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

A little house on the shore of Lake Ontario is gaining national attention.

After being pummeled with water, cold air and high winds, portions of the house that face the lake are  covered in thick layers of ice.

Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department

Snowmobiling is a popular sport on New Hampshire’s Lake Potanipo. Riders like the wide open spaces. It isn’t unusual to see them set up makeshift roads and racetracks and zoom around the ice.

A budget proposal to slash federal funds for the Great Lakes cleanup is being skewered in the opinion pages of the region's newspapers.

In Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota and other Great Lakes states, editorials have called the draft proposal "foolish," "unacceptable" and a "job-killer."

The Trump Administration could be proposing a 97 percent cut in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding when it unveils the federal budget later this month -- a move that is drawing harsh criticism from some regional officials.  The initiative is one of many Environmental Protection Agency programs in jeopardy.


A new book by Michigan poet Cindy Hunter Morgan breathes life into shipwrecks that dot the floor of the Great Lakes.

"Harborless" is her re-imagining of tragic moments when the Philadelphia, Chicora and other ships were lost. 

President Donald Trump took aim Tuesday at a rule that outlines the reach of the Clean Water Act, saying the rule was a "massive power grab" by federal regulators. But six attorneys general vowed to fight the rollback -- with lawsuits if necessary.

 

When the bars and restaurants in Put-in-Bay close at the end of summer, you might think the entire island shuts down. But a couple hundred hardy year-round islanders in Western Lake Erie stay put.  As winter sets in, eventually even the ferries shut down and the only way on and off is by plane.

Residents in the Great Lakes region will get a chance to voice their concerns about the waters' health in a series of March meetings. The International Joint Commission, which helps regulate use of the Great Lakes, has announced dates and other details of meetings scheduled in Buffalo and five other cities.


Its 20 degrees on a frigid Saturday afternoon. Jennifer Nalbone is standing outside a small Western New York airport waiting for her father Lou.


Add this to the unexpected news coming out of the Great Lakes region: a huge fireball tearing across the midwest skies early Monday, headed for Lake Michigan.

Remarkable video from several sources, including a police dashboard camera, shows a blue-green fireball searing the night sky.

Residents near an abandoned military base in Michigan are worried about an unseen invader: toxic chemicals that have contaminated wells in the town of Oscoda. Now the chemicals are spreading farther -- and have even reached Lake Huron.


Areas along the Great Lakes are bracing for big lake effect snows this weekend -- and there probably will be more this winter.

The reason: Water temperatures on all five lakes are higher than normal, so little ice has formed.

A leaked list of infrastructure priorities for the Trump administration includes bridges and other big projects for the Great Lakes region.

It’s unclear whether the list is a draft or final version. But it’s sparking excitement about rebuilding the region.

The cost of the 50 projects is more than $130 billion, with half coming from private investment.

Veronica Volk

Jon Gee of Environment and Climate Change Canada stands on a platform overlooking a part of the Hamilton, Ontario, harbor called Randle Reef. It's one of the most polluted sites on Canada’s side of the Great Lakes. 
 


A Wisconsin town is getting a lot of attention these days -- on the issue of drinking water.

 

Waukesha lies outside the Great Lakes basin, but it has received permission to take water from Lake Michigan. Officials are still debating the impact of the precedent-setting decision – and a group of mayors is challenging the town’s action.

 

Meanwhile, Waukesha is moving full speed ahead.  


Just minutes after President Donald J. Trump took the oath of office Friday morning, changes began to take place -- starting with the government's website. The page dedicated to climate change was one of many revisions on whitehouse.gov.

This week marks the start of a break in the Great Lakes shipping season.  A time when lakes freeze over, the locks at Sault St. Marie shut down, and crews on big freighters go home to their families.  

But not everyone stops working.

 

Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources is feeling the heat of public backlash for its stance on climate change.

Facts and information concerning climate change were deleted recently from the agency's website. Words like "climate change" and any references to greenhouse gases or human contributors also vanished.


Most shipping on the Great Lakes comes to a close with the Soo Locks shutdown on Sunday.  It’s the end of a rough year for cargo companies.

According to the Lake Carriers Association, Great Lakes freighters transported over 83 million tons of cargo in 2016. That was a 4.5 percent decline compared to 2015.

The association’s Glen Nekvasil says shipments rose in only one category.  “Iron ore was the one cargo that increased. It was up about 8 percent, and our grain cargoes were down almost 30 percent.”

For the first time in over 50 years, the U.S. and Canada are changing the way they regulate water levels on Lake Ontario. It’s an attempt to meet the changing needs of people who use the lake – from the shipping industry to environmentalists.

But homeowners fear the change may mean more flooding.


The U.S. government is seeking public comment on plans to protect historic shipwrecks by creating a new national marine sanctuary in Lake Michigan.

On Monday, Jan. 9, NOAA began taking comments on its plan to protect 1,075 square miles of the lake. 

Helen Domske is the senior coastal education specialist for New York Sea Grant and associate director of the University at Buffalo's Great Lakes Program. She's also an avid scuba diver, so we asked her about diving in the Great Lakes.

Great Lakes pollutant lurks in your laundry pile

Jan 3, 2017

The United States and Canada are moving to ban microbeads -- the tiny plastic bits in toothpaste and facewash that are big water polluters. Now scientists are focusing on a similar problem -- and it’s lurking in your laundry pile.

  

In just a few weeks, we’ll have a new presidential administration – and that could mean big changes for the Great Lakes.

Environmental groups are waiting to see how Donald Trump's administration handles issues that are crucial to the region.

Alliance for the Great Lakes

A new study from Rochester Institute of Technology tracks how much plastic is getting into the Great Lakes, and where it's going. Spoiler alert: It's a lot -- and it's in all five lakes. 


Environmentalists in Canada are taking a close look at water quality, and a new study by the Lake Ontario Waterkeeper highlights some serious problems.

Across the Great Lakes, 2016 brought a lot of conflict, with battles over water diversion, petroleum pipelines and other issues.  


It’s 6 A.M. when trucks and SUVS begin pulling into an empty parking lot in Girard, Pennsylvania, a town outside of Erie with about 3,000 people. The vehicles bear license plates from Ohio, Pennsylvania and Delaware.


A graduate student is catching attention on social media for some spreading some fish-themed holiday cheer.

Katherine O'Reilly recently came up with a way to share her love of marine life -- and puns -- on Twitter by creating the hashtag #25DaysofFishmas.

NEW YORK POWER AUTHORITY PHOTO /Ice boom installation 2015.

After several days of tough winter weather, crews finished up the installation of the Lake Erie/Niagara River Ice Boom Thursday.

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