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.

Ways to Connect

Despite a White House proposal to eliminate $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the House Appropriations Committee voted late Tuesday to fully fund the program through September 2018.

The vote marks an important step toward securing funding for the Great Lakes cleanup program in the federal budget for the next fiscal year.


On Tuesday, environmental advocates will be watching closely as a Congressional spending committee considers a $300 million restoration program for the Great Lakes.

Update: Committee vote is good news for the Great Lakes.

President Trump's 2018 budget plan eliminated the money, which has gone to a wide range of projects -- from cleaning up pollution to battling the Asian carp. Now, Congress has a chance to restore funding to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

​As scientists forecast a significant algae bloom in Lake Erie this summer, environmental groups are calling for tougher government policies to reduce pollution from farms.


Invasive fish and plants that have plagued the Great Lakes region for decades are getting some special attention this week.


USGS, FEMA assessing Lake Ontario flooding impact

Jul 13, 2017

U.S. Geological Survey scientists are using drones, radar and water-pressure sensors to track the effects of flooding along the Lake Ontario shoreline to help emergency managers track and respond to historic levels of flooding.

There's some good news from Illinois, where an Asian Carp was recently caught just nine miles from Lake Michigan.

In two weeks of intensive, follow-up monitoring, no bighead or silver Asian carp were found, a regional monitoring group says.  

U.S. Coast Guard File Photo

The U.S. Coast Guard rescued 13 people and assisted 16 others over the past busy weekend across the Great Lakes.

It’s easier to get to Sheila Consaul’s summer home by boat than by foot.  It sits at the edge of an Ohio state park 30 miles east of Cleveland.

“Unless you have a boat, the only way to get here is to park in Mentor Headlands Beach parking lot, walk out through the dunes area to the beach itself, walk along the beach, and then you have to get up on the breakwall,” she says.

  

Upset by continued flooding on the Lake Ontario shoreline, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to shake up the bi-national group that helps to regulate the Great Lakes.

"Anyone there? Please, tell us - we're all tired and we're all hungry. Please come back!"

Fake distress calls like this one placed via marine radio can sound identical to real ones. And the U.S. Coast Guard 9th District, which covers the Great Lakes, takes every call seriously.

But the number of fake calls has skyrocketed this year.


The Erie Canal's 200 years old. Strike up the band.

Jul 6, 2017

The first shovels to dig the Erie Canal went into the ground on July 4th, 1817. When it was completed in 1825, the canal transformed the nation’s economy, allowing goods to move from the Hudson River to cities along the Great Lakes.

To mark the occasion, David Alan Miller, the Albany Symphony Orchestra’s music director, dreamed up the plan to commission and perform original works at seven stops along the route.


Historically high water levels on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River are presenting the shipping industry with both challenges and opportunities. 


Flooding along Lake Ontario is still causing problems in Toronto, the biggest city in Canada, particularly for the picturesque harbor islands.


New York Congressmen who represent the southern shore of Lake Ontario say a U.S.-Canada regulatory body should pay for damages caused by weeks of flooding.

Rep. Chris Collins said the International Joint Commission's new management plan for the lake is "a disaster." Rep. John Katko said the plan has "wreaked havoc."

The National Wildlife Federation issued a statement in response to the recent discovery of an Asian Carp found just a few miles outside of Lake Michigan.


A new report on the health of the Great Lakes is out this week, and it shows a grim outlook for Lake Erie.


Michigan officials have terminated a contract with a firm analyzing a controversial petroleum pipeline that runs through the Great Lakes, due to an employee's alleged conflict of interest.

The war of words between N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the International Joint Commission is continuing,  as residents along Lake Ontario deal with weeks of flooding.

In a letter to Cuomo, the IJC says flooding was triggered by heavy spring rains. And it rejects his suggestion that preventive counter-measures -- like releasing more water through a downstream dam -- should have been made.

Final part of a series on President Trump's budget

On the shores of the lower Niagara River, about 10 miles from Niagara Falls, a group of biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prepare to examine the largest fish species in the Great Lakes region – the lake sturgeon.


Best Bass lakes include six in NYS

Jun 15, 2017
WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Lake Erie and Chautuaqua Lake are among New York's best lakes for bass fishing. Bassmaster Magazine is out with its list of the top "25 Best Bass Lakes" in the Northeast last year.

Mayors from the Great Lakes region said Thursday that they will continue to fight against climate change -- despite President Trump's withdrawal from an international agreement.

"While the president of the United States has bowed out of the Paris Agreement, we are stepping up as cities to lead the charge against climate change," Niagara Falls (N.Y.) Mayor Paul Dyster said in a statement. He is the new chair of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.

Part 4 in a series on President Trump's budget

Thousands of dams have been built across the Great Lakes region -- but many are old and in danger of collapsing. In Michigan, conservation groups and state agencies are pooling resources to remove or repair dams before it’s too late.

 

Part 3 in a series about President Trump's budget 

A lot of attention has focused on President Trump's proposal to eliminate funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which doles out $300 million a year for various projects. But his "skinny budget" has other cuts -- including the National Sea Grant program -- that would affect the region.


There will be more water flowing out of Lake Ontario in an effort to help ease the recent flooding conditions along the south shore.

The International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board agreed this week to increase the water flowing out of the lake at a greater rate. Secretary for the board, Arun Heer says this will be the highest outflow ever released from the lake on a sustained basis.

Because of that, Heer says officials will closely monitor the situation for a few days to see if there are any major adverse impacts.

Can Asian carp be kept out of Lake Michigan?

Jun 13, 2017

Part 2 in a series about President Trump's budget

President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget plan eliminates a $300 million program to restore the Great Lakes. The plan is sparking concern among environmentalists, because a lot of that money is used to protect the lakes from a voracious fish known as the Asian carp.

The US Army Corps of Engineers predicts that water across the Great Lakes will remain high for the duration of summer, and even into the fall.

The Corps says these high levels are due to above average precipitation on the lakes. Forecasted levels on Superior, Michigan-Huron, and Erie will be the highest since the 1990s.

Lake Ontario levels will also remain high, after setting a record for highest average lake levels for the month of May. 

Communities along Lake Ontario -- ranging from Toronto to tiny Sodus Point, N.Y. -- have seen flooding for weeks.

President Trump's 2018 budget eliminates $300 million from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which has funded wetlands restorations, pollution cleanup and much more.  

This interactive graphic shows how major federal agencies such as the EPA and the Fish and Wildlife Service have spread the money among the eight Great Lakes states.

Part 1 of a series on President Trump's budget 

Long-standing plans to clean up the headwaters of Lake Superior have been thrown into doubt by Trump administration budget priorities. Now, Minnesotans are wondering how to fill a multimillion-dollar hole.


IJC to maintain Lake Ontario levels

Jun 9, 2017

The bi-national organization that regulates shared water between the United States and Canada has decided to maintain outflows from Lake Ontario, which are already near a record high, for at least another week.

Imagine one of the Great Lakes on a sunny day – the water is clear and kids are playing in it.  But the day after a big storm, that same lake can reek of raw sewage.

It’s caused by a combined sewer overflow – a common problem in over 700 cities and towns nationwide.   Some cities are finding a solution underground.

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