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 in part by a grant from The Joy Family Foundation.

Ways to Connect

For years, the Sea Grant program has helped Americans learn about the oceans, the Great Lakes and other waters. Now President Trump wants to stop funding it – and some teachers fear the program will disappear.


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."

Watch Live Here: IJC Public Meeting Buffalo Evening Session

Mar 28, 2017
Eileen Koteras Elibol / WBFO NEWS

Live Stream: Great Lakes Public Meeting afternoon session

Mar 28, 2017
by Angelica A. Morrison / Great Lakes Today

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.


"Lake Effect" can bring trouble, but some companies embrace name

Mar 17, 2017
by ANGELICA A. MORRISON / Lake Effect man on the handle of a beer tap at the Pearl Street Grill and Brewery in Buffalo New York.

Residents in the Great Lakes region are very familiar with Lake Effect snows. When cold, dry air passes over the lakes, it generates enough snow to bring white outs, vehicle pile ups, power outages and back-breaking shoveling. Despite all those problems, dozens of businesses and organizations have embraced the Lake Effect name.


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.

Unstable ice leads to a deadly winter

Mar 13, 2017
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.

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."

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.


Poet gives new life to Great Lakes shipwrecks

Mar 2, 2017

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. 

Trump attack on clean water rule sparks legal fight

Feb 28, 2017

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.

Public meetings in Buffalo, other cities target Great Lakes

Feb 22, 2017

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.


Video: Meteor fireball heads for Lake Michigan

Feb 6, 2017

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.


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