Hank Bailey of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians fishes in the Boardman River.

Tribal elder raises river restoration awareness

When the Brown Bridge Dam was being removed from the Boardman River tribal Hank Bailey of the  Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians feared that people would die because of damage caused by its removal. Six years later, he wants young people to develop the same kind of love he holds for the Boardman River, for the outdoors and for Mother Earth and “think about it daily in their lives so that it becomes that important.”

Tawny Miller of River Outfitters in Traverse City by the Boardman River. Credit: Naina Rao.

Newcomer advocates for river restoration

Tawny Hammond, a long-time visitor and recent transplant to Traverse City, says dam removals and river restoration will benefit the local outfitting business that she helps run and that rents kayaks, canoes and paddle boards. “People would be able to paddle down the river unencumbered without any portages. I think it’s going to be beautiful,” she says.

Michigan schools may soon be required to test water for lead

Michigan lawmakers may soon require schools and other facilities to regularly test their water for lead and other harmful contaminants. The House Natural Resources Committee heard testimony on a series of proposed bills that would require yearly testing at both public and private schools, including colleges and universities, child care centers, hospitals and veteran centers. House Bills 4120, 4372 and 4378 each focus on specific areas of education. All three bills have sat in the House for over a year, some going back as far as January 31, 2017.  Recently, there has been an increase in the support of the bills from both sides of the aisle. Committee Chairman Rep. Gary Howell, R-North Branch, voiced his support for the bills, and added that he can’t imagine there will be much resistance.

Invasive quaggas carpet Lake Michigan bottom, scientists say

By KATE HABREL
Capital News Service
LANSING — Scientists using GoPro cameras in Lake Michigan have found the lakebed coated in invasive quagga mussels. The GoPros are attached to a small dredge used to sample the lakebed in what’s called a “grab.” Called a Ponar dredge – the device has long been used to research lake bottoms. It takes a scoop of sand, mud and mussels for analysis. The addition of the camera helps guide the grab. “The mussels get more sparse as you get deeper, but it’s like a continuous carpet across the lake,” said Ashley Elgin, a benthic ecologist at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. “It’s not just this one patch where you dropped your camera down.

Fate of Michigan rivers, Chinese soybeans tied to emerging research concept

By LAUREN CARAMAGNO
Capital News Service
LANSING — What do Chinese soybean farmers have in common with the health of Michigan’s rivers? While their relationship may not seem obvious, both are now studied through an emerging concept in scientific research called telecoupling. That’s when researchers connect the science of human behavior with the study of ecology to better understand how the world is connected. It’s a technique that can help experts predict future natural disasters and environmental needs. “This is a novel way of approaching problems in which humans and environment in one area are connected to humans and environment in another area,” said Anna Herzberger, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University.

Drink up? Depends on where you live

By BAILEY LASKE
Capital News Service
LANSING – If you’re thinking of moving in Michigan and worry about water quality, finding the perfect area might be harder than you think. Because of  a wide variety of contaminants, pinpointing one area that has the cleanest drinking water or the worst drinking water isn’t an easy task.  
“It’s hard to say where the most issues are. There are different issues in different communities around the state,” said Sean McBrearty, a program organizer at Clean Water Action, an advocacy group.. Lead receives the most headlines but Michigan’s main drinking water contaminants include arsenic, nitrate, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and lead.

Old specimen provides new insight into invasive algae

By ERIC FREEDMAN
Capital News Service
LANSING — Some aggressively stealthy invaders may be more aggressively stealthy than we thought. Consider the starry stonewort, a green alga from Eurasia that now thrives in many inland lakes in Michigan and that can outcompete native plants. Its first documented discovery in North America was in New York in 1978 — or so scientists believed. Then through a combination of old-school and new-school technologies they discovered that earlier samples had been collected from the St. Lawrence River in Quebec, possibly in 1974 but maybe even earlier, a new study says.

State wants lead out of all pipes in 20 years

By KALEY FECH
Capital News Service
LANSING — The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has proposed replacing all lead water pipes in the state within the next 20 years. “The new rules would require [municipalities] to start removing lead service lines at an average rate of 5 percent per year, which would get us to 100 percent over 20 years,” said Eric Oswald, director of DEQ’s Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance Division. The rules would also reduce the acceptable level of lead in drinking water from 15 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion, Oswald said. But the main objective of the changes is to get lead out of drinking water. That has always been a goal, Oswald said, but it picked up steam when Flint’s water crisis brought lead in drinking water to the national stage.

Proposed bill would prevent creation of rules more strict than federal regulations

By KALEY FECH
Capital News Service
LANSING – Some Republican  lawmakers want to prevent state departments from creating rules that are tougher than federal regulations. They’re backing a bill that would allow only the Legislature to do that unless there are exceptional circumstances. The bill, introduced by Rep. Triston Cole, R-Mancelona, would encompass rules that would regulate sectors as diverse as business, the environment and manufacturing. “This is a good bill with a good purpose,” said Jason Geer, the director of energy and environmental policy for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. “It will help ensure Michigan is not overregulated.”
It’s the third time in six years that the legislation has been pushed.