Archive for the ‘News to Us’ Category
There has been a wealth of relevant news we have run across here at HRWC over the past couple of weeks. So much so, that for this edition of News to Us, I couldn’t pick just five. So, in addition to the five article summaries I usually post, I have a list of headlines that may be of interest to you as well. Read about the loss of several key stream gages in the watershed, the proposed Lyndon Township sand mine, Ann Arbor’s new Green Streets policy and several articles on the implications of the severe winter weather we are experiencing.
Deal sought to keep flood predictor intact The Huron Clinton Metropark Authority recently pulled funding for several stream gages in the Huron River and its tributaries. These gages provide river flow measurements used by municipalities and other groups to monitor water levels in the river. Hamburg Township is one community looking into how to keep these gages in operation. They provide critical early warning during flood conditions.
The Crushing Cost of Climate Change: Why We Must Rethink America’s Infrastructure Investments Our nation’s aging infrastructure crisis coupled with more extreme weather events are adding up to burdensome level of expenses shouldered by states and local municipalities. This article discusses action at the national level to support critical infrastructure improvements and rebuilding after disasters.
Ann Arbor adopts ‘green streets’ policy to address stormwater runoff, pollution Ann Arbor’s City Council voted to adopt a policy that requires road projects to address stormwater. Road projects will use engineering and vegetation to infiltrate at least the first inch of rain from storms improving water quality and stream flows, reducing the risk of flooding and minimizing wear and tear on the stormwater system.
CHELSEA: Public sounds off about Lyndon Township sand mine proposal The public hearing pertaining to a proposed sand mine in Lyndon Township between the Pinckney and Waterloo Recreation Areas drew hundreds voicing opposition to the project including State Representative Gretchen Driskell. Concerns about water quality, groundwater wells, wildlife, traffic and noise were among those voiced at the public hearing. A second hearing is scheduled for March 13th and a petition is circulating for those who oppose the development.
Convicted sewage dumper loses another court challenge The conviction of a man charged with violating Michigan’s Natural Resources Protection Act, stands after a recent court challenge. Charges came from an incident where raw sewage was dumped into the Huron River for three days from a property owned by the defendant.
- Two Scio Properties Added to Greenbelt
- Brutal winter costly for Road Commission
- Spring flooding forecast for the Detroit and Ann Arbor areas: See where major flooding could be a problem
- News Briefs: Sewage overflows from manhole at Genoa condos
Dexter’s Mill Creek Park recieves an award. Also, learn more about the problem underlying Michigan fish consumption advisories, what all this snow means as temperatures warm, and the status of negotiations on the future of Detroit Water and Sewer. Finally, we share two articles on proposed developments in the watershed that are making waves.
DEXTER: Dexter Village recognized by Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors for Mill Creek Park Area realtors give a nod to Dexter’s Mill Creek Park, awarding the Village of Dexter one of two Environmental Awareness Awards. Several groups came together including HRWC and the Village to remove a dam from Mill Creek in 2008. The dam removal and riverside improvements on this tributary of the Huron River show how social, cultural and ecological goals can align and result in something remarkable.
Michigan’s toxic fish face long recovery, state finds Most fish consumption advisories in the State are in place because of high levels of mercury and PCB’s in fish tissue. These pollutants are particularly challenging to reduce as the majority of the pollutants originate in places outside of Michigan and are deposited here when it rains. A sobering analysis conducted by MDEQ concludes clean-up requires global commitments to reduce emissions of these toxins and could take 50 or more years before we see improvements here in Michigan.
Could all this snow bring spring flooding in Ann Arbor? City official says it depends The weather forecast for next week shows warm temperatures at last. Will we see flooding as record setting snowfall accumulations melt?
Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson on Detroit water deal: ‘We’re probably going to walk’
Many residents of the watershed receive their drinking water from Detroit Sewer and Water, particularly in Wayne County and parts of Oakland County. With major budget issues DSW has been in flux and one solution on the table is to create a regional water authority. Communities have mixed opinions on the current proposal for this new entity.
CHELSEA: Public hearing on Lyndon sand mine expected to attract concerned residents There are a couple of pending developments in the watershed that are creating a stir. This article shares a proposed sand mining operation in Lyndon Township near Green Lake and Waterloo Recreation Area. To voice your concerns, attend a public hearing scheduled for Monday February 17th at 7:00 PM at Sylvan Township Hall.
