The HELM--hot off the press

You can find the new issue of the HELM, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s newsletter, here.

Here are headlines from this issue:

Strategies for water conservation: Is the price right?

• Wingspread Accord expands its reach

• Restoration master plans build on community clean ups

• SOLEC spotlights Great Lakes nearshore conditions

• Invasive hydroid may strain food source of young fish


Great Lakes boaters learn about unwanted medicine disposal

From Dave Kelch, Ohio Sea Grant:
The Cleveland Mid-America Boating and Fishing Show, was held at the Cleveland I-X Center from January 15-24, 2010. Over 75,000 individuals attend this event from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana and other states within the region.

Information on safe disposal of unwanted medicines was part of our exhibit this year, and included IISG’s poster, brochures, and pills boxes. We printed 600 copies of the brochure, and ran out of them on Saturday, January 23. The pillboxes were also all given out by the 23rd. We estimate that, during the course of the show, at least 5000 individuals visited our display, learning more about issues and concerns facing the Great Lakes.

We know that at least 600 people became more educated about disposal of unwanted medicines due to the brochures and pill boxes, which were distributed during the show.

We had many individuals asking about disposal of unwanted medicines. We did not physically count each contact made, yet we know it was into the hundreds of one-on-one discussions.

We have another large event upcoming February 11-14, 2010, the Cleveland Sport, Vacation and Travel Show, to be held at the Great Lakes Expo Center on Babbitt Road in Euclid, Ohio, outside of Cleveland. We expect over 50,000 people at this four-day event, as it is one of the most popular in the area. In addition to displaying our other projects, we will be distributing information on disposal of unwanted medicines.


In the news: Cleaner river = global warming?

From the Chicago Tribune:
Chicago is the only major U.S. city that doesn't disinfect its sewage, and the agency that treats its wastewater has a new reason for opposing the idea:

It's bad for the environment.

Engineers with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago recently completed an in-house study of its carbon footprint at the request of the elected board of commissioners. Going beyond the assignment, they also decided to look at how the footprint would change if it had to kill bacteria in sewage before pouring it into the Chicago River.

Starting to disinfect the wastewater — a change the 120-year-old agency has long opposed — would bolster the district's greenhouse gas emissions and thereby cause more bad than good, they concluded. Read more.


In the news: Asian carp offer opportunity for entrepreneurs

From the Washington Post:
The Asian carp many fear could destroy the Great Lakes' $7 billion-a-year fishing industry make up half of Mike Schafer's business, which in just over a year has turned 12 million pounds of the invasive fish into everything from fillets to fertilizer.

Schafer and entrepreneurs like him advocate aggressive fishing of Asian carp as a way to make money and save the Great Lakes, where environmentalists fear the voracious fish would starve native species by consuming their food. But several of them say such efforts can't get going without government help, and that's been in short supply as states face budget problems. Read more.


In the news: Supreme Court turns down Asian carp remedy

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a request by Michigan to slam shut two navigation locks that are the last physical barrier between the invading Asian carp and Lake Michigan.

The court issued its announcement Tuesday with no explanation. Read more.


In the news: Highest Court Weighs In On Invasive Issue

From Milwaukee Public Radio:
After weeks of squabbling among Great Lakes states, the U.S. Supreme Court will today take up the issue of Asian carp.

The invasive species has a firm hold in the Mississippi River, after flooding freed them from fishery ponds in Arkansas years ago.

Now there’s concern the monstrous creatures are about to slip into Lake Michigan by way of the canals dug decades ago to connect Chicago with the Mississippi River.

The State of Michigan wants Illinois to close two locks on the canal to plug the man-made link.

Wisconsin is supporting Michigan’s case.

Yet, as WUWM Environmental Reporter Susan Bence reports, uncertainty still surrounds the issue. Read more or listen:


In the news: 10 Lake County suburbs look to tap Lake Michigan water

From the Chicago Tribune:
In what could be the state's largest collective gulp of Lake Michigan water in nearly two decades, 10 suburbs are seeking approval to tap the vast but closely guarded natural resource.

