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Great Lakes water levels: How did April's rain raise Lake Michigan and Huron, and what is the forecast?

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The heavy rainfall in April did have a dramatic effect on the water level of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reports that the average level of Lake Michigan-Huron rose 5.16 inches from March to April.

That five inch rise is greater than the entire seasonal rise last year. Last year Lake Michigan-Huron only rose four inches from March to July.  more...



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U.S. Senate could free up money for Great Lakes dredging

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The U.S. Senate may be closing in on legislation that could increase funding for dredging at harbors across the Great Lakes and the nation by freeing up more money from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.

As the Free Press reported in March, the fund, which is paid for by taxes on the value of imported cargo, has built up a surplus of about $6 billion, even though the Army Corps of Engineers has a growing backlog of dredging projects.

That’s especially true along the Great Lakes, where there’s a backlog of about $200 million in dredging projects spread across 60 federally maintained harbors and channels, almost half of which are in Michigan.  more...



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Cootes Paradise and other marshes benefit from Great Lakes low water levels

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Cootes Paradise hasn't had a massive regeneration since the '50s, the RBG's Tys Thysmeyer said.Low water levels in the Great Lakes are good news for marsh and wetlands like Hamilton's Cootes Paradise.

“It's a very good thing,” said Tys Thysmeyer, head of conservation at the Royal Botanical Gardens. “The wetlands around the shores do major regeneration of their reeds, things like cattails, when the water is low so they can generate from seed.”  more...



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Big melt causes sewage overflow into Lake Superior

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Spring runoff has caused an overflow of untreated sewage and water from Washburn’s treatment plant reservoir into Chequamegon Bay.

Washburn City Administrator Scott Kluver said the city’s wastewater treatment plant has reached its limit, and the excess water is flowing into the holding reservoir. Normally, the excess in the reservoir would be treated after water levels go down. But runoff from the weekend’s warmer temperatures caused the reservoir to overflow for nearly four hours.

“Basically, what is happening is (that) because of the rapid snow melt, we have a large amount of water that is reaching into the sewer system,” Kluver said. “And so our flows that are entering the plant are triple or quadruple what they normally are.”  more...



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Low water is high time to plant beaches

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Native plants add structure, color and interest to an otherwise boring lawn. Gardens ease the transition between the house and beach, slow runoff and filter pollutants. Photo: Jim Brueck, Native Lakescapes, LLC.What makes a pretty Great Lakes shoreline?

As lake levels drop and grasses and other plants sprout on once plant-free beaches, ecologists are encouraging waterfront property owners to see the splendor in that greenery.

“It’s important to try to get people to change their minds and see just how beautiful and wonderful native vegetation can be,” said Jennifer Gelb, restoration ecologist for the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, a nonprofit organization that serves four counties in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula. more...



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Thousands of King Salmon to be Released into Lake Ontario

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More signs of spring in Orleans County as Lake Breeze Marina prepared more than 100,000 king salmon to be released into Lake Ontario.

In an effort to improve end of the season fishing, charter boat captains met on Wednesday to put 106,000 king salmon into pens to later be released into Lake Ontario.

"We are working in conjunction with the DEC to promote imprinting of our salmon into the Oak Orchard River," said Bob Songin, Charter Captain. "By doing that, we are stocking the fish in holding pens and we keep them in the river for three-to four weeks, taking care of them feeding them five times a day. Once they have imprinted, we take them out to the lake."   more...


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Plan aims to stabilize Lake Superior water levels

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imageLake Superior won’t be robbed to help boost water levels for Lakes Michigan and Huron, even under a new water-level management plan that goes into effect later this year.

That was the word Monday from officials of the International Joint Commission, a Canada-U.S. board that has authority to regulate water levels and resolve water use disputes on the Great Lakes.  more...



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Study indicates Asian carp may already be in Great Lakes

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Photo: kate.gardiner via Flickr.A new study released in April finds Asian carp may in fact be reaching the Great Lakes.  The Asian carp is an invasive species with an appetite large enough to potentially decimate the food chain ecosystem of the Great Lakes.  There have been many efforts to contain the spread of the fish in the Chicago Area Waterway System to connects to Lake Michigan.  The study now raises new questions about the effectiveness of that system.
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Sand removal protect U.P.’s coaster brook trout

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Coaster brook trout. Photo: Casey Huckins, Michigan Technological UniversityRemoving sand from the Salmon Trout River in Marquette County has helped protect the spawning sites of coaster brook trout, according to researchers.

A sand collector was installed upstream last spring to intercept sediment before it reached the endangered trout’s spawning habitat, according to a report from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Marquette Fisheries Research Station.

The machine pumps sand out of the river, preventing it from covering stream-bottom rocks where the majority of coasters spawn.  more...



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Record-breaking storms add two inches to Lakes Michigan and Huron

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Recent storms are improving the low water levels in the Great Lakes, at least a little.

Lakes Michigan and Huron hit record low levels this winter.

(See National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Great Lakes Water Level Dashboard for a look at Great Lakes levels in historical context.)

Ships are carrying less cargo, and boaters have had trouble getting in and out of harbors. To help with the low lake levels, the state started emergency dredging projects for some harbors. And experts say the recent storms are also helping a little.  more...



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Lake Ontario water levels cause concern

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The water levels in Lake Ontario have a significant impact on the economic and environmental viability of harbors in upstate New York and Canada. As a result, a proposed plan to change the management of those water levels has raised some concerns in waterfront communities.

The International Joint Commission (IJC) regulates the water levels on the lake, and for years they’ve argued that the priorities have swung in one direction.  more...



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Losing wetlands: The sinking of Minnesota's protections

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marsh photo

Wetlands are valued for maintaining and improving water quality, providing wildlife habitat, reducing run-off while retaining floodwaters, reducing stream sedimentation, conserving surface waters and subsurface moisture, helping moderate climate change, and enhancing the natural beauty of the landscape. Most of Minnesota has given up its pre-settlement wetlands in exchange for urban development and agriculture. According to existing records, the northeast corner of Minnesota has retained 80 percent or more of its pre-settlement wetlands, although many wetlands were destroyed by logging and mining before being documented.  more...


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Ontario vows to fix Stephen Harper’s Experimental Lakes Area mistake

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Those interested in the protection of the environment, the advancement of scientific knowledge or the practice of good government got a bit of welcome news last week. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne vowed to help undo one of the federal government’s most bewildering recent initiatives, the planned closure of the Experimental Lakes Areamore...

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Renowned experimental lakes research area to remain open this year

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ELA kept open Experimental Lakes AreaOntario has found common ground with the federal government and Manitoba to keep a world-famous experimental research area open in the northwestern part of the province, Premier Kathleen Wynne said Wednesday."I think it's an important scientific endeavour and I don't believe that either provincially, regionally, or nationally and internationally we can afford to let it go," Wynne said.The remote region of 58 pristine lakes has been used since 1968 for fundamental freshwater studies, Wynne said. It employs 17 people and collaborates with about 115 students.  more...


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Huge ‘green’ parking lot will reduce Lake St. Clair pollution

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For two decades, Macomb County officials wrestled with the pollution problems plaguing Lake St. Clair and have concluded that a major cause of the foul waters is the rainwater that runs off of streets and parking lots into the lake.

Yet, the largest parking lot in Macomb County, located within a few 100 feet of the lake, never received attention.

Until now. more...


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