Posts Tagged ‘pollution’

News to Us

Florida Sea Grant agent Maia McGuire sampling for microplastics in a freshwater stream and microplastics photographed in the studio for a Florida Trend feature on Friday, July 21st, 2017.

Microplastics photographed in the studio collected from stream samples. Credit: Flickr Creative Commons License Florida Sea Grant.

This edition of News to Us provides news coverage on several major threats to freshwater including plastics, pharmaceuticals, invasive species, dioxane, and pavement sealers.

Plastics Are Forever
HRWC has been investigating the threat and impacts of plastics in the Huron River. Researchers are learning more all the time about how widespread the problem is and what the impacts are to the environment and drinking water. This radio piece dives deep on the issue with three experts.

Without Superfund cleanup, Ann Arbor still focused on court case against polluter
This month, the EPA shared its decision that the dioxane plume in the groundwater beneath Scio Township and Ann Arbor will not be declared a Superfund site.  Michigan DEQ will remain the oversight body on the issue. Ann Arbor, Scio Township, Washtenaw County, and the Huron River Watershed Council continue to pursue legal action for stronger clean-up.

Michigan GOP to invasive species: Welcome to the Great Lakes
A bill moving quickly to the Governor’s desk (House Bill 5095) will loosen restrictions on how shipping vessels manage ballast water.  Ballast water is the primary source of invasive species to the Great Lakes.  This bill weakens 2005 bipartisan legislation designed to reduce the impacts of invasives on the Great Lakes and the economic implications of those invasions. It is not too late to call Governor Snyder and request a veto.

Coal Tar Pavement Sealant Bans Discussed at Stormwater Summit
HRWC partnered with the Clinton River Watershed Council to present on the topic of toxic pavement sealers at the Oakland County Regional Stormwater Summit last month. Coal tar and other high-PAH sealants are used to maintain low traffic asphalt surfaces such as parking lots and driveways. We are looking to get more southeast Michigan communities to take action to eliminate this source of toxins in our lakes, rivers and homes.

Issues Of The Environment: Washtenaw Drug Take-Back Programs Protect Environment And Public Health
David Fair talks with Jeff Krcmarik, the Washtenaw County Environmental Program Supervisor, on the implications of pharmaceuticals in our waterways and how residents can appropriately dispose of medications to help reduce the presence of these in lakes, rivers and drinking water. Some recent articles are covering the implications of pharmaceuticals on great lakes fish.

Issues Of The Environment: Huron River And Huron River Watershed Trail Benefits Local Economy
The Huron River is one of the area’s greatest natural resources. And a new study shows it also provides an economic boon to the region. Find out how and what is still to come as WEMU’s David Fair talks with HRWC’s Elizabeth Riggs.

HRWC gets help from the dogs!

Kenna

Kenna

Investigating Honey Creek

HRWC, with funding from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, is working to identify and control or eliminate bacteria and other pathogen sources in Honey Creek. We are currently implementing  projects within critical areas of the watershed that will address the sources of the contamination. One project is investigating areas that were identified during the watershed management planning process as having human-sourced bacteria.

In 2013 HRWC conducted Bacterial Source Tracking (BST) on water samples from Honey Creek locations that we found to exceed the Total Body Contact standard for E. coli. A laboratory analyzed the E. coli DNA material for the presence of five markers which identify its source as human, cow, dog, horse, or goose. Samples from two target critical areas were identified as having strong indication of human-sourced bacteria.

Kenna alerting at creek.

Kenna alerting at creek.

Enter the Dog Detectives

To confirm the lab results and determine where this bacteria was coming from, HRWC took an innovative approach. We enlisted the help of a couple of dog detectives! These are not just any dogs, they are trained specifically to detect human sewage in surface water and storm water systems caused by failing septic systems, leaking sewer lines or illicit discharges. Environmental Canine Services, LLC (ECS), helped us investigate the two branches of Honey Creek identified during the BST process. We were also joined by staff from the Washtenaw Water Resources Commissioners Office, and Washtenaw County Public Health. Dogs, Kenna and Abbey, were diligent workers and a delight to watch.

Abbey alerting at creek.

Abbey alerting at creek.

Great Lakes Now recently reported on this innovative approach, interviewing Karen Reynolds, President of ECS, during her visit to Michigan.

There is still more to do. HRWC will further analyze the results from this latest investigation, and determine next steps with project partners.

More information about our work in Honey Creek

And remember, you can help keep bacteria out of our streams by maintaining your septic system.

 

News to Us

High flows on the Huron River in Dexter Township

High flows on the Huron River in Dexter Township

Read a sample of local to national news pieces that caught the eyes of HRWC staff over the past month.  Water quality, local flooding, recycling water and summer recreation are topics covered in this edition of News to Us.

Caution urged along swollen rivers, streams  Water levels are still high throughout the watershed.  Please use extra caution if on or near the rivers until water levels have subsided after recent record rainfalls.

The Huron River Water Trail  As we gear up for another warm weather recreation season here Michigan, HRWC’s Elizabeth Riggs blogs on how to optimize your experience on the Huron River.

In US, Water Pollution Worries Highest Since 2001  Results from a recent Gallup poll show that water is on the minds of the American Public.  Take a look at this year’s numbers and how it compares to other years.

