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article imageGood and bad news for the world's largest freshwater system

By Robert G Cope     Nov 29, 2012 in Environment
Ann Arbor - The good news begins with the University of Michigan's recent launch of a Great Lakes research and education center. The less good news is while older contaminants decline, newer are on the rise at a time the lakes' levels are plummeting.
Writing for Michigan Today, Jim Erickson, photographer and reporter, outlines the coming together of the Obama administration's establishment of the largest single source of funds ever focused on the Great Lakes (a billion dollars) and – more modest – a family foundation (Erb Family) grant of $4.5 million to be matched by University funds.
The creation of the University of Michigan's Water Center will provide a scientific framework to address toxic contaminants, combat invasive species, protect wildlife habitant and promote shoreline health. Illustrative of such modern research efforts, it will be cooperative across the Great Lake states and Canada.
The 'bad news' says, Tom Nalepa, from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “While their immense size can make them seem indestructible, the Great Lakes are showing severe signs of stress and face unprecedented threats.”
A November report in Scientific American announces good news and the bad: “In all the Great Lakes, old contaminants like DDT are declining but are being replaced by new ones, such as flame retardants.” Apparently long-life flame retardants, used in the manufacture of furniture and clothing, eventually find their way into drainage systems leading to the lakes.
As far away as a report in the Long Island Press – still reeling from 'Sandy' – tells of one of many small port towns around Lake Michigan, with lake levels dropping, having to dredge in order to sustain access to open water. The problems are due to drought and prolonged higher temperatures. No doubt such a report from New York intends to help its readers know, “Things are bad elsewhere too.”
Since the Great Lakes contain twenty percent of the world's fresh water, while the news is mixed, no doubt growing public awareness and the push of foundations as well as work of dedicated coalitions, with universities assisting, will -- over a long time -- assure progress.
More about Great lakes, Water, Environment, university of michigan
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