Sunday, December 11, 2016

Altering Michigan Wetlands

Selections from “A Property Owner’s Guide to Wetland Protection in Michigan”

MSU Extension

“Most people are familiar with the cattail or lily pad wetlands found in areas of standing water, but wetlands can also look like grassy meadows, shrubby fields, or mature forests in areas that are wet enough to alter the soils and plants that are present.”

“A permit from the [Michigan Department of Environmental Quality - MDEQ] is required … to authorize construction activities including filling, dredging, draining, and construction or operation of a use or development in a wetland.”

“If a permitted activity results in the significant loss of wetlands, your permit may require
mitigation, that is, the replacement of the lost wetland area and its public benefits through restoration, creation, or in some instance preservation of other wetlands.”

Monday, October 17, 2016

Oakland Justifies Lake St. Clair Pollution

For years, local authorities have treated combined sewer overflows (CSOs) with chlorine to kill bacteria in preparation for diverting the overflow following heavy rains away from wastewater treatment plants and into natural water bodies.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been urging state and local officials to convert combined sewer systems into separate sanitary and stormwater sewer systems.


“Oakland County dumped 2 billion gallons of sewage into Macomb in August storm”“Several hours after the Aug. 11 [2014] storm, the polluted Red Run Drain in Warren was still about 20 feet above its normal level.”
http://www.macombdaily.com/article/MD/20140826/NEWS/140829703

Thereafter, pathogens, toxins and nutrients originating in household wastewater would go to a wastewater treatment plant for removal while the heavy volume of rainwater would flow separately, directly into lakes and streams. Cities like Lansing and Grand Rapids have undertaken such conversions.
 
Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash justifies not planning for separate stormwater and sanitary sewage systems by arguing that separated stormwater runoff is not treated, so whatever pollutants it carries off streets, parking lots and roofs ends up in lakes and streams.

Presently, Nash sends combined storm and sanitary effluent from the giant Kuhn Retention Basin in Madison Heights to a wastewater treatment plant in Detroit.

If heavy rainfall threatens to overwhelm the treatment plant, Nash partially treats the combined fluids with chlorine to control pathogens such as bacteria and sends the deluge into Red Run, through Macomb County to the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair.

But the sanitary sewage component contains the nutrients like phosphorus that are found in human waste. Those nutrients generate algal blooms, some with toxic potential, that contribute to the degradation of Lake St. Clair.

In other words, Nash seems content to pass on to Lake St. Clair the pollutants in the waste of hundreds of thousands of people rather than the separated stormwater running off roofs and pavements.

Go figure.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Corps of Engineers Relents, Will Dredge Cleveland Ship Channel

James F. McCarty reports in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on October 3, 2016:
CLEVELAND, Ohio – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced late Monday that it would dredge the upper reaches of the Cuyahoga River shipping channel where sediment has been piling up, forcing cargo ships to "light load" during deliveries to the ArcelorMittal steel mill.
The Army Corps ended its year-long refusal to dredge on the condition that, if the agency prevails in a federal court lawsuit, Ohio would reimburse the Corps for the additional costs required to dump the sediment into Dike 10, a confined disposal facility on the Lake Erie shoreline near Burke Lakefront Airport.
The Army Corps has maintained the sediment is nontoxic and safe enough for open lake disposal. But the Ohio EPA disagreed and blocked that action, maintaining that the sediment is too polluted with PCBs.
http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2016/10/us_army_corps_of_engineers_agr.html 

ArcelorMittal Steel - Cleveland

OCTOBER 16, 2016 UPDATE: Following court proceedings, the Corp of Engineers has awarded a $3.7 million contract to dredge the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland. It is anticipated that dredging will start soon.

http://www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2016/10/13/army-corps-awards-contract-cuyahoga-dredging-to-begin-soon


Monday, October 3, 2016

Improve Lake St. Clair by Removing Floodplain Sediments

Michigan and Ontario residents alarmed about pollution in Lake St. Clair shouldn’t limit their concern to combined sewer overflows. More could be done to improve water quality upstream in the small ditches and creeks that contribute algae-fueling nutrients to rivers like the Clinton and Thames leading to the lake.