Development spurs debate Another development making headlines is a proposed subdivision on one of the last remaining natural areas on Woodland Lake in Brighton Township. A public hearing took place last week. A rezoning proposal now resides with the Livingston County Planning Commission.
This edition of News to Us shares several articles on pollution, both where we are losing ground and making some gains. Two stories provide updates on pending park improvements. Finally, take a look back at January’s weather in a piece that captures the month in numbers.
Michigan rivers polluted by human, animal waste more than double previous estimates Occurrences of pathogen pollution have more than doubled in Michigan’s rivers and lakes in recent years. The new numbers are thought to be the result of better monitoring rather than marked changes in water quality. The problem is, and has been, widespread. Most of the waters impaired by pathogens (from human and animal waste) are located in southeast Michigan. Failing septic tanks, manure from farm fields, sewer overflows and polluted runoff are the leading contributors to the problem.
Can sewage treatment plants protect fish from the chemicals in the water? Building on the story we published in the last edition of News to Us on trace chemicals in drinking water, Michigan Radio’s The Environment Report, covers potential impacts to fish from emerging contaminants – pharmaceuticals.
Michigan: Thornapple River. Removing Dam Improves Dissolved Oxygen Levels in River It is not all bad news when it comes to water quality. Before and after monitoring data showed improved dissolved oxygen (DO) levels at the site of a dam removal. Prior to the removal of the dam, DO levels were so low, the river was listed as impaired under the Clean Water Act. The river will be delisted for its DO impairment.
By the numbers: See how Ann Arbor’s cold and snowy January stacks up against history This is a fun look at this month’s weather. It uses Ann Arbor’s weather stations but similar numbers would apply across the watershed. Spoiler alert: It’s been coooold!
Milford Village Council Approves Final Submittal for Phase I of AMP Project Milford is one step closer to making significant improvements its Central Park that includes an amphitheater for their summer concert series. Pettibone Creek, a tributary of the Huron River, runs through this park. Milford is one of five Huron River Trail Towns.
Next steps for Ann Arbor greenway project uncertain after grant funds denied A key parcel in the Allen’s Creek Greenway, did not receive state funding for improvements necessary to take it from a retired city maintenance yard to a welcoming civic space. The Allen Creek Greenway Conservancy and the City of Ann Arbor will be meeting to determine what the next steps for keeping the greenway project moving forward.
Winter, without a doubt, is upon us. And after a major ice storm and the polar vortex hitting our area, the weather and water are making headlines. Read a couple of pieces on the polar vortex, what it is and what responses it provoked. Also, a lovely winter resident, the Snowy Owl, is making a little trouble for air travel. Read a local article on new substances showing up in our drinking water and a national article chronicling some major issues facing our water supply and where technology made hold the solution.
U.S. Cold Snap Inspires Climate Change Denial, While Scientists See Little Room for Doubt The Polar Vortex sure did a lot to spark conversation about Global Warming. This article shares why cold weather and a warmer climate are not mutually exclusive.
The Polar Vortex Explained in 2 Minutes And speaking of the Polar Vortex…what is such a thing anyway? This short video explains the phenomenon for those of us that do not spend our days thinking about jet streams, pressure systems and temperature differentials.
Why airports look like home to snowy owls Detroit Metro Airport is landing more than planes these days. This winter has been a bumper year for the Snowy Owl, a sometimes winter resident of southeast Michigan. They are a welcome sight but pose a particular challenge at airports.
What should we do about the trace chemicals found in drinking water? Recent testing found 19 different drugs in the water used for Ann Arbor’s drinking water, of which, only 8 were filtered out during treatment. What does this mean for our health and the health of aquatic organisms? Listen to this report to find out more.
EPA’s Top 10 Technology Needs For Water Nutrient, sediment, and bacterial pollution, aging infrastructure, inefficiencies in water use and climate change all strain the nation’s water supply. This article shares what the Environmental Protection Agency deems the top ten water issues that could benefit from technological solutions.
