Detroit Water Shut off Life Without Water Voices from Detroit Circle of Blue J. Carl Ganter Todd Zawistowski
Voices From Detroit

The U.S. government spends more than $450 million each year to provide water and sanitation to poor and vulnerable populations around the world. It’s the first rule of international development, and it brings health, education, and prosperity. Yet in Detroit — a city under emergency management that is reeling from decades of deindustrialization and neighborhood […]

Where the Maumee River feeds into Lake Erie, the city of Toledo relies on the lake to supply drinking water for half a million residents in northern Ohio. Intense algal blooms, which can release toxins capable of causing severe liver damage, caused a neighboring Ohio community water treatment plant to shut down in September.
Ohio Lawmakers Discuss Ways to Stop Lake Erie’s Toxic Algal Blooms

Explore options from stricter fertilizer regulations to funding water plant improvements. Where the Maumee River feeds into Lake Erie, the city of Toledo relies on the lake to supply drinking water for half a million residents in northern Ohio. Intense algal blooms, which can release toxins capable of causing severe liver damage, caused the city […]

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Lake Erie Algae Blooms Prompt New International Targets for Phosphorus

Current targets not enough to stop algal toxins. Image courtesy Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory Harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie can prompt beach closures, like this one in Sandusky Bay, Erie County, Ohio. They also pose a threat to drinking water that is supplied from the lake. The two largest algal blooms ever […]

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Toledo Residents Told Water Is Safe

Toxin is below detectable levels in region’s drinking water Image courtesy of NOAA NOAA satellite image of harmful algal bloom in Lake Erie as of August 3. Grey indicates clouds or missing data, while cooler colors indicate low concentrations and warmer colors indicate high concentrations. Click image to enlarge. By Codi Kozacek Circle of Blue […]

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Toledo Issues Emergency ‘Do Not Drink Water’ Warning to Residents

Algae toxins poison Lake Erie; 400,000 people without water. Photo by Scott Strazzante / Circle of Blue Efforts by the City of Toledo and other “point source” dischargers of phosphorus have not been enough to stop toxic algal blooms in Lake Erie. The city warned residents not to drink their water Saturday due to algal […]

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Cause of Lake Erie’s Harmful Algal Blooms Gains More Certainty

New research finds that agricultural practices lead to biggest threat to water quality and health in the Great Lakes. Image courtesy NOAA CoastWatch A MODIS satellite image shows Lake Erie’s algal bloom in October, 2011. Click image to enlarge. By Codi Kozacek Circle of Blue Changes in the timing and method of applying agricultural fertilizer […]

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Great Lakes Featured

Newest Article

Voices From Detroit

Voices From Detroit

The U.S. government spends more than $450 million each year to provide water and sanitation to poor and vulnerable populations around the world. It’s the first rule of international development, and it brings health, education, and prosperity. Yet in Detroit — a city under emergency management that is reeling from decades of deindustrialization and neighborhood […]

Ohio Lawmakers Discuss Ways to Stop Lake Erie’s Toxic Algal Blooms

Explore options from stricter fertilizer regulations to funding water plant improvements. Where the Maumee River feeds into Lake Erie, the city of Toledo relies on the lake to supply drinking water for half a million residents in northern Ohio. Intense algal blooms, which can release toxins capable of causing severe liver damage, caused the city […]

Lake Erie Algae Blooms Prompt New International Targets for Phosphorus

Current targets not enough to stop algal toxins. Image courtesy Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory Harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie can prompt beach closures, like this one in Sandusky Bay, Erie County, Ohio. They also pose a threat to drinking water that is supplied from the lake. The two largest algal blooms ever […]

Toledo Residents Told Water Is Safe

Toxin is below detectable levels in region’s drinking water Image courtesy of NOAA NOAA satellite image of harmful algal bloom in Lake Erie as of August 3. Grey indicates clouds or missing data, while cooler colors indicate low concentrations and warmer colors indicate high concentrations. Click image to enlarge. By Codi Kozacek Circle of Blue […]

Toledo Issues Emergency ‘Do Not Drink Water’ Warning to Residents

Algae toxins poison Lake Erie; 400,000 people without water. Photo by Scott Strazzante / Circle of Blue Efforts by the City of Toledo and other “point source” dischargers of phosphorus have not been enough to stop toxic algal blooms in Lake Erie. The city warned residents not to drink their water Saturday due to algal […]