Big Spring Run - lancasteronline.com

Good results are being realized in the Chesapeake Bay watershed from the restoration of floodplains and wetlands far upstream by removing legacy sediment deposits loaded with nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen.

One example is a project in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania which was completed five years ago. Sediment deposits from careless land use practices in the past were removed from 12 acres of bottom land. Four and a half acres of aquatic habitat were restored and reconnected to the watershed, as well.

Sediment removed is said to have been 22,000 tons, including 25 tons of phosphorus and 30 tons of nitrogen.

“Chief among the latest findings is research showing dramatic reductions in surface water temperatures and nitrogen, the re-establishment of threatened species of plants, colonization by the green frog and a 50 percent reduction in sediment leaving the restored ecosystem.”

http://www.lancasterfarming.com/news/main_edition/chesapeake-bay-commission-tours-legacy-sediment-experiment/article_2f7d4768-cb08-5562-a70c-01548db8e8e5.html

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Dogs Sniff Out and Back Track Sewage

Lake and beach pollution from human waste in and around Lake St. Clair has led to a lot of finger pointing, but too few solid conclusions as to sources. Are the sources faulty septic tanks, leaky municipal sewage pipes or overflowing retention-treatment basins?



Environmental Canine Services LLC uses dogs to sniff out human waste. The service reports completing 50 projects in 12 states, including 23 in Michigan. The idea was first studied and verified in Santa Barbara, CA six years ago.

Back-tracking human waste in this manner is faster and less expensive than unassisted sampling  and lab testing. Moving upstream, the dogs choose which fork to follow at the confluence of sewers, streams and ditches, leading more quickly to the source of pollution. Simultaneously, samples can be taken at each turn for later confirmation in the lab.

The time is long past due to apply rational process on this subject in place of political wrangling around Lake St. Clair, especially in the Clinton River watershed.

http://www.ecsk9s.com/projects--media---research.html

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Stormwater Runoff Fees Omitted on 20,000 Detroit Properties

Over 20,000 parcels that contribute stormwater runoff but aren’t being charged will be added to DWSD’s billing system this October.

***  SUMMARY  ***

Every year, billions of gallons of contaminated stormwater runoff and snowmelt pour off roofs, sidewalks, parking lots and other impervious surfaces into Detroit’s combined sewer system, then perhaps to a retention-treatment basin (RTB) and eventually to the wastewater treatment plant. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD), Detroit’s retail water agency for the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA), says this runoff costs more than $125 million annually.
Federal and state regulators required DWSD to spend more than $1 billion in combined sewer overflow storage facilities (RTBs) to reduce polluted overflows into natural waterways like the Detroit River. The drainage charge to property owners offsets this investment and the drainage treatment costs.
Most DWSD customers have been paying for drainage as part of their water and sewer bills. The City Assessor’s Office and DWSD are working to ensure that all parcels are billed for their share of drainage costs.
DWSD intends to begin a green infrastructure credit program in October. Customers who reduce runoff can earn credits to be applied to their bill. Fair, accurate billing and green infrastructure practices will benefit the city and its residents.
DWSD provides a  Parcel Viewer  on which to search for parcel information by address. Impervious surface area is used to calculate drainage charges. DWSD says it has data from the City Assessor's Office and flyover images to determine impervious surfaces. Property owners who disagree with the data can complete a drainage survey form.
Over 20,000 parcels that contribute stormwater runoff but aren’t being charged will be added to DWSD’s billing system this October. Customers who need to update parcel information or ask questions should contact DWSD.  A Customer Steering Committee meeting has been scheduled for July 14, 2016.
http://www.detroitmi.gov/drainage

Monday, July 18, 2016

Spectrophotometrics, Water Pollution & Citizen-Scientists

Imagine that seven or eight times a day, different volunteer citizen-scientists around Rochester, MI sampled the waters of Paint Creek, a tributary of the Clinton River, for contaminants.

