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community weblog - [ Environment ]

Shoreline project may get $2.5 million

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An effort to preserve a coveted stretch of Lake Michigan duneland in Saugatuck is set to receive a major boost from $2.5 million in federal funds set aside for the project in a pending appropriations bill.

The announcement Tuesday by U.S. Rep Pete Hoekstra, R-Holland, that the conservation grant sought by the city of Saugatuck had made its way through House-Senate conferences and into the final bill was greeted with joy by those working to buy the 413-acre Denison property.  more...

 



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Water growing scarce, report says

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TORONTO -- Even in a country as rich in water resources as Canada, there are growing signs of water scarcity, according to a new report from Statistics Canada, one that says some of the country's main glaciers have shrunk to close to their smallest size in 10,000 years and that water levels in the St. Lawrence River are dropping.

The report also said Canadians are among the most profligate water users in the world, with an average annual use of 1,471 tonnes, when the total supplied to residents and industries is considered. This ranks second only behind the United States and means the typical Canadian uses two to four times as much as people living in European countries .   more...

 



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Grants awarded for protection of local waters

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The state awarded more than $680,000 this week to six groups to protect Lake Erie and the Chagrin, Cuyahoga and Grand rivers.

Recipients of money:

Munson Township, $120,000 to buy 76 acres of riverbank and wetland along the Chagrin River's upper main branch.

Russell Township Park Commission, $250,000 to buy 118 acres to protect a tributary of the Chagrin River.

Lake Metroparks, $68,720 to buy 12.4 acres of forested flood plain and hillside buffering the north bank of the Grand River.

Cleveland Metroparks, $89,500 to buy five easements totaling 17.4 acres in Brooklyn Heights along the west bank of the Cuyahoga River in the Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation.   more...

 



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Stryker Bay plan moves ahead

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A hybrid plan to clean up the Stryker Bay Superfund site in West Duluth gained preliminary approval Tuesday from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency citizens board.

The plan calls for dredging some of the contaminated industrial sediment and capping some to keep it from moving into the bay or adjacent St. Louis River.

It's considered a compromise between environmentalists who wanted all of the contaminated materials removed, then incinerated, and others, including industries deemed responsible for the pollution, which wanted to simply add more dirt to keep it from spreading.  more...

 



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$100,000 is pledged to dredging

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ERIE - Erie Township officials last week pledged the first $100,000 of what they hope will ultimately be a $1 million project to deepen some of the inland waterways along the Ottawa River and rescue local marina operators.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers already has scheduled a $3.6 million dredging project for the Ohio portions of the Ottawa River for the latter half of 2005.

The project hopes to create an 80-foot-wide channel 60 inches deep from the Summit Street Bridge to the Maumee River Shipping Channel. It’s being paid for, in part, with $600,000 from the City of Toledo.   more...



 



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Preserving our wetlands

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Protecting wetlands in Macomb County is a job that lies in the hands of one man.

Mark Richardson, the county's environmental prosecutor, has spent the past 4 1/2 years dogging developers who illegally bulldoze wetlands to make way for homes or condominiums.

Richardson, who works for Prosecutor Carl Marlinga, has eight cases pending with alleged violations of the state's wetlands law. He has developed a reputation as an aggressive - some say overzealous - enforcer of environmental laws. But he offers no excuses for his defense of the waterways and wetlands.  more...

 



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Ferry bad place

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- People in this beleaguered city on the south shore of Lake Ontario are pretty excited about a new Toronto-Rochester car ferry promised for May. For their part, people in Toronto have barely noticed. That's all to the good because there are several important reasons why Torontonians wouldn't ever want to come here.

Take Rochester's homicide rate, at triple the U.S. average. The car-theft rate is 2.6 times the U.S. average. Robbery is nearly triple the national rate. Then there's the culinary treasure known -- this is true -- as the Garbage Plate.   more...

 



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Blackout led to sewage spills

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WYANDOTTE -- More than 100 million gallons of raw sewage and other contaminated waste was discharged into Metro Detroit rivers and lakes when the widespread Aug. 14 electrical blackout knocked out backup power at sewage cleanup plants, according to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

"Because of the catastrophic failure, we are looking into what else -- if anything -- needs to be done in terms of (back-up) power" sources, said Phil Argiroff, acting district supervisor for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

The spills included releases from two paper mills in the Port Huron area, upstream from several municipal drinking water plants along the St. Clair River.   more...



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Water bottling decision brings issue to a head

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Like many Mecosta County residents, Toby and Mindy Smith go back and forth on the merits of the community's Ice Mountain bottled-water plant after a judge ordered its owners to stop pumping water from local spring-fed wells.

