comes from human and animal waste.

In Saginaw Bay, there has been finger pointing about E. coli found in dead algae, or beach muck, along the shoreline. Some people believe the source is human sewage. Others believe large farms deserve more of the blame.

The laser method can allow for faster and less expensive E. coli testing results, to warn beach-goers about contaminated water, according to state officials.

It also can help county health departments determine the source of bacteria linked to ongoing beach closures.

The technology is still in the testing stages.

But the federal government is releasing tougher standards for beach bacteria in 2012, and the laser could help counties meet the new requirements, state officials say.

3.
How do toxic substances affect yellow perch in the Great Lakes?

Scientists plan to poison a number of perch to find out.

The study, by Michigan State and University of Michigan researchers, is on the causes and effects of toxic substances on perch. It will focus on exposure to mercury, which is released to the environment by sources like coal-fired power plants in the Lake Huron basin.

Fish in the study will be given low doses of mercury and other pollutants. As the levels of poison are increased, scientists will examine the effects on fish hormone levels.

The testing results will help assess potential threats to perch and other aquatic life from pollution in the Great Lakes, MSU researchers say.

— Photo via nps.gov

 

%d bloggers like this: