Great Lakes

Satellite image of the Great Lakes

In 2017, President Trump proposed cutting $300 million for Great Lakes projects. That money stayed in the federal budget, but as a new year begins, environmental advocates have lots of concerns – including cuts to the EPA. 

Groups throughout the region plan to take the fate of the Great Lakes into their own hands in 2018. That means working with communities on climate change and collaborating to clean up polluted waters.

photo of algae bloom in Maumee Bay State Park

This year included a few threats to Great Lakes health -- an above average algae bloom and an Asian carp sighting. But a financial threat also loomed over the lakes this year.

The year kicked off with a lot of uncertainty; with a new president, it was unclear whether funding dedicated to the Great Lakes would continue. And by May, the Trump administration made its message clear by zeroing out the $300 million used to clean up pollution, restore wetlands and other projects.  His budget also would have cut funds for research and conservation in other agencies.

photo of Lake Erie public art exhibit in Public Square

On the Great Lakes, boat and ship traffic is slowing down for the winter.  Meanwhile, in Cleveland, residents have a chance to watch Lake Erie change as ice builds up -- and breaks up.

It’s part of an unusual public art exhibit called Waiting for a Break, by Ohio artist Julia Christensen. 

On a large screen downtown, six live video feeds show different spots along Lake Erie. One shows waves lapping over rocks, others show a remote island and a nearby bay.

Satellite image of the Great Lakes

Over the years, pollution has been seen as a big threat to fish in the Great Lakes. Now, a data scientist says that might not always be the case.

University of Minnesota research associate Katya Kovalenko examined data from lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron. And she plotted it on a map highlighting all the places hurt by human activity --- with problems like poor water quality, nitrogen and other pollutants.

Great Lakes Today

As America confronts the opioid crisis, environmental scientists are warning about a related problem. Chemicals from pain-killers and other drugs often end up in lakes and rivers, creating what some scientists say could be a deadly cocktail for fish and other wildlife.

“What we use in our everyday lives goes down the drain and ends up somewhere," says Emma Rosi, an aquatic ecosystem ecologist at the Cary Institute in New York.