Or 15 times a day in the Minnow Pond Drain at Farmington Hills, leading to River Rouge.

Or twice a day at the Huron Swamp in White Lake Township, headwaters of the Huron River.

Suppose they used spectrophotometrics available through their smartphones to instantly transmit their findings to a repository set up to collect and collate such data throughout the region.  

Paint Creek
  

This may be feasible by means of citizen-scientists equipped with smartphones adapted as spectrophotometers, a process created by Dr. Andrew Torelli and his colleagues at Bowling Green State University. Torelli explains (excerpts):

We have been developing simple tools to facilitate education and participation in environmental stewardship initiatives by students and members of the broader public.


Throughout the world, there is growing interest for engaging students and members of the public to participate in environmental water quality testing, however there are challenges in providing non-experts with the means to collect, share and interpret reliable scientific data.

...[W]e have developed software and device technologies that allow users to perform spectrophotometric measurements with color-based water quality test kits using their smartphones 7.

Geo-tagged data collected in the field can be easily shared …

You can read more about this on the website for our project we call GeoGraph.

http://personal.bgsu.edu/~torelli/research.html

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Water Pollution Reduction Credits

The type of non-point source water pollution reduction project described below may be useful in the Saginaw River watershed, the Black River watershed (upstream of Port Huron and the St. Clair River) and smaller tributaries to Lake St. Clair, such as the Clinton River, Thames River and Belle River.


The Great Lakes Commission* has announced plans to implement water quality trading as a means of reducing the phosphorus overload in western Lake Erie. The principals are the states of Ohio, Indiana and Michigan and the Province of Ontario. Agricultural, environmental and business interests are participating, as well.

The plan targets farms, these days the greatest source by far of waterborne phosphorus. The concept is to permit those most successful in reducing phosphorus running off their fields to sell credits to those less successful, creating competition to be sellers of credits, rather than buyers. Presumably, sanctions more costly than the credits will be imposed on the worst polluters.

Planners hope for field trials next year. (This observer’s view: Don’t hold your breath.)

Called the “Erie P Market,” the project depends on being able to measure reductions in nutrient pollution. Trading would be limited to a portion of such reductions. Funding for the project is being provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“The two-year project also aims to develop a common approach for who can trade with whom, and how, where and when trading can occur, as well as examine ways to verify that conservation practices are working to improve water quality.”

____________

* “The Great Lakes Commission is a United States interstate agency established in 1955 through the Great Lakes Compact, in order to ‘promote the orderly, integrated and comprehensive development, use and conservation of the water resources of the Great Lakes Basin,’ which includes the Saint Lawrence River. The commission provides policy development, coordination, and advocacy on issues of regional concern, as well as communication and research services.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Lakes_Commission



Saturday, July 9, 2016

Artificial Fish Habitat in Industrialized River Segment

Where natural fish habitat has been lost in an industrialized portion of a river, like River Rouge in Detroit or the Maumee in Toledo, some remarkable innovations now enable fish to shelter and feed while moving between natural habitat upriver and downstream.

One of new designs - artificial fish habitat

Four prototypes that attract fish in various stages of development are being tested. The devices are durable, cost efficient and function within changing water levels. One person can manage them. Nearly 500 devices have been installed thus far. Initial trials have been positive.

Two organizations, Cuyahoga River Restoration and Environmental Design Group, are behind the project.

Jane Goodman, Executive Director of Cuyahoga River Restoration said, "The designs are meant to collect floating organic debris to provide shade, food, and refuge from predators for small fish, but can also mimic natural habitat features like root filaments and aquatic plants to provide safe haven in a challenging environment.”

