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cyanobacteria

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, we hear about the plan for a unique “net-zero” community in Ann Arbor. Plus, dispelling the stereotype that Michigan wine can't compete on the world stage. 

Jeff Reutter / Ohio State University

Scientists have concluded it's going to be more difficult than they initially thought to reduce phosphorus loads into Lake Erie by 40%.

That's the target set by Great Lakes states.

Phosphorus is a crop fertilizer that also encourages cyanobacterial blooms. 

Rebecca Muenich worked on a study to evaluate ways to control the blooms. 

Meunich is a former researcher at the University of Michigan's Graham Sustainability Institute, and now an assistant professor at Arizona State University.

A cyanobacterial bloom on Lake Erie in 2013.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Researchers say the harmful cyanobacteria bloom on Lake Erie this past summer was the fifth largest since they began ranking them going back to 2002.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the bloom covered about 700 square miles by the end of August.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Dozens of water activists attended a conference in Flint Wednesday.

The conference examined the ongoing effects of lead, PFAS and other contaminants turning up in public drinking water supplies.

Bill Lovis stands to left of Inca mummy
Michigan State University

Today on Stateside, we hear about a lawsuit, filed by the Michigan Republican Party, that aims to block an independent commission from redrawing legislative maps. Plus, we talk about the tough ethical choices people face when trying to do something about climate change.

A view of sand dunes and Lake Michigan
Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, after resigning from his position as mayor of Ferndale, Democrat Dave Coulter has been sworn in to replace the late L. Brooks Patterson as Oakland County Executive. Plus, how are researchers working to address the problem of annual cyanobacterial blooms on Lake Erie?

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below. 

An aerial view of algae blooms in Lake Erie.
NOAA DERIVED IMAGE FROM EUMETSAT COPERNICUS SENTINEL-3A SATELLITE DAT / NOAA

 

It was this time five years ago that the city of Toledo placed a city-wide ban of tap water.

Lake Erie cyanobacterial bloom rapidly expanding

Aug 14, 2019
An aerial view of algae blooms in Lake Erie.
NOAA DERIVED IMAGE FROM EUMETSAT COPERNICUS SENTINEL-3A SATELLITE DAT / NOAA

The cyanobacterial bloom on Lake Erie has grown 20 miles in the past week. It now covers 620 square miles of Lake Erie, taking up about 6 percent of the entire lake and covering more area than Detroit and its suburbs. 

NOAA

Five years after half a million Toledo-area residents were told not to drink or touch their tap water for two days, the same thick green sludge responsible for the 2014 water crisis has now spread across 600 square miles of western Lake Erie.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Researchers predict a large cyanobacterial bloom in Lake Erie this year.

But it will probably not be as bad as 2011 and 2015, when the blooms covered a large area of western Lake Erie.

Credit: NOAA derived image from EUMETSAT Copernicus Sentinel-3a satellite dat / NOAA

The state of Ohio has stepped into a court battle over whether Lake Erie has legal rights. 

In February, Toledo voters approved the charter amendment by a large margin. The amendment claims city residents have the legal right to protect Lake Erie.

Toledo lies on the shore of the western part of the lake, which is plagued with cyanobacterial blooms, largely caused by fertilizer runoff from farms. In 2014, the city of Toledo briefly shut down its water system, after its Lake Erie water intake was surrounded by a bloom of toxic cyanobacterial.

EPA shares new cyanotoxin recommendations

May 24, 2019
Jeff Reutter / Ohio State University

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it wants to keep Americans safe while swimming. So it's announced new recommendations for two cyanotoxins in recreational bodies of water. 

Cyanotoxins are produced by bacteria blooms that have become increasingly common in places like western Lake Erie. Exposure to them at unsafe amounts can cause upset stomachs and liver and kidney damage.

A side-angle view of a boat cutting through green-tinged water
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Experts say heavy rains this spring make it more likely western Lake Erie will see another significant bloom of toxic cyanobacteria later this year.

The bloom's size will ultimately depend on rainfall amounts from now through early summer.

Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have issued their first forecast of the year for the lake. They're projecting the bloom will be more severe than last year, which saw a relatively mild outbreak.

Stefania and Mirek Czech
Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Toledo voters have approved a charter amendment giving Lake Erie legal rights by a large margin, 9,867 to 6,211. 

Turnout in the special election, which also included a referendum on whether to keep the city's jail downtown, was 8.9% of registered voters.

The charter amendment purports to allow any city resident to sue to protect the lake.  

NOAA, GLERL

Toledo voters will go to the polls on Tuesday to decide the fate of the Lake Erie Bill of Rights referendum.

The referendum would amend Toledo's city charter to give the lake rights, including the right to exist and flourish, and allow any Toledo resident to legally advocate on its behalf.

NOAA, GLERL

A new study from the University of Michigan shows that blooms of harmful cyanobacteria in Lake Erie are so tough they can survive the winter.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Four years ago, the city of Toledo told more than 450,000 residents to immediately stop drinking water out of the tap. 

That's after a toxin called microcystin was detected in the water. The toxin came from a bloom of cyanobacteria that had surrounded the city's water intake in Lake Erie. 

