Great Lakes Today

Great Lakes dodge federal funding cut -- for now

May 1, 2017

President Trump's budget priorities have put funding for the Great Lakes in danger.

His 2018 budget outline eliminated $300 million in annual funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which has backed hundreds of projects on pollution, invasive species and other topics. For a while, it looked like he might also grab $50 million in initiative funds in the current budget.

But at least the $50 million is safe.


Lake Ontario is 20 inches higher than normal, and New York towns along the south shore are filling sandbags and making other flood preparations.

In Port Bay, the high water has already damaged the town’s protective barrier beach. Now, residents are scrambling for ways to hold back the lake’s waters.


Environmental groups have filed a federal lawsuit, accusing the Environmental Protection Agency of violating the Clean Water Act.

The lawsuit involves a dispute over whether western Lake Erie should be classified as an impaired waterway. 

Study: Warnings about contaminated fish fall short

Apr 25, 2017

It’s important to know that the food you’re eating  is safe—especially when it comes to fish caught in polluted waters.


Alex Crichton

Lake Ontario is nearly a foot and a half higher than is usual for this time of year, and New Yorkers living on the south shore are anxiously watching the water continue to rise.

Near Rochester, the village of Sodus Point is providing sandbags to homeowners.

State of emergency declared along Lake Ontario

Apr 20, 2017

Rising levels on Lake Ontario have prompted officials in counties near Buffalo and Rochester to declare a state of emergency.

Officials said they expect higher than normal water levels over the next few days and into the weekend -- with a possibility of flooding.

In a conference call Thursday afternoon, the Great Lakes Compact Council upheld its decision allowing Waukesha, ​Wisc., to draw water from Lake Michigan.

Representatives for all eight Great Lakes states voted to deny a challenge brought by local officials across the region.

Great Lakes town raises money online to save harbor

Apr 20, 2017

Leland Harbormaster Russell Dzuba is walking down a metal gangway to get a look at the harbor in this northern Michigan town.

Normally, there would be some activity this time of year – but the harbor is empty.

“We’re looking at water that’s about six inches deep right over there,” he says.


Talk of a fictional pipeline that could carry Great Lakes water to the Southwest caused a recent uproar from folks around the lakes. But the NASA scientist who mentioned the idea says Phoenix and other desert cities aren’t coming for the Great Lakes’ water any time soon.

Great Lakes beaches have always been popular for tourists. But in the 1970s and 80s, they were also prime real estate for nuclear power plants because there was lots of water to cool the reactors.

Now there are nine nuclear plants on the U.S. side of the lakes -- but cheaper energy sources are forcing some to shut down. And in one Michigan town, residents are divided about a shutdown.


States surrounding the Great Lakes have a recurring nightmare about proposals to siphon off water for parched areas in U.S. or other countries.

So they might be staggered by suggestions from NASA scientist Jay Famiglietti, who said a water pipeline from the lakes to cities like Phoenix was "part of our future.”  

Pollution and other problems plague areas all over the Great Lakes region. And they can make drinking or swimming dangerous.  There’s plenty of blame to go around for this – city water utilities, agriculture, and politicians to name a few.

Now an unlikely industry has joined the search for solutions -- technology is taking on Lake Erie.


On a tiny beach at Erie Basin Marina in Buffalo, N.Y., Nate Drag scans the sand and driftwood. He's part of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, and he helps organize beach clean ups.
 "The closer you look, you can start seeing the plastic popping out," he says.
 


Lots of people were already upset about President Trump’s plan to slash Great Lakes funding in next year’s federal budget.  Now he’s recommending a $50 million cut to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for this year.  


The International Joint Commission, the bi-national group that helps to oversee the Great Lakes, held two public meetings in Buffalo on Tuesday – and more than 200 people showed up to share their concerns.


U.S. and Canadian commissioners representing the Great Lakes met in Buffalo, N.Y., Tuesday to hear from environmental groups and the public on the region’s progress.

The International Joint Commission's U.S. Chair, Lana Pollack, opened with a message: “What we’re here today to do is to hear from some experts, hear from the public, and thereby advise the governments in both countries as well as local jurisdictions on how lakes can best be protected."

Business sustainability on IJC agenda in Buffalo

Mar 27, 2017

On Tuesday, the International Joint Commission, a group that helps regulate the Great Lakes, is coming to Buffalo to listen to your concerns -- and discuss issues that are important to the Buffalo region.


Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Dan Egan has covered Great Lakes issues for 15 years.  This month, he released his first bookThe Death and Life of the Great Lakes, an in-depth biography of the lakes – from the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway to the current issues with harmful algae blooms and invasive species.


How warm was winter on the Great Lakes? Plenty warm

Mar 24, 2017

A new report sums up the crazy winter that brought unusually warm temperatures to the Great Lakes region -- as well as some brutal Lake Effect snowstorms.

Toronto recorded its highest February temperature -- 66 degrees -- on Feb. 23, according to the Midwestern Regional Climate Center. The following day, more records were set in Syracuse (71), Binghamton, N.Y. (70), and Erie, Pa., (77).

Great Lakes meeting in Buffalo to be live streamed

Mar 23, 2017

Great Lakes Today will host a Facebook Live event for the International Joint Commission's Buffalo public meeting on the health of the lakes.

Two sessions will take place March 28, and both will be streamed live on Facebook.

Wetlands an issue for IJC meeting in Buffalo

Mar 21, 2017

Wetland habitat restoration will be among the issues highlighted at an upcoming public meeting aimed at improving the state of the Great Lakes. The Buffalo meeting on March 28 is one of six being held regionally by the International Joint Commission, the bi-national group that helps regulate the Great Lakes.


John Nicholls/Shutterstock

The Great Lakes shipping season officially kicks off Monday with the opening of the Welland Canal, the shipping channel that connects Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.


The Trump Administration’s proposed budget is out – and it eliminates the $300 million in annual funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), which finances environmental projects all over the region.

The budget also zeroes out the $250 million allotted to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) grants, including 33 Sea Grant programs nationwide. Based at universities, Sea Grant programs focus on educating the public, outreach and research. 

Groups representing mayors, governors, and Great Lakes states are descending on Washington this week to push back against reported budget cuts for environmental programs. 

Tuesday begins three days of speakers and presentations at the Great Lakes Commission’s semi-annual meeting. It also means three days of meetings with Congress and the Trump administration to promote the region’s priorities, including money for infrastructure and an initiative to restore the health of the lakes.

Second of two parts

Unstable ice has been a factor in the deaths of more than 30 people across the northeast and Great Lakes region this winter. One of those tragedies took place last month on Conesus Lake, N.Y. 


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.

Editorials blast Trump's proposed cuts for Great Lakes

Mar 9, 2017

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."

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

An Erie County Legislator and local advocates for Great Lakes cleanup say the Trump Administration's proposed cuts to such efforts would prove harmful not only to the water and wildlife in it but also the local economy.


NYPA

A sure sign that spring is just around the corner can be seen on the waters off of Buffalo. Crews from the New York Power Authority started the process of removing the nearly 1.66 mile long Lake Erie - Niagara River Ice Boom on Monday.

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.


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