News to Us features articles on PFAS and Huron River recreation, May’s historic wet weather, the latest federal action on the Clean Water Act, and how dogs can harm green infrastructure.

PFAS and Recreation on the River. It IS safe to swim, boat (and catch and release fish).
While technically not news to us, it is a message worth sharing! As the emerging threat of PFAS has unfolded across Michigan and on the Huron River, it’s raised concerns about recreation. The good news is that swimming and boating on the Huron River Water Trail are still okay.

A wet May plagued agriculture throughout the U.S. Photo credit: Ari Bakker, Flickr Creative Commons

Drenched US documents its 2nd wettest May on record
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s latest national climate report reveals May 2019 was the second-wettest month on record in the United States, just 0.03 inches shy of the all-time wettest month. May also saw record snowfall and historic flooding in some areas of the US, overwhelming agriculture and infrastructure.

EPA reverses course and rejects Clean Water Act jurisdiction over groundwater discharges
The Environmental Protection Agency released an interpretive statement giving its opinion on whether groundwater that connects to surface waters is subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act. EPA considers pollutants discharged to groundwater are not subject to permitting, which leaves our groundwater unprotected. This development is concerning, however, the enforcement of this interpretive statement is still up in the air until the Supreme Court clarifies in its next term if the scope of CWA authority extends to groundwater.

Great Lakes set record high water levels, could continue rising
The latest data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shows that Lakes Superior, Erie and St. Clair have surpassed previous record high water levels, just six years after the lakes were at record low levels. These lake fluctuations have grown more extreme over time and are a product of the increasing precipitation and high evaporation seen with climate change. These high levels in the Great Lakes are predicted to continue increasing into the coming weeks, threatening shoreline properties, summer recreation, and spring crop planting.

Why you shouldn’t let your dog pee on green infrastructure
A recent study by Columbia University researchers indicates that dog urine can impair the function and health of rain gardens. The nitrogen from dog urine harms plant root growth and microbial diversity and can compromise a rain garden’s ability to properly filter and store stormwater runoff. Good for pet owners to keep in mind when walking their dogs!

Ann Arbor gives initial OK to $100M riverfront redevelopment plan
Ann Arbor City Council gave an initial approval to the rezone the 14-acre DTE Energy property along Huron River. This is the latest decision to advance plans for the construction of a multi-level, condo/hotel facility just downstream of Argo Dam. Final approval of the rezoning request is set for July 1st. Until then, members of the public are encouraged to provide comments on the development.