Happy New Year from all of us here at HRWC. We hope 2014 brings you many opportunities to convene with the rivers and lakes of the watershed. To start the year off right, consider heading to Proud Lake Recreation Area for some winter river recreation. This edition of News to Us also shares stories on the dioxane contamination in Ann Arbor’s groundwater, an Ypsilanti riverfront development, a new State-level strategy on aquatic invasives, reports of another major waterbird die-off event and how water loss from pipes is affecting your water bill.
Heavner Canoe, Kayak Rental To Host Outdoor Open House on New Year’s Day
Bundle up and get down to the river tomorrow to kick off the new year! Heavner Canoe, the Department of Natural Resources and Solar Club are hosting an event at Proud Lake Recreation Area. Snow shoe, kayak or canoe your way into 2014.
Michigan DEQ could set higher standards for dioxane pollution cleanup in 2014 The Department of Environmental Quality is considering higher State-level standards for dioxane contamination. This is welcome news for Ann Arbor residents who have been advocating for a better cleanup of a dioxane plume spreading in the groundwater in the Wagner Road area and moving toward the Huron River. The toxic plume is the result of contamination from the Pall Life Sciences medical manufacturing facility. HRWC supports stricter standards for the clean up of this toxin.
Smaller $12M Eastside Recreation Center proposed to accommodate future Water Street developments Ypsilanti may be home to a new recreation center along the Huron River. The proposed community center is a cornerstone of the Automotive Heritage Trail District being created by local partners to brand this section of the Huron River and border to border trail from Peninsular Park to the historic Ford Lake Dam.
Michigan agencies step up invasive species fight Michigan state agencies now have a shared strategy to help fight the spread of aquatic invasive species. Implementation of the strategy will begin in earnest with coordinated early detection and rapid response. The strategy also involves public education as a means of identifying new infestations early.
Paying more to lose water by the minute Volumes of water are lost from leaking pipes in our water systems. Aging infrastructure and the absence of standardized required water audits have led to the loss of approximately 66.5 billion gallons of water annually in the Great Lakes region. Water loss leads to revenue loss for utilities which results in increased water rates for consumers.
Botulism Bacteria Blamed for Deaths of Waterbirds on Lake Ontario Another significant Great Lakes waterbird die-off event is occurring now, this time in Lake Ontario. A complex mix of factors, including nutrient pollution and algal blooms, lead to the botulism outbreaks that are killing loons and other water birds at alarming rates.
There is a lot of local action this edition of News to Us. Read about a potential new wastewater treatment facility in Superior Township and lakeside residential development on Woodland Lake in Brighton. Hamburg Township has come to resolution on conflict around boater behavior on Base Line Lake. Learn more about the work of HRWC and many partners to enhance the role the river plays in many of our communities. And finally, a recent article provides a good summary of the current status of fracking in the State of Michigan.
SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP: Board updated on developers’ DEQ permit application Negotiations continue around a proposed 1,200 unit mobile home development and new wastewater treatment plant that would discharge into the Huron River in Superior Township. Rock Riverine has submitted an application to DEQ for a wastewater discharge permit which would add phosphorus to the Huron in stretch of river that already exceeds the TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) for phosphorus. TMDL’s are part of the Clean Water Act and set the maximum amount of a pollutant that a body of water can receive while still meeting water quality standards.
Development worries residents A proposed project would bring nearly 50 new homes to Woodland Lake in Brighton Township on what may be the last undeveloped parcel on the lake. The 43 acre parcel is currently forested with wetlands and is hilly. Local residents are voicing their concerns over the development of this parcel and the impacts it would have on the lake. There is a public hearing tentatively scheduled for Feb. 10, 2014.
Hamburg won’t seek watercraft ordinance from state Last month we highlighted an article citing growing concerns about noise and the inappropriate behavior of boaters on Base Line Lake. In lieu of a watercraft ordinance, the Township has decided to provide additional patrolling as a first step to manage the issue.
Guest Blogger: Tom Woiwode Friend of HRWC and champion for greenways in Southeast Michigan, Tom Woiwode blogs about RiverUp!, the water trail and other efforts to invest in the river for community vitality, economic development, and recreational and cultural activity.
Tighter regulations coming for hydraulic fracking in Michigan For those following the fracking issue in Michigan, this article provides a nice summary of recent changes to regulations. Read more about the natural gas extraction process, the rules regulating it and the public’s concern about the growing number of wells drilled using high volume hydraulic fracturing in the State.
