Elizabeth Miller

Great Lakes Today Reporter/Producer

Reporter/producer Elizabeth Miller joined ideastream after a stint at NPR headquarters in Washington D.C., where she served as an intern on the National Desk, pitching stories about everything from a gentrified Brooklyn deli to an app for lost dogs. Before that, she covered weekend news at WAKR in Akron and interned at WCBE, a Columbus NPR affiliate. Elizabeth grew up in Columbus before moving north to attend Baldwin Wallace, where she graduated with a degree in broadcasting and mass communications.

Canada and the province of Ontario recently released their plan to combat toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie.  Phosphorus is the primary cause of the blooms that turn parts of the lake green most summers.

The U.S. and Canada hope to reduce phosphorus in Lake Erie by 40 percent, from 2008 levels.  It’s all part of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

President Trump pushed Monday to slash funding for the Great Lakes -- repeating a move he made last year.

Trump released a budget proposal that would slash funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative from $300 million annually to $30 million.

The Great Lakes Waterways Conference is this week in downtown Cleveland.  Sessions over the two-day meeting will focus on autonomous technology, government partnerships, and Great Lakes developments.

New plant in Toledo will increase shipping for city's port

During the summer, Lake Erie’s western basin is full of boaters and tourists, especially near the islands that lie west of Cleveland. But come winter, the lake is empty, still, and sometimes frozen.

This is the drive behind Julia Christensen’s newest art project, Waiting for a Break.

The U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards have assisted over 300 ships this winter, one of the most demanding years for icebreaking. 

So far, the Great Lakes ice cover is more extensive than it has been in the last two years.  A big freeze hit the region right at the end of the shipping season, causing problems for several of the region’s biggest industries.

At the Six Nations of the Grand River reserve, about 10 men are gathered in a classroom in the Haudenosaunee community center.  The older men are teaching about traditions – on this day, a funeral ritual.  But soon, Leroy Hill shifts the conversation to a new topic: water.

 “Is there anybody here who don’t have to either buy water or get it hauled?” Hill asks.'

Bill Nehez/CSU Cleveland Memory Project

Would you want an industrial waste dump near your house? Probably not. But across the country, environmental hazards like waste dumps tend to be located near minority communities.

Michelle Laffin

Prolonged arctic cold is wreaking havoc on the maritime industry across the Great Lakes. The latest problem: A commercial freighter is stuck in ice in a lock near Massena, N.Y., and it's preventing the St. Lawrence Seaway from closing for the winter.

A new year brings new opportunities for recreation and commercial interests along the Great Lakes. It also means seven gubernatorial elections in states that border the lakes, and growing concern over climate change.

Great Lakes Today asked environmental groups and others for their thoughts on 2017 -- and what’s to come in the new year. One issue stood out: the wide gap between regional interests and the Trump administration. 

This year brought with it a few threats to Great Lakes health -- an above average algae bloom and an Asian carp sighting.  But a financial threat also loomed over the lakes this year. 

On the Great Lakes, boat and ship traffic is slowing down for the winter.  Meanwhile, in Cleveland, residents have a chance to watch Lake Erie change as ice builds up -- and breaks up.

Note: Updated on Dec. 6, based on lake surface temperatures in November, which significantly lowered predictions for the ice cover. --

Over the past two winters, the Great Lakes have had a below-average ice cover. And that’s expected to continue this year.  

A new report from the International Joint Commission, a bi-national agency, says the Great Lakes restoration continues to progress -- but not quickly enough.


It’s been a year of natural disasters in the U.S., with wildfires on the west coast, hurricanes in the south – and even flooding along Lake Ontario.  Are hospitals prepared to deal with extreme weather and other impacts of climate change?    

It may be hard to imagine a composer being inspired by public hearings and court cases. But Lake Erie and its problems take center stage in a new oratorio from Cleveland composer Margaret Brouwer.

The 2017 algae bloom is over in western Lake Erie.  And while it didn’t directly threaten drinking water, its bright green hue prompted national attention and hurt Lake Erie’s tourism business. 

Over the years, billions of dollars have been allocated to restoring the Great Lakes – whether its money spent cleaning up pollution, preventing invasive species, or educating the public.  A new regional initiative will analyze how effective some of these efforts – and dollars – have been so far. 

As the Healing Our Waters conference gets underway in Buffalo, environmental advocates from around the region have a front-row seat to issues central to the city.

But the conference is also a time to gather hundreds of environmentalists and start to inspire change -- on issues like diversity.  

Algae blooms continue to color western Lake Erie a deep green. Now researchers and scientists want to know more about toxins produced by the algae -- and they’re getting help from some unlikely sources.

Tens of thousands of fish were killed off in streams in the western Lake Erie basin earlier this year. Now the state of Ohio is holding three men responsible for the fish kills.

There are so many plans and programs in place to clean up the Great Lakes, it’s hard to keep track. In mid-October, environmentalists from across the region will meet to discuss their biggest challenges. 

Restoring wetlands, fish success stories, and the relationship between wildlife and microplastics will all be discussed at the conference hosted by the National Wildlife Federation’s Healing our Waters Coalition. 

There are thousands of islands in the Great Lakes – most of them small and only suitable for wildlife.  But a few have year-round residents, and there is a burgeoning plan to create an islands coalition.

The algae bloom season continues in western Lake Erie, casting turning the lake and Maumee River green.  These photos show the bloom's progression from mid-September to the end of the month.

Final part of a series

I meet Kim Smith-Woodford on a rainy day at Euclid Creek Reservation east of Cleveland.  It’s a big wooded area, with a trail lining the creek and shelters for birthday parties.

The park is an urban oasis – where folks from all backgrounds go for exercise or a picnic.  And it means a lot to Smith-Woodford.  It’s where she became more interested in the outdoors.

Part 2 of a series

You don’t have to look very far for events redefining the environmental movement – in terms of who works for advocacy groups and who they work for. Just go back to 2014.

Part 1 of a series

The environmental movement started more than a century ago.  Theodore Roosevelt was known as the conservation president, and there’s a famous 1903 photo of him with the Sierra Club’s founder.

“That photo represented the environmental movement of Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir and this is the two of them in Yosemite National Park,” says Aaron Mair, past president of the Sierra Club – and its first black president

Western Lake Erie’s algae bloom is in full swing – and the water is a sickly green.  

At Maumee Bay State Park near Toledo, Ohio, the lake looks like it’s covered in paint. Thick lines of scum swirl around as the sun beats down.


Researchers recently announced the discovery of over 7,000 grass carp eggs in a Lake Erie tributary.  The good news? This isn’t the Asian carp species we’re trying to prevent from entering the Great Lakes.  The bad news? Grass carp pose a different threat. 

Asian carp is a catch-all term for four different species of invasive carp: black, grass, silver, and bighead. 

Update 9/12/2017: The  City of Toledo has moved its water quality dashboard back to clear.

For a city on Lake Erie, it's the season for monitoring toxic algae blooms -- and drinking water.

Toledo Ohio know how dangerous the blooms can be. In 2014, toxins contaminated its water supply, forcing a "do not drink or boil” advisory for two days.

A new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls 2016 the warmest year on record around the globe.  The surface temperature of the Great Lakes was also above average -- and that's not good news.