"It'd be a sickening situation to see a quarter-mile square building like that close down," said Toby Smith, as he surveyed the sprawling blue, gray and white plant from the parking lot of the Mecosta-Austin Township Fire Department.

"It would be sad to see it go to waste, but I'd rather have our water," said his wife, Mindy.

Among some locals, buying bottled water is "kind of taboo," she said. They boast they never have -- and never will -- buy water in a bottle.  more...

 



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From Lake Superior to a caviar spoon

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Right now, the herring roe capital of Minnesota is Grand Marais, where a new processing operation was started this fall at the Dockside Fish Market. Marty Borak hauls in raw roe to be weighed.  Another Thanksgiving has passed, another December has arrived, which means, of course, another Lake Superior caviar season is coming to a close in Minnesota.

Don't know what we're talking about? Didn't know that in the last couple of months, tons of eggs got pulled out of fish that got pulled out of the big Gitchee Gumee?

Millions, heck, billions of eggs — roe from lake herring, or Coregonus artedii, to be precise — just got harvested and processed on the shores of the Minnesota side of the Shining Big Sea Water.

Another Thanksgiving has passed, another December has arrived, which means, of course, another Lake Superior caviar season is coming to a close in Minnesota.

Don't know what we're talking about? Didn't know that in the last couple of months, tons of eggs got pulled out of fish that got pulled out of the big Gitchee Gumee?

Millions, heck, billions of eggs — roe from lake herring, or Coregonus artedii, to be precise — just got harvested and processed on the shores of the Minnesota side of the Shining Big Sea Water.   more...

 

 



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Low water levels crimp ship canal

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STURGEON BAY — A shipping canal that cuts 100 miles off the route between Chicago and Green Bay is filling in with silt, prompting some ships to avoid it completely.

And the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has no plans to do anything about it.

The Sturgeon Bay and Lake Michigan Ship Canal slices through the Door County peninsula, providing a vital shortcut to the ports of Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay and Marinette.

But the canal constantly fills up with sand, dirt and silt. It requires dredging every 10 to 15 years. The last dredging was in 1994, according to the U.S. Army Corps.

Recent low lake levels may have speeded up the silting process, resulting in a very shallow entrance, about 17 feet deep, at the mouth of the canal. Local officials say dredging is needed soon, or the clogging could create financial burdens for ships trying to enter the waters of Green Bay. That could pose problems for the local shipping economy.   more...

 



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The big exception: Chicago

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Plainfield, Ill. - Fast-growing and at the outer limits of Chicago's suburban sprawl, Plainfield faced a dwindling and contaminated groundwater supply until it got something that many Milwaukee suburbs cannot get.

Access to Lake Michigan water.

Plainfield is 35 miles from the lake. If it were in Wisconsin, it would be almost as far away as Whitewater.

It certainly is farther from the lake than Milwaukee suburbs such as Waukesha, New Berlin and Pewaukee, which have the same problems. As in Plainfield, groundwater there is tainted with radium, and demand for water is outstripping supply.  more...

 



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Beach bacteria study points to river, ditch

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While cautioning they are a long way from cracking the mysterious bacteria problem that has plagued the Lake Erie beach at Maumee Bay State Park, researchers say a new study has led them to identify two streams as major pathways.

One is a ditch that flows through the center of the park. The other is the Maumee River, with a particular focus on its shipping channel.

"We’re going to concentrate on these hot spots," said Donna Francy, a U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist from Columbus who’s one of the lead researchers.  more...


 



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More money for Asian carp barrier in Romeoville

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WASHINGTON — The Army Corps of Engineers will receive $1.45 million to continue the fight to prevent the Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes, U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert said.

  The funding was included in the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill that passed both the House and Senate last week.

  The corps will receive $500,000 to continue operating a temporary electric barrier designed to prevent Asian carp from swimming into Lake Michigan. The corps will receive an additional $200,000 for upgrades and design work that will turn the existing barrier into a permanent one.   more...

 



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New fishing report offers 'invaluable' information on lakes

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The business of sportfishing on Lake Michigan is on the upswing, so concludes a new report.

The data also shows it is a difficult way to make a living.

The report, called "Michigan's Great Lakes Charter Fishing Industry 2002," was a joint effort of the Michigan Sea Grant College and the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network. The groups last studied the industry in 1994.

Mark Veurink, captain of a Grand Haven-based charter boat and president of the local Chinook Pier Sportfishing Association, said most captains struggle financially and have second businesses or jobs to get them by.   more...

 



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