Following a year of ups and downs, this edition of News to Us sends off 2020 with local and state wins and continued challenges. Wins–improved dam regulations, new wastewater management plans, and river restoration. Challenges ahead–fish impairment and continued climbing atmospheric CO2 levels.

How scientists tracked down a mass killer (of salmon)
New research from the University of Washington reveals the role of tire-related chemicals in coho salmon deaths. The research discovered that worn tire particles on roads make their way into local waterways via stormwater, carrying an antioxidant called 6PPD that decimates salmon populations.

A new exhibit at Gallup Park along the Huron River provides interactive learning for kids of all ages and abilities. Photo Credit: MLive

Task force reviewing proposals to strengthen rules for Michigan dam owners
Following spring dam failures in Midland, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s new Michigan Dam Task Force is developing new regulations to improve dam management and safety. The task force met in November to review proposals addressing financial responsibility, licensing, monitoring, and emergency funding for Michigan’s over 2,500 dams.

Great Lakes Water Authority unveils 40-year wastewater plan
In early December, the Great Lakes Water Authority board of directors adopted a 40-year regional Wastewater Master Plan focused on water quality and affordability. The plan will provide strategic direction for the wastewater system serving 2.8 million people across 79 communities in Southeast Michigan.

CO2 hits new record despite Covid-19 lockdowns
Despite lockdown-induced emissions reductions, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have reached record levels. According to the World Meteorological Organization, the drop in emissions seen in 2020 is just a small blip in the long-term CO2 trends. Instead, a sustained flattening of the CO2 curve is needed to reduced climate change consequences.

Gallup Park introduces new wildlife exhibit for children of all abilities
A new Rotary Club-funded Interactive Wildlife Exhibit at Gallup Park’s Universal Access Playground will engage kids of all ages and abilities with the Huron River. Installed in October, the new features includes a matching game and scavenger hunt to teach kids about the biodiversity of the river and its surrounding natural areas.

Cleaning up the River Raisin over the years
The Huron River’s southern neighboring watershed, the River Raisin, has seen enormous improvements since heavy industrial use throughout the 20th century. This feature from the Monroe News charts a brief history of the River Raisin and recaps recent efforts to restore its health and revitalize its communities.