Cause of Lake Erie’s Harmful Algal Blooms Gains More Certainty

New research finds that agricultural practices lead to biggest threat to water quality and health in the Great Lakes. Image courtesy NOAA CoastWatch A MODIS satellite image shows Lake Erie’s algal bloom in October, 2011. Click image to enlarge. By Codi Kozacek Circle of Blue Changes in the timing and method of applying agricultural fertilizer […]

Algae Blooms, A New Visitor, Ruin Sleeping Bear Dunes Shoreline

A national park’s wildlife, allure, and purpose are challenged by a green mess.

Great Lakes Drinking Water Fouled by Toxic Algae

Years of inaction make green blooms the most unhealthy, unsightly, and urgent water quality problem in the world's largest source of fresh surface water

In Great Lakes, Reports Offer Reassurance and Warnings About Oil Pipeline Safety

Three studies reach differing conclusions about the vulnerability of water and land Photo courtesy Michigan Department of Natural Resources Oil is cleaned off a bird at a animal rehabilitation center following the 2010 oil spill near Marshall, Michigan. The largest inland spill in U.S. history originated from Enbridge's ruptured Line 6B. Click image to enlarge. […]

Great Lakes Water Quality: Technology and Regulations Work to Eliminate Major Shipping Pathway for Invasive Species

Political action and technological advances are cutting down on the transfer of invasive species via ballast water. Photo © J. Carl Ganter / Circle of Blue The ocean-going freighter Federal Polaris prepares to leave the harbor in Duluth, Minnesota. Stricter ballast water regulations and technological advances have slowed the transfer of invasive species into the […]

Report: Water Levels Hit Record Lows in Two Great Lakes, Wildlife Struggles to Cope with Changing Climate

Drought and reduced winter ice cover are contributing to declining water levels in the Great Lakes. As lakes Michigan and Huron hit record lows, a new report outlines what changes like this could mean for the region’s flora and fauna.

No Clear Path for Energy Policy in Great Lakes States

Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania governments struggle with climate change, budgets, and changing markets.

Great Lakes Ports and Shipping Companies Confounded by Climate Changes and Water Levels

With freighters forced to carry lighter loads, port structures damaged by rot, ship cannels that are filling with silt, there are millions of dollars in losses, repairs, and dredging — but scientists are working on adaptation solutions and planning resilience.

Clean Energy Picture Dramatically Changed For Midwest, As U.S. Fossil Energy Boom Gathers Steam

With the price of natural gas falling thanks to innovating drilling solutions in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, investments in water-sipping energy models like wind and solar have dried up.

Fossil Fuel Boom Shakes Ohio, Spurring Torrent of Investment and Worry Over Water

Ohio’s shale oil and gas fortunes point up. By Keith Schneider and Codi Yeager Circle of Blue Photo © Codi Yeager/Circle of Blue The site of a proposed $US 3 billion natural-gas-to-liquids plant near Wellsville, Ohio, heralds what many say is the state’s most significant investment in oil and gas development in decades. But the […]

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Pollution

Newest Article

Infographic: Toxic Algae in Ohio Drinking Water Sources

Algae toxins present in seven lakes, reservoirs and rivers that supply drinking water to 1 million people. Graphic by Codi Kozacek / Circle of Blue Seven public drinking water sources in Ohio have been listed as “impaired” due to high levels of algae toxins.Click image to enlarge. Seven lakes, reservoirs and rivers that supply drinking […]

Seven Ohio Drinking Water Sources Don’t Meet State Water Quality Standards for Toxic Algae

Lack of testing requirements inhibits more thorough review of drinking water safety. Graphic by Codi Kozacek / Circle of Blue Seven public drinking water sources in Ohio have been listed as “impaired” due to high levels of algae toxins.Click image to enlarge. By Codi Kozacek Circle of Blue Seven lakes, reservoirs and rivers that supply […]

Ohio Lawmakers Discuss Ways to Stop Lake Erie’s Toxic Algal Blooms

Explore options from stricter fertilizer regulations to funding water plant improvements. Where the Maumee River feeds into Lake Erie, the city of Toledo relies on the lake to supply drinking water for half a million residents in northern Ohio. Intense algal blooms, which can release toxins capable of causing severe liver damage, caused the city […]

