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Chicago’s shipping canal reversed the flow of a stream, drawing water from Lake Michigan through Illinois rivers to the Mississippi. Its 1900 completion was intended to protect the city from flooding and sewage during rainy periods. It’s now a commercial and recreational waterway, controlled by locks near Navy Pier. It’s been a source of contention at times of low lake levels and also, lately, because of concerns Asian carp will swim through it to Lake Michigan. A 1967 U.S. Supreme Court consent decree among Great Lakes states (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New York and Illinois) bars Illinois from drawing more than 3,200 cubic feet per second from Lake Michigan. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is charged with monitoring the diversion.
Representative Candice Miller has fired off letters to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder asking him to revisit the diversion agreement and to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers demanding the agency provide an up-to-date accounting of how much water is being taken. The last such report is more than four years old, she said, while noting Illinois was found to be drawing out more water than permitted as recently as 1994.
The Corps of Engineers data show Illinois also exceeded the cumulative limits between 1988 and 2000.But subsequent reports indicated compliance. The 2009 report said Illinois diverted 3,135 cubic feet per second from the lake — less than permitted.
For the full article, see Gary Heinlein, "Rep. Miller pushes for re-evaluation of diversion of water from Lake Michigan", Detroit News, April 30, 2013.
Just a few months after Lakes Michigan and Huron dropped to record lows, a commission is recommending that the U.S. and Canada investigate using various structures as a way to help restore water levels.
The International Joint Commission, which advises the countries on issues involving trans-boundary waters, announced the proposal Friday.
It encourages both governments to explore options, such as placing inflatable gates or other devices in the St. Clair River, that would provide relief during low water periods, rather than a more permanent change that could also exacerbate high water levels in the future.
The goal would be to restore water levels in Lakes Michigan and Huron by 5-10 inches.
For the full article, see Ann Zaniewski, "Inflatable gates can buoy lake levels, U.S., Canada told", Detroit Free Press, April 26, 2013.
US EPA to propose rules on wastewater from power plants
April 25, 2013
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency acknowledges that the slurries from coal-fired plants account for more than half the toxic pollutants dumped into U.S. waters by regulated industries. Now, after being sued by two environmental groups over the issue, the agency is preparing to set the first-ever federal limits on toxic metals in wastewater from coal-fired power plants. Depending on the EPA's final decision, the rule could affect either six of Michigan's power plants - or just one.
Record-breaking storms add two inches to Lakes Michigan and Huron
April 25, 2013
Keith Kompoltowicz is the Chief of Watershed Hydrology for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit. It’s normal for the lakes to go up a little in the spring, but Kompoltowicz says we’ve had so much rain lately that the typical spring increases in Lakes Michigan and Huron are up by about two inches more than normal. "There’s a huge contribution from those storms," said Kompoltowicz. "It’s looking like we came up from the first of the month through 22nd of the month. We’re up well over 5 or 6 inches, so far, from start of the month." Two inches more on Lakes Michigan and Huron means the storms dropped 1.6 trillion gallons of water into the system.
In 1838, just a year after Michigan became a state, legislators saw to it that one of the first 10 laws ever enacted was a bounty on wolves. And even before statehood, individual towns and counties incentivized wolf eradication: in the early 1830s in Jackson County, for instance, citizens were paid $2.50 for each wolf scalp brought to the county government.
The 1960s were the darkest days for Michigan’s wolves. Though the decade finally saw the repeal of the bounty law and even new state legislation giving wolves full protection, it was, in all the ways that counted, too late. Except for a small population in northern Minnesota, wolves had been eradicated from the entire contiguous U.S. by the mid-1960s.
“It’s a pretty uncommon thing to see a species go from the endangered species list to a species that you may manage through a public harvest,” says Adam Bump, a specialist with the DNR. “Trying to navigate all the different policies, politics, social and biological factors of doing that is really complex.”
For the full post see Emily Bingham, "Living With Wolves", Found Michigan, April 25, 2013.
Michigan is following national trends with fewer days of high levels of air pollution, according to a new study by the American Lung Association.
The 2013 State of the Air report looks at data from across the United States. Michigan, the report found, has seen a decrease in particle pollution, or soot, since 2012.
However, the state has seen more days of high ozone, or smog.
For the full article, see Fritz Klug, "State of the Air 2013: See Michigan's grades, rankings from American Lung Association study in this database", MLive, April 24, 2013.
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