" ‘Adding to the normal designer angst of correct calculations, appropriate safety factors and the expectation this unusual concept would work, we were asked to design something totally unique that had no close model for success or failure,’ mentioned Matt Montecalvo, Principal of Environmental Services at Environmental Design Group.”

(The “watch the video” link shows 21 seconds of little fish within one of the devices.)

http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Cuyahoga-River-Restoration-Restores-Fish-Habitat-Along-Ship-Channel.html?soid=1102873718283&aid=EdwEkretZMw

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Worms to Help with Detroit’s Remaining CSOs

Who knew? Now Detroit can handle 95% of its combined sewer overflows! Worms will help with the remaining 5%.

On June 24, 2016, The Atlantic City Lab published an article by Jessica Leigh Hester titled “Detroit Is Turning Vacant Lots Into Sponges for Stormwater.” Hester reports (excerpts):

Detroit’s aged sewer system carries both sanitary sewage and stormwater. It overflows into creeks and rivers after heavy rains.

“Over the last two decades, the city has poured $1 billion into upgrading the system; now, its six retention basins and three treatment facilities can accommodate approximately 95 percent of the untreated overflow—an improvement, but an imperfect solution. ‘How do you get to the last 5 percent of the problem?’ asks Palencia Mobley, the deputy director of Detroit Water and Sewerage. ‘Spending another $1 billion or $2 billion doesn’t make a lot of economical sense.’ To bridge the gap, the city has pivoted to focus on green infrastructure …”

Image Courtesy of Joan Nassauer
Rendering, bio-retention garden, Warrendale neighborhood. (Courtesy of Joan Nassauer)

Small scale stormwater interventions may suffice in other, more crowded cities, but Detroit has plenty of room for larger projects.

“It’s a sprawling city, with vacant or buckling properties scattered across its 139 square miles. As of April 2016, 66,125 vacant parcels were held by the Detroit Land Bank Authority, which has received more than $100 million in federal funds to demolish blighted structures.”

“This spring and summer, researchers across the city are investigating the immediate and long-term ecological and sociological benefits of turning vacant land into stormwater basins topped with colorful plants.”

“Wade Rose, the vacant land restoration manager at the reforestation and farming organization the Greening of Detroit, described the process of remediating parcels that have been untended for decades. The houses that used to sit on top of them, Rose says, were demolished before the current protocols were put in place; they might have been bulldozed into the basement and sealed off.”

“The project deploys various techniques for soil remediation and water retention: a wildflower meadow; a tree stand, in which oak trees’ roots fracture compacted soils; rain gardens with deep depressions; and a treatment that deposits 100,000 worms at depths ranging from 2-6 feet, creating a network of tunnels that make space for storm water.”

http://www.citylab.com/cityfixer/2016/06/detroit-vacant-lots-gardens-stormwater/488342/

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Big Ag vs. Water Quality

“There’s a growing public fight brewing over industrial agriculture’s water pollution,” says Donald Carr in the Huffington Post, June 19, 2016, under the caption, “Ag Lobby Paints Itself Into a Conservation Corner.” 


More clips:

“In all of these instances the Grand Ole Farm Lobby ™ has reacted with the well-worn message of voluntary conservation as the only solution.”

“The sad reality of voluntary conservation is that it is demonstrably not working.”

“It’s not working in Toledo, Des Moines, Minnesota, the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. It’s not working despite U.S. taxpayers subsidizing agriculture conservation measures nationally $39 billion

“... [I]f the ultimate goal is clean water and agriculture productivity, then the ag lobby is going to have to fight hard and loud for conservation funding … Otherwise, regulation is inevitable.” 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/donald-carr/ag-lobby-paints-itself-in_b_7313800.html

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Separate Storm and Sanitary Sewers!

Whether you live in the watershed for Lake St. Clair, Saginaw Bay or western Lake Erie, there’s a lesson for us all in the experience of people in Erie PA.