With groundwater supplies drying up and vulnerable to contamination, the Lake County communities that now rely on wells are casting envious eyes on that tantalizingly close supply -- the sixth-largest freshwater lake in the world. They propose spending $250 million to lay about 57 miles of pipe and take other steps that would bring Lake Michigan water to the western part of Lake County.

It would be the largest diversion since the early 1990s and may spur criticism from other states that adjoin the Great Lakes, which brim with nearly 20 percent of the world's supply of fresh water. The move comes at the same time that Michigan and other states are battling Illinois in U.S. Supreme Court over whether it's doing enough to halt the potential invasion of Asian carp into Lake Michigan. Read more.


IISG in the news: Green initiative helps dispose of old meds

Highland Park High School students designed three mail boxes to be dispersed throughout the community so that people will have a safe place to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs. Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant provided the funding for one of these mail boxes.

From the Highland Park News:
While the standard blue U.S. Post Office mailboxes are seemingly disappearing from every community, a Highland Park High School environmental group will soon be installing throughout the city three custom-designed mailboxes with a new purpose.

The white mailboxes, purchased by the Save A Star Drug Awareness Foundation and a Police Department grant, were painted by student members of the high school's Green School Initiative and will be placed outside the Police Station, the North Shore Health Center and one additional rotating city location to collect old and unwanted prescription medications.

The P2D2 Prescription Pill Drug Disposal program has two purposes: ensure the drugs aren't abused recreationally and to promote safe disposal methods, as flushing old pills can become a health hazard in the water supply. Read more.

In the news: Carp DNA found closer to the lake

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Environmental DNA samples taken in recent weeks reveal that Asian carp apparently have infested another waterway just below the shores of Lake Michigan, this time north of downtown Chicago, the Journal Sentinel has learned.

U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan made reference to some "initial indications" of more waters infested with the jumbo-sized fish in a Jan. 6 memorandum to the U.S. Supreme Court. Kagan is opposing the State of Michigan's request for a Supreme Court injunction to close some navigation locks to keep the invasive fish from spilling into Lake Michigan. Read more.


In the news: Feds oppose closing locks to stop Asian carp

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
The Obama administration Tuesday opposed Michigan and other states that want to close shipping locks near Chicago to prevent ravenous Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes.

Solicitor General Elena Kagan told the U.S. Supreme Court that heeding the states' request would endanger public safety while disrupting cargo and passenger vessel traffic.

While acknowledging the carp pose a threat to the lakes and their $7 billion fishery, Kagan said it was unclear that closing the locks immediately was necessary to keep them out. Read more.


Two new IISG Knauss fellows will spend 2010 in D.C.

In 2010, two IISG Knauss fellowship candidates were chosen for positions in the executive branch of the federal government. Michael Allen of the University of Illinois and Priscilla Viana of the University of Illinois Chicago will be going to Washington for a year of hands-on government experience. Mike will be in NOAA’s Oceanic and Atmospheric Research division in the Office of Laboratories and Cooperative Institutes. Priscilla will be working at the National Science Foundation, Division of Ocean Science.

The National Sea Grant College Program Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship, established in 1979, provides a unique educational experience to students who have an interest in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources. The program matches highly qualified graduate students with "hosts" in the legislative and executive branch of government located in the Washington, D.C. area, for a one year paid fellowship. The program is named in honor of one of Sea Grant's founders, former NOAA Administrator, John A. Knauss.


In the news: Fight Against Asian Carp Threatens Fragile Great Lakes Unity

From the New York Times:
Asian carp, the voracious, nonnative fish whose arrival near Lake Michigan is threatening to cause havoc in the Great Lakes, are now setting off strife on land as well.

In an urgent effort to close down Chicago-area passages that could allow the unwanted fish to reach Lake Michigan, the State of Michigan is suing the State of Illinois and other entities that govern the waterways here. Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin have filed documents in recent days supporting Michigan’s move, and Indiana says it will soon do the same.

The new rift between these Midwestern states, which would reopen a nearly century-old legal case in the United States Supreme Court over Great Lakes waters, comes at a particularly sensitive moment — just as the numerous entities with interests in the Great Lakes had united in what lakes advocates consider some of their most significant progress in decades. Read more.