Bridge Magazine is committed to sharing the best environmental journalism in and around Michigan, an effort called #EnviroReads.
In Bridge’s Michigan Environment Watch, we share a roundup of recent stories on the Great Lakes or other issues. If you see a story we should include next time, use the hashtag #EnviroReads on Twitter or email Environmental Reporter Jim Malewitz at email@example.com.
“Ice fishing is a beloved pastime, a multi-million- dollar business, and cultural identifier for communities across the northern U.S. In any given year, more than 1.5 million people go out on the ice, and thousands of families gather around a meal of fish pulled out of icy water only hours earlier,” reports Alejandra Borunda, alongside stunning photographs from Amy Sacka. “But as winters warm, ice culture has to reckon with something trickier to navigate than choosing the right lure or picking the best spot on the ice: a changing climate that may endanger the experience of winter itself.”
American Public Media/ Great Lakes Today
“Americans are struggling to afford their rising water bills, and thousands of poor families have had their service shut off. This growing crisis has a dark irony: It's especially acute in a region where water is most abundant — the Great Lakes,” Maria Zamudio and Will Craft report.
“Once just thought of as heating fuel for Midwestern homes, natural gas stepped up and played a larger role by helping stabilize the power grid during [the recent] deep freeze,” Jeffrey Tomich and Hannah Northey report. “...To be sure, coal is still king of the Midwestern grid, and less-efficient coal plants that rarely run during winter were pressed into service last week as coal plant output reached 41 GW. But like an aging running back who can no longer carry every down, [the recent] Arctic blast showed that the region's coal fleet isn't the workhorse it once was.”
More than 50 homes in Benton Harbor registered lead levels above 15 parts per billion in the drinking water, the federal standard health experts say is inadequate to protect public health, Dustin Dwyer reports. "Benton Harbor is not the only city in Michigan where elevated lead levels showed up in the drinking water in 2018. Hamtramck, Parchment, and the village of Lawrence all exceeded the EPA action level for lead in drinking water last year, according to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality."
Detroit Free Press
“Contaminated dirt was potentially used to fill demolition sites across Detroit and is the focus of a widening federal criminal probe of the city's demolition program, multiple sources familiar with the investigation told the Free Press,” Kat Stafford reports. “The Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program is also probing whether some companies used free dirt obtained from a variety of unverified sources— including the I-96 freeway construction project — and then passed it off as an approved residential dirt source before billing the federally-funded Detroit Land Bank Authority demolition program for materials they never actually paid for.”
“The Secretary of the Air Force has told U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., that it will be “proactive” in cleaning up toxic PFAS contamination at a former base in northern Michigan where the chemicals are polluting drinking water and the environment,” Garret Ellison, reports. “This week’s letter was in reply to Peters, who rebuked the Air Force last week for taking an “aggressive and defensive posture” with the state of Michigan related to its compliance with state laws limiting the amount of PFAS entering surface water bodies.”
Great Lakes Echo
“With the longest government shutdown in history behind them and the threat of another looming February 15, Great Lakes researchers are scrambling to catch up on their work and worried that yet another wrench will be thrown into it,” Andrew Blok reports.