Great Lakes Today

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.


A new non-native species has been found in western Lake Erie, the EPA said Monday.

It's named Brachionus leydigii. And it's a type of zooplankton, which means it could be food for lots of fish.

This spring's heavy rain in the Lake Ontario region had quite an impact on homeowners, but it also affected the water offshore. The rainfall overwhelmed sewage systems in cities around the lake, and pushed tens of millions of gallons of raw sewage into the water.


The EPA has released its annual report highlighting work under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative -- and environmentalists might be surprised by the high praise from Scott Pruitt.

In a statement accompanying the report, Pruitt, who leads the EPA, said the initiative "is protecting public health in the Great Lakes more than any other coordinated interagency effort in U.S. history."

In a long-awaited report, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says new measures are needed to prevent Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes.

The report says the current defense at the Brandon Road lock in Illinois – an underwater electric barrier – should be beefed up. The Army Corps' recommended plan would add water jets and complex noises – like the underwater recordings of a boat motor. 


More than 150 years ago, the Great Lakes region played a key role in the Underground Railroad. Runaway slaves made their way to cities along the lakes and crossed the border to freedom in Canada. Fast forward to today, when thousands of asylum seekers are passing up a chance to live in the U-S – and are heading north too.


Updated Wednesday, Aug. 3

The recent black, odorous wastewater discharge near the base of Niagara Falls violated New York regulations, a state official says. But it's unclear whether any fines will result.


The first woman to lead the Coast Guard district that covers the Great Lakes is retiring Wednesday. 

In the two years Rear Admiral June Ryan has been Commander of the 9th District, the winters have been mild.  And there hasn’t really been a need for ice-breaking – what she calls the Coast Guard Great Lakes' greatest challenge.


Two replica Christopher Columbus ships are sailing across the Great Lakes this summer, offering visitors a chance to learn about the famous explorer's voyages. But some say the ships only tell half of a story.


An Asian Carp was caught recently in a place where it shouldn’t be – beyond an electric barrier meant to keep the species out of Lake Michigan and the rest of the Great Lakes. Researchers at Southern Illinois University are trying to figure out just how it got there.


Seventy-five years ago, the SPARS were created to take the job of thousands of Coast Guardsmen who had to leave their posts to fight in World War II. 

Mabel Johnson was one of them – she enlisted in 1943 and was first sent to Cleveland.  The 102-year old returned Thursday for a visit.


As scientists watch for the spread of toxic algae blooms in western Lake Erie and other hotspots around the Great Lakes, it's important to remember the dangers for pets.

There’s more than just fish and sand in the Great Lakes.   According to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Michigan, there are over 6,000 shipwrecks in the lakes – and an estimated 30,000 lives lost.


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.


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.

  

"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. 


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.

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.


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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