The latest edition of our biweekly news round up provides an update on Great Lakes water levels, highlights a major road construction project in the watershed and shares how Ann Arbor is planning to implement its Climate Action Plan. Read about potential riverside developments in two of the Huron River Water Trail Trail Towns. Also, how often do you play tourist in your own state? Take a fun survey to see how many sites you have seen in the Mighty Mitt.
Issues of the Environment: Ann Arbor’s Climate Action Plan A recent broadcast of WEMU’s Issues of the Environment interviews Ann Arbor’s, Environment Coordinator, Matt Naud. The interview discusses the City’s Climate Action Plan and the push to implement strategies identified in the plan that will help reduce carbon emissions and prepare the city and its residents for anticipated changes to the local climate.
Great Lakes water levels recover from near-record lows Water levels in the Great Lakes is an issue many Michiganders are paying attention to. Much has been debated about the cause(s) of record low levels in the Great Lakes and what can be expected over time pertaining to lake levels. Here is the latest update that brings some welcome news on the issue.
Environmental group raises concerns about US-23 project north of Ann Arbor A newly proposed highway project in our watershed is getting some attention from environmental groups wanting to make sure improvements appropriately address potential impacts. A public meeting is scheduled for December 12, 2013 for those interested in learning more or providing input.
Milford’s AMP in Central Park Nears Fundraising Goal Community members in Milford have joined forces to raise funds for improvements to its Central Park along the Huron River. The group is nearing its fundraising goals that will bring an outdoor amphitheater and barrier-free public restroom facilities to the park. Milford is a Trail Town on the Huron River Water Trail. Read more about the value of riverside amenities and municipal spaces at RiverUp!
Waterfront development with restaurants, a boardwalk and upscale apartments proposed for Ford Lake Ford Lake, a reservoir of the Huron River, is the location of another proposed riverside development. The concept plans shows potential amenities such as dining and retail along the water, as well as housing, recreation trails, and a disc golf course. Improving walkability and access to the lake on the north shore of the lake could be assets to Ypsilanti Township and the City of Ypsilanti, a Trail Town of the Huron River Water Trail.
Michigan Tourist Attractions And for a little fun, how good of a local tourist are you? Take a look at these Michigan attractions. How many have you visited? Tell us! What tops your list of must-sees?
Lots of activity in the policy sphere in this edition of News to Us. EPA threatens to reclaim control over wetland regulations in Michigan, Hamburg Township considers a watercraft-control ordinance and a lovely little butterfly seeks endangered status to protect remaining populations. Also read about a new aquatic plant invading lakes and how several Great Lakes cities are adapting to climate change.
EPA hearing will give public a voice in whether Michigan should retain regulation of wetlands On December 11th, Michigan residents will be able to provide comment during a public hearing on whether or not the EPA should revoke Michigan’s authority to administer wetland regulations under the Clean Water Act. Michigan’s administration of the regulations have been under scrutiny as inconsistent with Section 404 of the Act and less protective of wetlands.
Officials take aim at lake revelry Conflict over public uses of Baseline Lake have Hamburg Township officials considering options. Residents around the lake are complaining of loud and inappropriate behavior on the public lake. On November 19th there will be a public hearing on the issue and the potential for a local watercraft-control ordinance.
Cities adapting to changing climate, but more changes coming The work of HRWC partner, the Graham Sustainability Institute, was highlighted in a story on how cities are adapting to a changing climate. Ann Arbor is one of several cities in the Great Lakes that are part of the Great Lakes Adaptation Assessment for Cities program helping support cities considering how to adapt to changes in temperature and rainfall patterns.
Michigan cracks down on frogbit crowding out state lakes A new non-native aquatic plant is invading lakes and other slow moving waters in southeast Michigan. Several confirmed reports have the species taking hold in areas of the lower Huron River watershed near the outlet to Lake Erie. The Michigan DNR is looking for citizen help to identify new locations of this nuisance weed. The Midwest Invasive Species Information Network has information on the species and how to report sightings.
STATE: U.S. considers endangered classification for butterfly found prominently in Michigan One of our watershed residents the Poweshiek skipperling, has seen dramatic population declines in recent years. This little butterfly lives in the remaining prairie fens in the watershed with known occurrences in Livingston, Oakland and Washtenaw counties. If classified as endangered a recovery plan for the species will be developed.
