In the News: Glitch delays carp wall opening

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Chicago - Officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said a few weeks ago they would turn on their new electric carp barrier by the end of the month, but the agency scrapped those plans Wednesday because of unforeseen maintenance issues on a largely unused contraption that is now nearly three years old.

The barrier on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal was completed in the spring of 2006, but the Army Corps and the U.S. Coast Guard have been wrestling since then over safety issues tied to electrifying a waterway that is heavily used by barges, some of which carry flammable materials.

After years of tests and safety measures that have totaled about $1 million, both agencies say they are now satisfied the barrier can be activated without posing an unreasonable risk to boaters.

The barrier is considered the best hope to keep the oversized Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes, but it won't be turned on until engineers can replace a set of defective cooling pipes.

Installing new pipes is expected to take a couple of months, and the hope is that the $9 million device will be turned on sometime in mid to late March.

In the meantime, a nearby smaller and weaker "demonstration barrier" that was built in 2002 will remain the only defense for the Great Lakes. Read more.

For more information about the threat of Asian carp to the Great Lakes and efforts to stop them, such as the barrier, visit the Illinois Aquatic Invasive Species Program website.

Today is Our Blog Inauguration Day!

In this inauguration season, IISG presents a newly-designed program web site with a new address and a newly-minted blog. IISG’s web site can now be found at www.iiseagrant.org. The blog, called Lakeside Views, can be found at lakesideviews.blogspot.com.

The new IISG web site is designed to make information about the program’s many coastal and water-related initiatives more accessible. “We fund research and develop outreach and education programs related to a number of Great Lakes issues,” said Lisa Merrifield, IISG assistant director. “Now, on our website, you can go right to a topic of interest and learn more about these efforts.”

The products section of the new site is organized to provide easy access to information and images of many IISG products. Some are available for purchase, but many publications can be downloaded.

The new blog provides another outlet for news about Great Lakes issues as well as the program. “Lakeside Views provides us an opportunity to share more information and do it quicker,” added Merrifield.


In the News: Climate Change Largely Irreversible For Next 1,000 Years, NOAA Reports

From Science Daily:
A new scientific study led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reaches a powerful conclusion about the climate change caused by future increases of carbon dioxide: to a large extent, there’s no going back. Read more.

The Great Lakes Are Alive in Online Teacher Workshop

Teachers and scientists alike can benefit from COSEE Great Lakes latest online workshop— “Great Lakes Alive!”—which will take place February 15-27.

The workshop is free and is targeted for formal and nonformal educators who teach about the Great Lakes or the life sciences. However, all teachers, as well as scientists, are invited to participate. The workshop material is most applicable for grades 4-10.

COSEE (Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence) offers six presentations—one posted every other day—focusing on living resources in the Great Lakes. “The size, depth, and quality of the Great Lakes make it a unique ecosystem,” said workshop coordinator Bruce Munson of the University of Minnesota Duluth. “Since COSEE Great Lakes works closely with many scientific organizations studying the biology of the Great Lakes, we can bring current science and access to scientists in that field directly to teachers and their students.”

Each presentation is created by a university scientist in the Great Lakes region and includes an introduction, a narrated PowerPoint presentation, and suggested classroom resources. Participants also, through dynamic conversations on the workshop’s discussion board, get practical tips and classroom applications from one another, as well as the presenters, who will be available for questions the following day their presentation is posted.

Once the presentations and related classroom materials are posted, they are archived and available for use at any time, even after the workshop.

Teachers may elect to receive a certificate of participation at the end of the workshop and may obtain one graduate credit. Graduate credit will cost $85 payable to the University of Minnesota Duluth.

To register or for more information visit www.coexploration.org/coseegreatlakes.


In the News: Chicago-area wetland mitigation banks are bogged down

From the Chicago Tribune:
Wetland banking, which got its start locally in St. Charles, was thriving amid an explosion of suburban growth over the last two decades. But as the economy, particularly the housing market, has collapsed, wetland banking has largely dried up. Read more.


