Deadline for state money to test beaches approaching

Capital News Service
LANSING —The state is offering $200,000 to help local agencies monitor water quality in inland lakes this summer. Localities and nonprofit groups have until Feb. 28 to apply for Department of Environmental Quality grants to measure levels of E.coli — a bacteria that can cause bloody diarrhea, severe anemia or kidney failure — off inland beaches, according to Shannon Briggs, a program director in DEQ’s Water Resources Division. Michigan is currently keeping watch on about 380 inland lakes, about half of the state’s total. Water quality data helps officials determine if a lake is safe for swimming.

Water quality a problem for rural areas, too

Capital News Service
LANSING — The state of water quality in Flint has been of high interest around Michigan and throughout the nation, but rural areas around the state are also struggling to provide safe drinking water. According to Michigan’s chapter of the Sierra Club, rural areas have been underinvesting in their water treatment needs at a higher rate than cities are. Mike Berkowitz, the legislative and political director for the Sierra Club, said ensuring that people in Michigan have safe drinking water and treatment facilities that operate the right way should be a top priority. “I think the fundamental solution, first of all, is fixing our state budget and making it more sustainable,” Berkowitz said. “We need to be making sure that we’re able to replace lead pipelines and other deleterious infrastructure in local communities throughout the state.

Wash, rinse, pollute, repeat


Capital News Service
LANSING — A new study shows that while we clean our clothes we dirty waterways like the Great Lakes. Every load of laundry produces microfibers, or tiny pieces of clothing that shed during washing. Wastewater treatment plants can’t break them down, so they end up in lakes, rivers and other bodies of water. Once they’re in the water, aquatic animals can mistake the fibers for food. And that’s not a good thing.

Conserving the Looking Glass River, a treasured resource for DeWitt

By Laina Stebbins
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter

DEWITT — The Looking Glass River has long been a boon to the city of DeWitt with its scenic views and abundant wildlife, not to mention the added opportunities it offers for activities such as kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. Its beauty and bounty does not come effortlessly, however. Resident Bob Bishop served as the communications director of one such local organization, Friends of the Looking Glass Watershed Council, Inc., until his retirement last fall. Friends of the Looking Glass (FLG for short) is a non-profit environmental action group that has been taking initiative to improve the river’s ecological health and water quality since 1990. “The Looking Glass is a really unique, picturesque stream,” said Bishop.

Proposal would add governor to FOIA

Capital News Service
LANSING – The Flint water crisis could give a boost to proposed changes to Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by adding the legislative branch and governor’s office to government bodies that must follow it. The changes, introduced by Sen. Coleman Young II, D-Detroit, are co-sponsored by 10 senators. Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act ensures that the public is entitled to full and complete information regarding governmental affairs. It excludes both the governor and the Legislature. In recent years, the act has not been immune to amendments.

Water quality, automated cars stir interest of Michigan voters

Capital News Service
LANSING — The controversy about elevated levels of lead in Flint’s drinking water has sparked significant concern about water quality across Michigan, a new statewide poll shows. More than 90 percent of those surveyed want the state to examine urban water systems for indications of faulty infrastructure and 84 percent want the state to test the water in public schools at least annually. Meanwhile on a second environmental issue, widespread publicity about autonomous cars has directed public attention to questions about the safety of driverless vehicles. Despite qualms about safety, however, a majority of those polled “accept that this will be how people get around in the near future,” according to a Nov. 3-5 telephone survey of 600 Michigan adults.

Beach closings down but pollution still murky

Capital News Service
LANSING – The number of closings or health safety advisories due to pollution at Michigan’s more than 1,200 public and nearly 500 private beaches has dropped the past three years. “Surface water quality is generally showing improvement where programs are in place to correct problems and restore water quality,” according to the 2014 Integrated Report for Water Quality and Pollution Control in Michigan by the state’s Department of Environmental Quality. But taking the long view, parts of the state’s coastal environment may not be as promising as they appear. “All our nearshore waters are at risk,” said Joan Rose, the director of the Water Quality and Environmental Microbiology Laboratory at Michigan State University. “No surprise, in urban areas things are more serious.”
Rose’s lab has studied cores of sediments from the bottom of Lake St.