Presque Isle Bay / Erie PA

The Erie Times-News said in an August 21, 2015 editorial about algal blooms near Toledo OH the previous year:

“The city of Erie spent millions separating its storm and sanitary sewers, while many Great Lakes communities still haven't done it. The effect on [Presque Isle Bay’s] water quality has been so profound that we now have an annual swim to mark its improvement, and it has been removed from the Great Lakes Area of Concern List.”


*****

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Editorial Condemns Ohio’s Plan for Lake Erie

***  Buffalo News Pulls No Punches  ***

Buffalo Harbor Entrance

Following are selections from an editorial in the Buffalo News, June 15, 2016 about Ohio's Western Basin of Lake Erie Collaborative Agreement Implementation Plan.

“New York has paid a price over the years for its geographic location at the receiving end of Ohio’s pollution. Acid rain pelted our lakes and forests, deadening some in the Adirondack wilderness. Agricultural runoff from Ohio poisons Lake Erie, creating toxic algae blooms that are moving ever closer to Buffalo where, without intervention, they may eventually threaten the water supplies of many municipalities. It has to stop, not just for New York’s sake, but for Ohio’s, Pennsylvania’s and Ontario’s.” [AND MICHIGAN'S - J. Lang]

“Assemblyman Sean Ryan, D-Buffalo, said last week. ‘If the toxic algae blooms continue to spread, Buffalo and Western New York could be at risk. It is clear that Ohio has not gone far enough, and New York is threatened by Ohio’s inadequate plan.’ “

That’s why Washington – or the federal courts – will have to be involved … Ohio has frequently been slow to acknowledge its role in causing environmental harm to its neighbors.”

http://www.buffalonews.com/opinion/buffalo-news-editorials/ohios-pollution-control-effort-wont-do-enough-to-reduce-the-growth-of-dangerous-algae-20160615


http://www.epa.ohio.gov/News/OnlineNewsRoom/NewsReleases/TabId/6596/ArticleId/949/language/en-US/state-of-ohio-releases-draft-plan-to-reduce-nutrients-in-lake-erie-basin.aspx

*****

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Monroe MI Depends on Ohio Initiative

The City of Monroe, Michigan on the Lake Erie shore, 17 miles north of Toledo, Ohio, is a small town Mecca for tourism and water-related activities. Consequently, water quality in Lake Erie is a major concern.

Downtown Monroe and River Raisin

Of course, the State of Michigan has a hand in the game, but the primary responsibility for improving water quality in Lake Erie falls to the State of Ohio under an agreement between those two states and the Province of Ontario. Limiting phosphorus running off farm fields and into the lake, where it feeds algal blooms, is the first order of business.

Last month, the State of Ohio announced plans to cut the amount of phosphorus entering western Lake Erie by 20% by 2020, and by 40% by 2025, using the amount of phosphorus in 2008 as a baseline. A year ago, the governors of Ohio and Michigan and the premier of Ontario committed to those targets, the same goals agreed to by the U.S. and Canadian governments.

That’s a tall order. Some water quality experts doubt those goals can be met without drastic measures.

Ohio expects to improve monitoring at water treatment plants, identify watersheds more prone to erosion and set targets for phosphorus reduction in each county, among other steps.

Last year, Gov. Kasich signed legislation that prohibits spreading fertilizer on ground that is frozen, snow-covered or saturated, or if rain is forecast within 12 to 24 hours, depending on the type of fertilizer.

Critics say Ohio must compel compliance if the new limitations are not achieved voluntarily.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/midwest-states-target-algae-blooms-in-waterways-1465772363

Monday, June 13, 2016

Repeal of Michigan Shorelands Protection

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and his cronies propose to repeal the Shorelands Protection and Management Act, 1970 Public Act 245, and subsequent codification as Part 323, (Shorelands Protection and Management), of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 Public Act 451, as amended.