IISG Announces New Assistant Director

IISG announces that as of the new year, Lisa Merrifield is the program’s assistant director. Merrifield, who has been with the program since 2000, has been IISG’s program coordinator. In her new position, she works alongside Brian Miller, IISG director, on special projects and operational activities. She coordinates strategic planning and annual reporting for IISG, oversees daily operations of the program on the University of Illinois campus and serves as the primary liaison between IISG and Illinois Water Resources Center.


Funding, Fellowships, and Workshops


Graduate students from all disciplines with an interest in water policy are sought for a one year fellowship in Washington DC. For more information, visit Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant's fellowship page. Applications are due February 20.


USGS's National Institutes for Water Resources seek proposals for work related to water supply and availability including new sources and supplies, improvements of impaired waters to usable quality, conservation of existing sources, and limiting growth in demand. Proposals are due February 20. More information is available here.


The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) will be holding a one-day workshop "Communicating Science: Tools for Scientists and Engineers" on Thursday, February 12, 2009 at the "Hyatt Regency Chicago" Hotel in Chicago, IL. We are extending an invitation to the faculty scientists, engineers, and Ph.D. students at your institution who would like to attend this workshop, in order to learn more about communicating science to news media and the general public, as well as the broader impacts requirement for NSF-funded research. For more information go here.


IISG in the News: Students Develop Medication Recycling Program

In Pontiac, Illinois, a new approach to collecting unwanted medicines--developed by high school students--is up and running. According to a news story and news video on OzarksFirst.com:
It's called the prescription drug disposal program, or P2D2. People drop off unused drugs at participating pharmacies. Then they're shipped to an incinerator where they're turned back into energy.

The students used the IISG toolkit as they developed their program. IISG also helped pay for the billboard designed to raise awareness on this issue. Program specialists are also working closely with Paul Ritter and Eric Bohm, the teachers behind this project, to promote related curriculum. IISG continues to partner with P2D2 to educate the Great Lakes states and beyond on the proper disposal of unwanted medicines.

For more info, visit our Safe Disposal of Unwanted Medicine page on the IISG site, or go to the P2D2 site.

IISG in the News: River Contamination Toxic to Property Values

IAGLR, or the International Association of Great Lakes Research, has published a press release that describes a recent IISG-funded study that documents that a contaminated river can diminish nearby property values.

From an article in the latest IISG newsletter, the HELM:

Using hedonic analysis of property sales, John Braden of the University of Illinois found that for owner-occupied homes within a five-mile radius of the Sheboygan River Area of Concern (in Wisconsin), the overall estimated loss of value is $158 million, which translates into an 8 percent discount, on average. “The impacts are greatest for properties closest to the river and concentrated in the more populated areas nearest the lower river,” he said.

From the IAGLR press release:

Hazardous waste found in sediment is one of the chief reasons why 40 locations in the Great Lakes Basin are on an environmental watch list maintained by the International Joint Commission. According to Braden ..., "the cost of cleanup at the U.S. sites alone could exceed $4 billion, but it's not clear whether cleanup would produce comparable economic benefits. These studies provide insight into the economic benefits at stake near the Buffalo River in New York and the Sheboygan River in Wisconsin."

The results of these studies, "Economic Benefits of Remediating the Buffalo River, NY Area of Concern" and "Economic Benefits of Remediating the Sheboygan River, WI Area of Concern," are reported by John B. Braden and colleagues in the latest issue (Volume 34, No 4, pp. 631-648 and pp. 649-660) of the Journal of Great Lakes Research, published by the International Association for Great Lakes Research, 2008.

What is Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant?

These are trying times for the environment. With climate change upon us, as well as a host of other concerns, such as population growth, invasive aquatic species, contaminated waters, and loss of natural habitat, the southern Lake Michigan region faces many challenges. Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG), with its unique mandate to bring the latest science to those who can best use the information, serves a critical role in empowering people to solve problems in sustainable ways.

One of more than 30 Sea Grant programs in the U.S., IISG is focused on southern Lake Michigan and Great Lakes concerns. The program is funded through NOAA, the University of Illinois, and Purdue University, but IISG also works in partnerships with key organizations, institutions, and agencies in the region to reach more audiences and multiply opportunities for success. IISG brings together scientists, educators, policy makers, community decision makers, outreach specialists, business leaders, and the general public to work towards a healthy environment and economy.