Heavier storms threaten states ageing drains

Capital News Service
LANSING — While people in Florida gear up for more intense hurricanes, Michigan officials are bracing for heavier rainfall caused by global warming ,and that threatens the state’s aging drains and the Great Lakes. Local drain commissioners are questioning how to handle the influx of water and the problems it brings. And more intense, heavier rainfall has become more prevalent in Michigan, said Joan Rose, an international expert in water microbiology, quality and public health at Michigan State University. That causes trouble not only for the state’s old drainage systems and its water sources but for animal and human health, she said. “When it rains, the water moves contaminants quite broadly,” Rose said.

Lake fish, even with some mercury, good for your health

Capital News Service
LANSING — Eating Great Lakes fish that contain mercury may threaten your health, but the nutritional benefits may outweigh the risks, according to a new study of lake trout and lake whitefish consumption by members of Native American tribes with high rates of obesity, diabetes and other diseases. “Great Lakes fish should be considered for their nutritional importance relative to contemporary options, even when adjusting for risks of mercury toxicity,” according to the researchers from the Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority’s Inter-Tribal Fisheries and Assessment Program in Sault Ste. Marie and the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. The findings come from the assessment program’s 25 years of studies of whitefish and lake trout from lakes Huron, Superior and Michigan. Authority members come from five Ottawa and Ojibwa tribes — known collectively as the Anishinaabe– in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Lower Peninsula and represent fisheries’ interests.

Small watercraft account for many distress calls

Capital News Service
LANSING — Although a number of water rescues and searches in Lake Michigan have made headlines this year, the turbulence of the waters has been average, a weather official said. Citing the number of small craft advisories issued this year compared to years past, Lake Michigan hasn’t been more hazardous, said Bob Dukesherer, marine program manager for the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids. But that doesn’t mean Lake Michigan has been calm. “I don’t think there’s any increase in bad weather,” Dukesherer said. “People get in trouble because it’s a giant lake and we deal with quite a bit of rough weather through the Midwest.

Michigan farm officials oppose federal authority expansion over water

Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan farm officials are fighting an attempt by the federal Environmental Protection agency to regulate small bodies of water, saying that a new permit process would make construction and farming more expensive and time-consuming. It would affect “anyone who puts a shovel in the ground,” said Laura Campbell, manager of the Michigan Farm Bureau’s agricultural ecology department. Farmers will need more permits approved by the EPA for things like nutrient applications, basic pest control and adapting new land for farming, she said. EPA is suggesting new rules under the Clean Water Act that would give it jurisdiction over more bodies of water. That includes water that could run into a stream that is already under its jurisdiction and areas that are only wet during flood seasons.

Woodsman, place that limb under water in a pond or a lake

Capital News Service
LANSING – Low lake levels and wood loss are causing some fish to binge until they run out of food, according to recent research. Jereme Gaeta, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studied the relationship between bass and perch, predator and prey, as dropping water levels altered the habitat offered by submerged trees and wood. Fallen trees and wood create a coarse woody habitat submerged in lakes. “Woody habitat is great for many species of fish in terms of foraging for food,” Gaeta said. “It’s a place for algae to grow and bugs to live.”
Trees in lakes can also provide shelter.

Pull down lake breakwalls to stop erosion, DEQ says

Capital News Service
LANSING – Environmental experts are urging property owners to get rid of lakefront lawns and stone breakwalls in favor of a new approach to landscaping. Lakescaping is a way to control shoreline erosion by moving inland lakes to a more natural state. According to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), replacing traditional sod lakefronts with native plants can also combat invasive species, improve wildlife habitats and save property owners money on upkeep. “When dealing with lakes, it’s important to have as minimal an impact as possible,” said John Skubinna of the DEQ’s water resources division. While property owners may be reluctant to obstruct lake views with tall vegetation, protecting lakes should trump aesthetic concerns, said Skubinna.