The proposal must be submitted to NOAA for approval. Snyder & Co. are calling the proposal a ‘routine program change’ (RPC) and ‘minor refinements.’

A recent public notice stated, “The Michigan Coastal Zone Management Program (MCZMP), in the Office of the Great Lakes, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), was approved by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1978…”

The notice goes on to say that the MCZMP contains enforceable policies pertaining to the management and protection of Michigan’s coast that are contained in Michigan statutes and rules.

“Any person wishing to comment on whether or not the action does or does not constitute RPCs of the MCZMP may do so by sending written comments [within three weeks] to Ms. Joelle Gore, Chief, Stewardship Division, NOAA Office for Coastal Management, N/OCM6, 1305 East-West Highway, SSMC 4, Room 10622, Silver Spring, Maryland, 20910, or Joelle.Gore@noaa.gov. “


The Snyder administration’s proposal warrants close scrutiny by the public, NGOs and environmental lawyers.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Free Press Resurrects DWSD Against KWA

Detroit Free Press - Have you been off on another planet the last five years? No, more likely you’re playing word games with an ulterior motive.



In today’s (6-12-16) Free Press (“Official: Flint will 'lose everything’…“) you wrote:

“While those punishing terms appear to make a Flint default unlikely, whether Flint hooks up with the new KWA pipeline to Lake Huron or opts to continue receiving treated Lake Huron water from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, as it does now, remains a live issue.” (Emphasis added.)  

As you know very well, Flint presently gets water from the regional successor to DWSD, the Great Lakes Water Authority. Your misstatement lingers until a correction at the bottom of the piece, which many readers won’t reach.

I suspect the Free Press is surreptitiously advancing the idea that an abused, downtrodden Flint should make common cause with an abused, downtrodden Detroit in part by resurrecting the DWSD brand, as if oblivious to GLWA and its Detroit retailer, DWSD-R.

I agree that an urban alliance against everything Republican, from Snyder to out-county Genesee, might be useful, but the means you’re employing could do more harm to Flint than to Republicans.


http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/flint-water-crisis/2016/06/11/official-flint-lose-everything-if-leaves-kwa/85662110/

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Big Ag's Big Lie About Lake Erie Impairment

Spraying Manure

I support cleaning up the nutrient overload in western Lake Erie. The cleanup requires restrictions on manure and chemical fertilizers running off farm fields in the Maumee River watershed, the largest part of which is in Ohio.

The governor of Ohio, his administrators in Ohio’s environmental, agriculture and natural resources departments and their colleagues in the Farm Bureau oppose such restrictions. Tougher pollution controls will cut into the profits of big corporate farm interests which are Farm Bureau’s benefactors and major political campaign contributors.

A long time lobbyist for the Farm Bureau, now Gov. Kasich’s spokesman on the Lake Erie impairment issue, has been telling people in Toledo and elsewhere that the Clean Water Act does not apply to agriculture, so the financial burden of any USEPA enforcement would fall on municipal sewage treatment plants. Both elements of that statement are blatant falsehoods. The Farm Bureau lost that argument in the Chesapeake Bay federal lawsuit, as the governor and his spokesman know very well.

Confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are unregulated or under-regulated manure factories. The operators spray millions upon millions of gallons of animal waste on farm fields in the Maumee watershed. The manure spread on fields far exceeds what is necessary as fertilizer for plant growth. The excess runs off into the Maumee and its tributaries, then into Lake Erie, fueling algal blooms.

In my view, we should determine whether Farm Bureau lobbying has morphed into ‘regulatory capture’ (see Wikipedia definition), and regulatory capture into RICO fraud. Examine it yourself. If the elements are there, the U.S. Department of Justice should act.

*****

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Canadian Influences on Shared Waters

LAKE ST. CLAIR:  Sometimes we forget that our neighbors across the border share with us similar concerns about water quality in Lake St. Clair.