Lake Erie Utilities and Organizations React to Algae Toxins in Drinking Water

Toledo crisis prompts calls for action, purchases of testing equipment to safeguard public health. Image courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center NASA satellite image of harmful algal bloom in Lake Erie as of August 3. Click image to enlarge. By Codi Kozacek Circle of Blue Communities that draw their drinking water from Lake Erie […]

Toledo Residents Told Water Is Safe

Toxin is below detectable levels in region’s drinking water Image courtesy of NOAA NOAA satellite image of harmful algal bloom in Lake Erie as of August 3. Grey indicates clouds or missing data, while cooler colors indicate low concentrations and warmer colors indicate high concentrations. Click image to enlarge. By Codi Kozacek Circle of Blue […]

Toledo Issues Emergency ‘Do Not Drink Water’ Warning to Residents

Algae toxins poison Lake Erie; 400,000 people without water. Photo by Scott Strazzante / Circle of Blue Efforts by the City of Toledo and other “point source” dischargers of phosphorus have not been enough to stop toxic algal blooms in Lake Erie. The city warned residents not to drink their water Saturday due to algal […]

Oil Rupture in Line 5 Pipeline in Mackinac Straits Would Be A Mammoth Mess

University of Michigan study provides online video scenarios of fast and expansive movement of oil in two Great Lakes. Photo courtesy of University of Michigan Water Center Researchers used computer simulations to study how an oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac would behave. A crude oil pipeline that transports up to 23 million gallons […]

Big Toxic Algal Bloom Again in Forecast for Lake Erie

Lake continues trend of harmful and unsightly effect of nutrient pollution. Photo courtesy of Tom Archer / Michigan Sea Grant An algal bloom spreads across Lake Erie near Point Pelee, Ontario. State and federal researchers forecast an above-average bloom in 2014. Click image to enlarge. By Codi Kozacek Circle of Blue Water plant managers and […]

Joint U.S.-Canada Agency Calls for Big Phosphorus Reductions in Lake Erie

Curbing harmful algal blooms and oxygen-deprived dead zones in the Great Lakes requires pollution to be drastically reduced. Image courtesy Tom Archer / Michigan Sea Grant An algal bloom spreads across Lake Erie near Point Pelee, Ontario. Blooms in the lake consist primarily of tiny cyanobacteria that can release toxins capable of causing skin rashes […]

Green Bay Moves To Reduce Phosphorus and Revive Dead Zone

Wisconsin uses point source regulation to encourage adoption of nonpoint best management practices.

Why the Clean Water Act Overlooked Agricultural Pollution

Reluctance to address land use practices means nutrient reduction measures are voluntary for farmers.

Cities Tackle Sewer Overflows to Reduce Phosphorus

Effluent from sewage treatment plants is just one way that cities contribute phosphorus to waterways.

Consolidation of Livestock Farms Creates a Big Manure—and Nutrient–Challenge



Livestock production in the U.S. has seen massive consolidation, with thousands of animals being raised in close quarters.

Rio Tinto’s Michigan Nickel Mine Introduces Citizen Water Quality Testing Program

Despite skepticism, company agrees to finance environmental monitoring at Eagle Mine

In Great Lakes, Reports Offer Reassurance and Warnings About Oil Pipeline Safety

Three studies reach differing conclusions about the vulnerability of water and land Photo courtesy Michigan Department of Natural Resources Oil is cleaned off a bird at a animal rehabilitation center following the 2010 oil spill near Marshall, Michigan. The largest inland spill in U.S. history originated from Enbridge's ruptured Line 6B. Click image to enlarge. […]

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Multimedia

Newest Article

Infographic: Toxic Algae in Ohio Drinking Water Sources

Algae toxins present in seven lakes, reservoirs and rivers that supply drinking water to 1 million people. Graphic by Codi Kozacek / Circle of Blue Seven public drinking water sources in Ohio have been listed as “impaired” due to high levels of algae toxins.Click image to enlarge. Seven lakes, reservoirs and rivers that supply drinking […]

Voices From Detroit

The U.S. government spends more than $450 million each year to provide water and sanitation to poor and vulnerable populations around the world. It’s the first rule of international development, and it brings health, education, and prosperity. Yet in Detroit — a city under emergency management that is reeling from decades of deindustrialization and neighborhood […]

Infographics: Effect of Northern Ohio’s Cropland and Land Use on Maumee River and Lake Erie

Click through the interactive spreadsheets to see how phosphorous loading in the Great Lakes region has changed in the last decade and how these trends relate to changes in cropping patterns since the 1950s and land use patterns since the 1980s.