Beer Brewers Test A Taboo, Recycling Water After It Was Used In Homes  Companies are innovating water use and conservation, especially in areas where water scarcity concerns are growing.  Water can be safely reclaimed, for example, and a group of brewers in the West are helping to debunk taboos associated with this practice.

What’s at Stake in Trump’s Proposed E.P.A. Cuts  The Environmental Protection Agency has been the subject of much attention since the proposed White House budget was released last month. This article does a good job of digging into the weeds of what is likely to be affected by the proposed cuts. You may be surprised with breadth of responsibilities the EPA has and what we stand to lose should the cuts make it through budget negotiations. The loss of nonpoint source grant funding will directly impact the work of HRWC as will a number of other cuts. Nonpoint source grants provide funding for a significant number of our projects.

 

News to Us

Microplastics issue far from solved. Image: Chesapeake Bay Program via Flickr Creative Commons

Microplastics issue far from solved. Image: Chesapeake Bay Program via Flickr Creative Commons

Stormwater management in a changing climate, buffering our rivers and lakes, emerging pollutants such as pharmaceuticals and microplastics, and drunk tubing (because, why not?) all in this edition of News to Us, HRWC’s monthly round up of noteworthy water news.

How Grand Rapids is prepping for the next big storm
Bridge Magazine takes an in-depth look at how two cities in Michigan are changing the way they build and rebuild to deal with heavier rainfall. Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor use innovative stormwater management practices to protect people and infrastructure from damage that can be caused by flooding.

Huron Natural River District One Step Closer In Webster
HRWC has been working with municipalities along the stretch of the Huron River designated a Natural River District.  Webster is strengthening protections for the river by adopting a local ordinance that requires buildings be set back a distance from lakes and rivers to minimize impacts of development to the ecological health and beauty of the Township’s water ways.

Emerging pollutants are those that are relatively new to our collective awareness of what negatively impacts our environment. Two recent articles illustrate the myriad ways that these pollutants show up and wreak havoc and how little we know about sources, impact and solutions. There is more work to be done.

And just for a little fun…

Fifteen hundred possibly drunk Americans successfully invade Canada via the St. Clair River
No this is not satire.  It is a real headline. A chuckle worthy headline.  None-the-less, a reminder to mind your manners and your neighbors when recreating in our state’s beautiful lakes and rivers. Read our Share the River Code here.

News to Us

ErieAlgaeNews to Us this week finds more on local activity around recent interests in oil and gas development in our watershed in the news lately.  Also, a new shop opens in Dexter catering to river and nature enthusiasts and a couple of updates on water pollution issues reminding us to keep diligent on both new and known pollutants.

Judge denies injunction against oil well in Scio Township For those keeping tabs on oil well drilling in Scio Township, an injunction filed to delay oil exploration drilling in Scio Township was denied in Washtenaw Circuit Court. The delay was sought to have more time to assess potential environmental damages associated with the drilling.  The next step may be to take the issue to Ingham County Courts.

Open house in Chelsea draws dozens to learn about proposed natural gas pipeline  An open house was held in Chelsea to allow residents to get more information about a proposed pipeline that will run from Ohio to Canada through parts of Washtenaw, Lenawee, Livingston, Oakland, Macomb and St. Clair counties.  The Rover Pipeline project is scheduled to begin as early as January 2016.

Bailiwick’s Outdoors in Dexter offers apparel for adventure sports and fly fishing gear for enthusiasts It is great to see new businesses open that grow our own local “blue economy”.  A new river-based recreation shop has opened in Dexter.  If you have paddling, fishing, birding, hiking or equestrian needs, consider stopping by and supporting our friends at Bailiwicks.

Big Toxic Algal Bloom Again in Forecast for Lake Erie. As a reminder that we cannot assume that once a condition improves it will stay improved – Lake Erie’s algae bloom issues from the 1960’s and ‘70’s have returned in recent years.  This year is no exception.  Forecasts predict the algae bloom this summer could be one of the largest in the past decade. Phosphorus from fertilizers, sewage and industrial waste is the main culprit driving the blooms.

Plastic microbeads could be banned from personal care products in the U.S. by 2018  In a previous News to Us we shared an article about an emerging pollutant to our waterways. Plastic microbeads are used in many cosmetic and personal care products.  They make it through many wastewater treatment facilities and into our waters where they are ingested by wildlife and release known toxins. Look for products with natural alternatives such as almonds, sea salts and apricot pits. Legislation has been introduced at the federal level. Illinois is the first state to ban products with plastic microbeads.

News to Us

Winter scene in Fleming Creek

Winter scene in Fleming Creek

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.

Our Troubled Waters

A local stream shows signs of distress from upstream development

We’re making it easy for you to see where the water quality problems are in the watershed with a new interactive map. The map shows the lakes, ponds, streams and parts of the Huron River that do not meet Michigan Water Quality Standards. You can click on the water body to view its MDNRE listing. The listing will provide the impairment, pollutant, size of water body and TMDL schedule. Also, you can learn more about how MDNRE assesses the health of Michigan waters.

The Clean Water Act requires Michigan to assess the health of its water resources every two years as a means of conveying water quality protection and monitoring information to the EPA and Congress. In our watershed the most common pollutants found are excessive phosphorus, PCBs and mercury. However, pollutants such as E. coli, flow alterations, sedimentation/siltation, and dissolved oxygen warrant water bodies to be placed on the list.

Many of the projects that HRWC works on are focused on areas that have appeared on this list previously.

Check out the map here!


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