The incident caused panic among some residents, hoarding of water, even fights at bottled water distribution sites - along with a lot of unwanted national media attention.

And it taught the city some hard lessons.

What happens to the water Toledo takes from Lake Erie

Municipal water treatment is a painstaking and complicated process.

Issues & Ale: Seeing Green in Lake Erie
Mon, August 20, 6:30-8:00 PM

Black Cloister Brewing Company
619 Monroe St, Toledo, OH 43604

In the summer of 2014, toxic bacteria in Lake Erie forced some 400,000 people in the Toledo area (including several communities in southeast Michigan) to stop bathing in or drinking their tap water. Although the past few years have not been as bad, farm runoff and other factors have led to toxic cyanobacteria blooms in western Lake Erie every summer since then. Will voluntary farm restrictions be enough to solve this problem and if not, what else needs to be done?

green liquid in petri dish
Danny Ducat

Look around you. Chances are – wherever you are – you can see something that’s plastic.

Credit: NOAA derived image from EUMETSAT Copernicus Sentinel-3a satellite dat / NOAA

Researchers with Ohio Sea Grant and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) say cyanobacterial blooms in Lake Erie will likely be smaller than last year.

The forecast relies on satellite imaging and computer models to predict the toxic blooms every summer. 

Christopher Winslow, Director of the Ohio Sea Grant College Program, says this summer's prediction is about 6 on a scale of 10. 

Bill Braunlich

What happens if your dog likes to swim in the lake, but there might be toxins in the water?

It can happen in a local lake or somewhere like the western basin of Lake Erie. Toxin-producing cyanobacteria appear. Some people still call it blue-green algae.

cmh2315fl / FLICKR - HTTP//J.MP/1SPGCL0

The city of Toledo, Ohio and its suburbs are arguing about how to properly charge for water. The disagreement stems from the 2014 toxic cyanobacteria bloom in Lake Erie that shut down of the city's water system.

Sarah Elms, a reporter with The Toledo Blade, joined Stateside to explain what's happening. 

This photo of Microcystis, a kind of cyanobacteria, was taken in Lake Erie.
Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

We’re coming up on the time of year when people will be testing lakes for toxic blooms of cyanobacteria.

Jason Deglint wants to speed up that testing process. Right now, he says it can take at least a few days.

Are farmers' profits more important than our water?

May 1, 2018
An aerial view of algae blooms in Lake Erie.
NOAA DERIVED IMAGE FROM EUMETSAT COPERNICUS SENTINEL-3A SATELLITE DAT / NOAA

Last week, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency announced that efforts to decrease those potentially toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie aren’t working. When I read that, let’s say I wasn’t exactly surprised. I moderated a large forum on this subject in Tontogany, Ohio last year.

The Ford Taurus at an auto show
Dave Pinter / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Ford this week announced plans to stop making almost its entire line-up of cars by 2022. That means we can say farewell to the Fiesta, the Taurus, the Focus, the Fusion, and the C-Max hybrid. Only Ford's iconic Mustang and a small crossover will remain in production in the North American market. 

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss Ford's decision to focus on its better-selling lines of trucks and SUVs, and whether GM might follow suit.

NOAA, GLERL

A new report from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency says that despite billions spent in the Lake Erie watershed to improve water quality, there has been no clear trend of reducing phosphorus levels in the state’s watersheds.

 

Runoff of nutrients, mainly phosphorous, from agriculture have been blamed for a series of toxic cyanobacteria blooms in Lake Erie. Ohio has spent more than $3 billion to improve the Lake Erie watershed since 2011.

 

The Great Lakes, the budget, and you

Mar 26, 2018
satellite map of Michigan, the Great Lakes
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Congress passed a budget that gets us through the summer, Donald Trump has signed it, and it contains good news for all of us. For one thing, it means we have again dodged a government shutdown, at least till September.

For another, for the second year in a row, Congress has mostly reversed all the bad things the Trump administration wanted to do to Michigan. That would have included eliminating funds to protect the nation’s most important source of fresh water, a $300 million dollar program called the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

A cyanobacterial bloom on Lake Erie in 2013.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

An advisory board with the International Joint Commission says the U.S. and Canada should do more to keep nutrient pollution out of Lake Erie.

Waves on Lake Michigan.
Nathaniel May / UM

Scientists have found organic matter from toxic blooms in the Great Lakes can get airborne.

Andrew Ault is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan, in the departments of environmental health sciences and chemistry. He’s an author of a new study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

“Anytime a wave breaks on the ocean or in a lake, you push bubbles below the surface. When those come up, they burst and that bursting process essentially, ends up leading to aerosols being formed,” he says.

NOAA

 A new report finds governments are not making “sufficient progress” toward insuring the “drinkability, swimmability and fishability of the Great Lakes.”

The report, entitled the First Triennial Assessment of Progress on the Great Lakes, comes from the International Joint Commission, or IJC.   The IJC is a bi-national organization created under the Boundary Water Treaty of 1909.

The triennial assessment released today was required under a 2012 agreement.

The report finds not enough progress in reducing pollutants, including phosphorus which is creating cyanobacteria blooms in Lake Erie.  A bloom three years ago forced Toledo to shut off its water for two days.

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