Our final News to Us of the year has no shortage of environmental and water issue headlines, including climate change, microplastics, aging infrastructure, and unaffordable water rates. Click the links below to learn about the challenges facing the Huron, Michigan, the Great Lakes, and the globe as well as actions you can take to help.

An aerial view of Peninsular Paper Dam on the Huron River in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Photo credit: Jacob Hamilton, MLive

Ypsilanti’s Peninsular Dam downgraded to ‘poor’ condition as removal plans proceed
A new state inspection of Peninsular Paper Dam in Ypsilanti updated the dam’s condition from fair to poor. While no immediately threatening conditions were identified, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s report notes structural deficiencies to Pen Dam. The Ypsilanti City Council voted to remove the dam in 2019 and has been collaborating with HRWC to plan for dam removal, post-removal river restoration, and park revitalization.

The world will likely miss 1.5 C. Why isn’t anyone saying so?
According to many climate experts, the world is expected to overshoot the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold for average global temperature rise. However, discussions at the COP27 United Nations Climate Summit in Egypt last month continued to keep the Paris climate agreement targets alive.

Scientists warn of health impacts as Great Lakes plastic pollution grows
Microplastics, or tiny particles of plastic less than 5 mm in length, continue to plague the Great Lakes and its tributaries. Despite public education and concern around microplastics, there has been no curb in the amount of plastics entering the Great Lakes. Researchers around the basin continue to examine the presence and health impacts of microplastics on humans and wildlife. Learn more about what you can do to reduce microplastics pollution into the Huron.

Water is unaffordable across Michigan, study shows
A recently released study from the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and the consulting firm Safe Water Engineering finds that water rates across Michigan continue to be unaffordable for many residents. The researchers discovered that water rates in Michigan have risen nearly 200% in 40 years when adjusted for inflation. As a result, the study revealed that many residents spend between 5 to 15% of their income on water services.

Green stormwater control measures clean up urban streams
New evidence out of Australia underscores the benefits of rain gardens in improving water quality and mitigating the impacts of urban heat islands. The multi-decade study of the Melbourne metropolitan area found that rain gardens and other green stormwater infrastructure features filtered runoff and reduced the temperature of urban streams by about 9 degrees Fahrenheit. Learn more about the benefits of rain gardens here or join an upcoming virtual Southeast Michigan master rain gardener training!