Great Lakes Today

Great Lakes Today, a collaboration of public media stations, was created to highlight issues affecting the lakes. The main partners are WBFO (Buffalo), ideastream (Cleveland) and WXXI (Rochester). Other stations in the region will also contribute reports. Great Lakes Today is funded through a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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File Photo / Lockport Police

Nearly $3 million in additional relief funding is going to communities in five upstate New York counties along Lake Ontario to help them recover from last year's flooding.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

New York State lawmakers have included $40 million in this year's budget to help property owners who are still cleaning up from last year's flooding along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

Last year, flooding along Lake Ontario caused millions of dollars in damage to homes and businesses. And  in some areas, it drove people from their homes for months.

One neighborhood in Hamlin, N.Y., was hit particularly hard. Now, residents in the community near Rochester say they fear another harsh flood season.


Veronica Volk / Great Lakes Today

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is asking the International Joint Commission to maximize outflows of water from Lake Ontario.

Veronica Volk / Great Lakes Today

Regulators are pushing a record amount of water out of Lake Ontario to avoid a repeat of last year's flooding.

In northern Michigan, people who live near a landfill have been dealing with contaminated drinking water for decades. A new plan for the landfill makes them even more concerned.

North County Public Radio

Floodgates are being opened at a New York Power Authority dam in Massena to spill excess water from Lake Ontario into the St. Lawrence River.

Wisconsin factory sparks concern for Great Lakes water use

Mar 7, 2018

Foxconn Technology's plans for a Wisconsin factory were announced last summer with great fanfare. President Donald Trump led a White House event highlighting the factory that Foxconn says could eventually employ 13,000 people.


Many advocates for the Great Lakes are in Washington, D.C., this week to push back against President Trump's proposal to slash funding for the region. They want Congress to continue its bipartisan support on issues such as cleaning up pollution and protecting drinking water.

Pollution cleanup progresses along Lake Ontario

Mar 5, 2018

Just off Lake Ontario in Irondequoit Bay, Dave Hulburt is doing some work at the BayCreek Paddling Center.

The shop is closed in winter, but it’s unusually warm and sunny by the water. A few cars drive by, a flock of geese flies overhead, but other than that it’s quiet on the dock.

“As for the water quality right here, our staff swims in the creek every day in the summer time,” he says. “We haven’t grown any extra legs or anything.”

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.


In his lab at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, Greg Boyer stands beside his mass spectrometer. This machine is analyzing the chemical makeup of algae samples, specifically, those that produce deadly toxins.


by ANGELICA A. MORRISON

Out on farmland in western New York, near the shore of Lake Erie, is Five & 20 Spirits and Brewing. Here, they make more than just booze. They also raise fish.


Every winter outdoor enthusiasts gather on Black Lake in Cheboygan County Michigan, not far from Lake Huron, on a crusade to catch the state threatened prehistoric fish.


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.


Canada's Royal Botanical Gardens sit near the western end of Lake Ontario, just a short drive from the U.S. border. When the weather is warm, visitors come to see acres of gardens with roses, lilacs and other collections in bloom.

In the winter, it’s much quieter. But scientists stay busy, protecting wetlands from destructive carp. And they're using an unusual weapon: Christmas trees.


This has to be one of the most Zen-like videos of the year: a snowy owl riding the icy waves of Lake Ontario. Now, it's a hit on social media. 

The USS Little Rock, a Navy ship that was commissioned in Buffalo in December, is still waiting for a clear path to the ocean. And it may be mid-March before the ship can leave Montreal, where it waits in port.


On Lake Superior, wolves and their prey are starring in a pair of life-or-death dramas. 

On a Canadian island, wolves threaten to wipe out a once-strong herd of caribou -- triggering rescue efforts. Across the lake, on the U.S. side, the decline of a wolf pack has led to a skyrocketing moose population -- and pleas to import more wolves.  

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.


ANGELICA A. MORRISON

At a pediatric clinic located in one of the poorest sections of Buffalo, 7-year-old asthmatic Victor Small sits with his mother Laticka. The hood on his winter coat is pulled over his head, and as he fidgets with his black skeleton gloves, he begins to talk about what it’s like when he has trouble breathing.

Erie County Sheriff's Office

Six people were safely rescued from the ice about 150 yards off Sturgeon Point Marina Sunday.

If you like ice, you have to love the Great Lakes, where it comes in all shapes and sizes. With the recent deep freeze, we're seeing a lot more ice than in the past few winters -- including a frosty Niagara Falls. ​Here's a look at some unusual shapes and sizes:

Recent icy conditions were the cause of concern for fans of the USS Little Rock. The Navy ship was commissioned in Buffalo last month, but has not made it out to sea.


Finger Lakes Construction and Diving

The Marshall Island flagged Federal Biscay was finally dislodged from ice in the Snell lock near Massena this weekend. St. Lawrence Seaway crews, including three tugs, had worked for five days to move the massive international freighter. It was blocking passage for four other ships on their way down the St. Lawrence River to Montreal as the Seaway tries to close for the winter.

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. 

Flooding along Lake Ontario. A sunken ship. Eerie waves. A dissected Asian carp. All images from a memorable 2017 -- and part of Great Lakes Today reporting that ranged from Montreal to Duluth. Take a look at our favorite photos of the year. 

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