The March edition of News to Us brings you stories on innovations and solutions to water quality threats such as aging water and dam infrastructure, road salt, and microplastic fibers. Click the links below to learn more about how researchers, decision-makers, and businesses are advocating for and identifying new ways to mitigate historic environmental ills.

The Sanford Dam near Midland, Michigan prior to the dam failure on May 19, 2020. Photo credit: Steve Carmody, Michigan Radio

Task force says Michigan’s dams face “grave situation” without significant investment
The Michigan Dam Safety Task Force recently completed its review of dam safety across the state following nearly of a year of investigation. The Task Force’s report reveals many dams across the state are in need of investment and outlines 86 recommendations. The Task Force was created by Governor Gretchen Whitmer following the failures at Edenville and Sanford dams last spring.

Road Salt: Researchers look at vegetables and juices for alternatives to salt
Due to the negative environmental impact of road salt on water quality, alternative deicers are being explored by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). A recently passed Michigan act mandates MDOT to implement a pilot program to evaluate agricultural additives, such as cheese brine, pickle juice, and beet juice, to control ice on roads.

Sustainable fabrics reducing the impact of microplastics on the planet
In an effort to combat the globally-pervasive problem of microplastic pollution, clothing manufacturers are identifying ways to reduce the shedding of microplastic fibers from clothing. Outdoor brand Polartec is leading the charge in sustainable clothing material innovation. This article from Forbes outlines the origins of the microplastic pollution problem and introduces new innovations, like those by Polartec, towards a more sustainable clothing industry.

Opinion: Equal water access must be a core part of our climate response
The COVID-19 pandemic and the recent crisis in Texas underscore water access and safety inequities across the country and the disproportionate impact on black and brown communities. This opinion piece, by Monica Lewis-Patrick and Collete Pichon Battle, describes how energy, public health, and social inequities intersect with the nation’s water infrastructure challenges.

Paying tribute to the women of the Huron River Watershed Council
In celebration of Women’s History Month, this Issues of the Environment feature from WEMU spotlights the contributions of key women to the work of the Huron River Watershed Council. Learn more about the efforts of a handful of influential women in shaping HRWC and improving the quality of the Huron River.