Norman DeBono of the London (Ontario) Free Press wrote earlier this spring that heavy rains caused sewage overflows at London, polluting the Thames River, which flows into Lake St. Clair. City records show 59,473 cubic meters of raw sewage and 91,171 cubic meters of partially treated sewage were discharged to the river in the first quarter of the year.

Inadequately treated sewage contains phosphorus, which feeds algal blooms in Lake St. Clair and farther downstream in Lake Erie.

Another cause for concern is suspended sediment in the Thames River, much of it erosion from Ontario farms. A sediment plume clouding Lake St. Clair, beginning at the mouth of the river, can be seen often in satellite photos.

LAKE ERIE:  As you might expect, Canada monitors water quality in the Great Lakes. Some Canadian researchers look for toxins in Great Lakes fish. Results of recent tests in Lake Erie warrant our attention.

“Since the 1970s there has been a dramatic reduction in contaminants in Great Lakes. Harmful pollutants have been phased out or banned resulting in over 90% reduction levels for some contaminants. As the ecosystem recovers, contaminant levels continue to decline at most locations, with some exceptions. For example, a slight upward trend in contaminant levels in some Lake Erie fish is occurring.”
https://www.ontario.ca/page/ontarios-great-lakes-strategy-2016-progress-report

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Anticipating 'Impaired' Lake Erie

Just trying to get my head around some generalities about an EPA ‘impaired’ designation for Lake Erie.

Ambassador Bridge between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario

The entire lake is surrounded by Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and the Province of Ontario; thus, U.S.- Canadian treaties come into play, and the International Joint Commission (IJC) has a role. (By contrast, EPA’s plan to clean up Chesapeake Bay involves six states, but there is no international connection.)

If the ‘impaired’ label is applied only to the western basin of Lake Erie, then the states directly involved are Michigan and Ohio, plus Ontario, so treaties and the IJC remain pertinent.

Because a critical feature of an impaired western basin is the Maumee River watershed, Michigan, INDIANA and Ohio have to be taken into consideration for certain aspects of an EPA determination, but perhaps not Ontario (unless an indirect association is compelled by the Pakootas and Detroit Edison cases, U.S. and Canadian, respectively), nor treaties, nor IJC.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if somebody has sorted all of this out already?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Congress to Loosen Ballast Water Regs



Those of us in the vicinity of Lake St. Clair have heard plenty about ballast water and invasive species. A plan in Congress backed by cargo shippers would create gaping holes in the regulation of ballast water in U.S. waterways, opening the door to more invasive species like zebra and quagga mussels. John Flesher wrote for AP today (May 24, 2016):
The proposal was tucked into a $602 billion defense bill that the House passed last week, the latest twist in a longstanding struggle over how to handle water that ships carry in huge tanks during overseas voyages. Ballast provides stability in rough seas but harbors fish, plants and even viruses, which find new homes when vessels discharge the water in distant ports. Some multiply rapidly, out-compete native species for food and spread disease.

The debate focuses on how extensively ship operators should be required to treat ballast water to kill as many organisms as possible before the water is released…


This is one more example of Congress favoring special interests over the public interest.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Deny Monsanto Immunity for PCB Damages

SHOULD MONSANTO BE IMMUNE FROM LIABILITY FOR PCB DAMAGES?

Monsanto Plant
“Waterkeeper Alliance and 55 Waterkeeper member organizations and affiliates across the country are urging President Obama to oppose an attempt by Congress to protect Monsanto from liability for billions of dollars of damages caused by toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).”

“ ‘Monsanto’s PCBs have contaminated more than 80,000 miles of streams and rivers and 2.9 million acres of lakes and reservoirs in the United States alone,’ said Executive Director Marc Yaggi. ‘Rather than be shielded by Congress, they must be held accountable for the damage inflicted on people and natural resources across the country.’ ”


Ask our people in Congress to hold Monsanto accountable - NO IMMUNITY!