This edition of News to Us provides updates on a couple of emerging threats to Michigan’s water – Asian carp and fracking. Also, learn where Osprey go to escape the winter and how water can be the basis of a strong and growing economy.
Osprey from Michigan refuge arrives in Cuba You may recall, back in September, we shared some news about our local Osprey getting a new accessory (Osprey to wear backpacks in Southeast Michigan). Well, it seems our friends have traveled long and far. Read this article to find out where for local Osprey are wintering this year.
Michigan DEQ proposes new fracking regulations in light of environmental, health concerns In response to growing public concern, MDEQ has updated regulations on hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’. The new regulations require more reporting and closer monitoring of high volume fracking operations. While this is a step in the right direction, there is still room for improvement to ensure our waters are protected from depletion or contamination from fracking.
Water, water everywhere in Michigan – but is it enough? While water in Michigan hardly seems scare, this article highlights why we should not take this for granted and how even in a state with abundant water resources, we can experience scarcity.
Asian carp reproduce in Great Lakes watershed Scientists have found evidence that the non-native Asian Carp has reproduced in the Sandusky River in Ohio. While individual carp have been found in the Great Lakes watershed in the past, this is the first time it can be confirmed that they are here and reproducing.
Great Lakes state playing catch-up in effort to build water-based economy You may have, by now, heard the term “Blue economy”. It is the idea that water and all of its uses can form the basis of a burgeoning economy. While there are many examples in Michigan of communities making strides toward a robust blue economy, one study shows Michigan is lagging behind other Great Lakes states in this area. RiverUp! is an example here in the Huron River watershed of building a water-based economy.
News to Us has been coming to you via a guest editor (one of HRWC’s summer interns Jhena Vigrass — Thanks Jhena!) for the past couple of months while I was out on maternity leave. After many weeks of very minimal exposure to news and current events, I have resurfaced to mixed news on the state of our river and the waters of Southeast Michigan. There have been an alarming number of reports of sewage overflows and other hazardous spills recently. This may be due to better reporting, coincidence, aging infrastructure or negligence. Likely it is a combination of several of these reasons. What it means for certain is our river has taken some hits and diligence on the part of HRWC, local governments, the State and watershed residents is as important as ever. Read about some of these setbacks and the steps several of our neighbors including Oakland County, the City of Ann Arbor and the communities of the Raisin River watershed, are doing to improve the situation.
COLUMN: Crucial issues need to be addressed regarding Great Lakes health Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner, Jim Nash shares his opinion on some of the most pressing local issues that affect our waterways and the health of the Great Lakes. He discusses stormwater management and what he hopes the recent summit hosted by the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office will do to raise awareness about stormwater issues and solutions.
Ann Arbor’s increasing sewage overflows and aging sewer system a concern of officials This article discusses recent sewage spills in Ann Arbor, possible reasons for more frequent infrastructure failures and what the City is doing in response. These spills often reach the Huron River or its tributaries directly, impacting water quality. Rapid response and prevention are key to protecting our water from sewage contamination.
Popular Bathroom Wipes Blamed for Sewer Clogs. In related news, this national piece was recently released. There are things, we as residents of this watershed, can do to help our cities and villages keep sewer systems clean, functioning and less susceptible to failure. Avoid flushing anything that does not breakdown readily such as the bathroom wipes mentioned in this article but also diapers, disposable toilet bowl cleaners, baby wipes, feminine hygiene products, oil and grease all of which contribute to clogged sewage pipes.
Unknown fluid draining into Huron River near EMU campus Washtenaw County HAZMAT and EPA are investigating the spill of an unknown substance to the Huron River last week. The spill occurred near the Eastern Michigan University campus by the bridge on Forest Avenue, near Frog Island.
River Raisin Less Polluted, Officials Say Good news coming from our neighbors to the south. The Raisin River watershed, draining areas of Washtenaw, Jackson, Lenawee, Hillsdale and Monroe counties, has realized enough improvement in the river that several “beneficial use impairments” (BIUs), set by USEPA, have been removed. Two of fourteen BIUs were removed because of marked gains on E. coli and nutrient levels in the river. This is great progress made through the efforts of the communities and residents of the Raisin River watershed.