Great Lakes

The Great Lakes basin is home to the largest freshwater system on the Earth's surface, and the lakes provide 21 percent of the world's fresh water. In northern Michigan, the lakes are key to our way of life, both today and spanning back to the region's first inhabitants. 

U.S. Coast Guard

Michigan’s attorney general is suing an Escanaba-based shipping company that he claims is responsible for a mineral oil leak in the Straits of Mackinac earlier this month.

Aaron Selbig

CORRECTION 4/13: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the U.S. Coast Guard said damage to an electric transmission line under the Straits of Mackinac may have been caused by an "anchor strike." The Coast Guard says the leak may have been caused by "damage from vessel activity."

Governor Rick Snyder is asking Enbridge Energy to accelerate it’s decommissioning of the Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.

Aaron Selbig

The U.S. Coast Guard has organized a command post in Mackinaw City to respond to a mineral oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac. Around 600 gallons of fluid leaked from underwater electrical lines west of the Mackinac Bridge earlier this week. 

 


At least 400 gallons of mineral oil have leaked into the Straits of Mackinac.

American Transmission Company operates power lines that deliver electricity between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. The company called the U.S. Coast Guard on Monday night to inform them of a leak of dielectric fluid, which is used to insulate the electrical lines under the Straits.  

When you think about greenhouse gasses that are driving our warming climate, maybe you think about power plants or your car. But lakes can release greenhouse gasses, too, and the amount of nutrients that get into lakes from farms and cities matters.

Michigan Sea Grant

A Great Lakes group wants paddlers to help in the fight against invasive species. 

Michigan Sea Grant – a group run by the University of Michigan and Michigan State University – is starting a program to teach kayakers and canoers to report aquatic invasive species found along waterways.   

NASA

As Great Lakes advocates lobby Congress this week, a new report details how the federal government and states plan to fight algae blooms in Lake Erie.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s plan targets phosphorus, the main cause of the blooms.  It summarizes agendas from Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Canadians offer plan to battle harmful algae blooms

Feb 28, 2018

Canada and the province of Ontario recently released their plan to combat toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie.  Phosphorus is the primary cause of the blooms that turn parts of the lake green most summers.

The U.S. and Canada hope to reduce phosphorus in Lake Erie by 40 percent, from 2008 levels.  It’s all part of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

Under that agreement, Canada and the U.S. must develop plans for reducing phosphorus by 2025.  The United States plan – which will summarize five state plans -- is set to be released later this week.

Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world, is awe-inspiring on many levels. But it’s also challenged. Though it seems pristine, a couple centuries of exploitation have taken their toll.

A new book Sustaining Lake Superior: An Extraordinary Lake in a Changing Worldpublished by Yale University Press, traces the history of the lake and some of the indignities it's suffered at the hands of humans.

Let's talk about water.

That's the invitation from the Michigan Humanities Council to communities and organizations around the state. The council is accepting applications for groups to host Third Coast Conversations: Dialogues about Water in Michigan.

Coalition hopes Congress will save Great Lakes funding

Feb 16, 2018
Elizabeth Miller/ideastream

Healing Our Waters, a coalition of environmental groups involved in protecting the Great Lakes, says President Trump’s 2019 budget and infrastructure plan are both “dead on arrival”.

About 100 members of the coalition will travel to Washington, D.C., next month to meet with senators and representatives from the region. They'll present some recommendations for a national infrastructure plan.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

On Tuesday, The Watershed Center said Grand Traverse Bay was officially frozen. The official designation happens after West Bay is frozen from Traverse City to Power Island for more than 24 hours. Even though that's only a fraction of the bay, that's been the official measurement for over a hundred years.

Heather Smith, Grand Traverse Baykeeper at The Watershed Center, says the bay didn’t freeze over the last two winters – not since 2015. She says, since 1990, it has only frozen between 20 to 30 percent of the time.

Trump again seeks to slash Great Lakes funding

Feb 13, 2018

President Trump’s 2019 budget outline has been released and Great Lakes funding would be cut substantially.

Released Monday, the budget outline reduces Great Lakes funding by 90 percent – to just $30 million.  The money is used for projects like cleaning up pollution, protecting wildlife and rebuilding wetlands.

Last year, Trump zeroed out Great Lakes restoration funding in his proposed budget -- but Republicans and Democrats in Congress came together to restore the money.

Insecticides widely used on farms, lawns and gardens — known as neonicotinoids — are showing up in rivers across the Great Lakes region.

Piping plovers are little white and gray shorebirds. You might’ve seen them running around on the beach.

Sarah Saunders is a post-doctoral researcher at Michigan State University.

“The majority of the piping plovers in the Great Lakes region nest at Sleeping Bear Dunes,” she says. “The chicks look like little fluffy cotton balls on toothpicks because their legs are really long and they’re very cute. And they make a very high pitched piping noise.”

 


 

He’s been widely praised for his paintings about natural history and ecological history.

 

Now, New York artist Alexis Rockman has turned to Michigan’s treasure — the Great Lakes.

 

His new show, "Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle," opens at the Grand Rapids Art Museum on Jan. 27.

U.S Army Corps of Engineers

State officials say they’ve reached a milestone in the effort to clean up the St. Mary’s River near Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. 

The state Office of the Great Lakes announced Wednesday that it’s lifting dredging restrictions for the river. 

More than three centuries of thriving marine commerce and those notorious storms in the Great Lakes have given Michigan a wealth of historic shipwrecks. There are nearly a thousand on the bottomlands of the state's 13 designated underwater preserves alone. But Michigan's mostly volunteer system of protecting the shipwrecks is showing signs of trouble. 

Our rivers and streams are getting saltier

Jan 11, 2018

There’s too much salt getting into our rivers and streams.

A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds over the past 50 years, freshwater systems across the country have become saltier, and that can cause problems for people, wildlife and our infrastructure.

David Cassleman

The Great Lakes iron ore trade had its best year since 2012. 

Freighters transported more than 60 million tons of iron ore from Great Lakes ports in 2017. That’s an increase of 10 percent compared to 2016, according to data released by the Lake Carriers’ Association on Wednesday. 

There are about 32,000 islands in the Great Lakes. Most are uninhabited. But for those who live year-round on about 30 of them, it can be an isolating experience. Now, Great Lakes islanders are getting together to tackle some of the problems they have in common.

Members of a pipeline advisory board are criticizing a deal Governor Snyder struck with the energy company, Enbridge. They are calling for the line to be temporarily shut down.
 

 


If you eat wild caught fish from Michigan, you might know about fish consumption advisories. They’re recommended limits on safe amounts of fish to eat, and they're necessary because toxic chemicals build up in fish in the Great Lakes and inland lakes and streams.

The oil pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac will be shut down during bad storms. That’s just one of the agreements reached in a deal announced last week by the state of Michigan and the Canadian oil transport company Enbridge.

Caitlin Whyte

As winter nears, Lake Ontario is still much higher than normal. And residents are shoring up walls of sandbags for protection against high waves.

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