Map: Not All Phosphorus Is the Same

A breakdown of the different types of phosphorous in Ohio's Maumee and Sandusky rivers that have led to algal blooms in Lake Erie since the 1970s.

Map: Harmful Algal Blooms in the Great Lakes Basin

Blooms occur in Lake Erie’s western basin, Lake Michigan’s Green Bay and Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay.

Great Lakes Ice Cover Most Extensive in 20 Years

Covering about 88 percent of the lakes on February 13, the ice has implications for water levels, shipping and fisheries. Photo ©J. Carl Ganter / Circle of Blue Wind and waves have created otherworldly ice formations along the shores of Lake Michigan near Leland, Mich. Click image to enlarge. By Codi Kozacek Circle of Blue […]

Infographic: Climate Change in the Great Lakes

How will predicted changes to water levels and water temperatures affect the future of this region that is home to 8 million people?

Photo Slideshow: Great Lakes Pollution, Ed Wargin’s Fresh Coast Project

The Fresh Coast Project, an ambitious 10-year, around-the-lakes journey that captures the Great Lakes on film, was created by photographer Ed Wargin to visualize the lakes and streams as one stunning, connected, living story. But Wargin captures the good with the bad, in this series of exclusive photos showing the pollution he found during his travels.

Photo Slideshow: Great Lakes Beauty, Ed Wargin’s Fresh Coast Project

The Fresh Coast Project, an ambitious 10-year, around-the-lakes journey that captures the Great Lakes on film, was created by photographer Ed Wargin to visualize the lakes and streams as one stunning, connected, living story.

Video: Mapping Grand Traverse Bay with the Great Lakes Water Studies Institute

A narrated photo gallery of a day on the bay.

Infographic: Wild Rice is Keystone Species for Upper Great Lakes Region

Wild Rice is an aquatic grass that is harvested annually for its nutritious grain. Throughout its growth cycle, wild rice encounters many external threats, both environmental and human-made, which are being compounded by the effects of climate change. Click through the interactive infographic below to learn more about the growth cycle of wild rice, as […]

Video: WaterLife Director Kevin McMahon Tells the Story of the Great Lakes

A cinematic survey of the state of the Great Lakes in Canada and the United States.

Video: James Olson Discusses the Great Lakes Compact

In an interview with Circle of Blue, James M. Olson discusses the Great Lakes Compact: an international agreement intended to protect the Great Lakes Basin.

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Asian Carp

Newest Article

Great Lakes States to Track Asian Carp and Prepare for Future Invasions

Great Lakes States to Track Asian Carp and Prepare for Future Invasions

Using invasive carp already present in Lake Erie, agencies practice response for more damaging species.

Invasive Mussels Another Suspect in Resurgence of Algal Blooms

Invasive zebra and quagga mussels, introduced into the Great Lakes in the late 1980s, may also be contributing to the growing algal blooms in Lake Erie, though researchers disagree on their exact role.

Study: Army Corps of Engineers Release Ways to Keep Asian Carp Out of Great Lakes

Plans to stop the invasive fish are costly, and most take more than 10 years to complete.

Report: Fish Analysis Reveals Asian Carp Have Reproduced in Great Lakes Watershed

A new study shows grass carp reproduced at least once in the Sandusky River, but it cannot confirm an established population.

Report: Why Asian Carp eDNA Still Matters in the Fight for the Great Lakes

Researchers see great promise in eDNA testing to detect invasive and rare species at low abundance — including invasive Asian carp — but refining the tool is a long process.

After Summer of Testing, Status of Asian Carp in Lake Erie Remains Uncertain

Positive test results for Asian carp eDNA from Lake Erie's Sandusky and Maumee bays are worrying, but not conclusive.

Has the Invasion Started? Asian Carp eDNA Found in Lake Erie

While federal efforts are largely focused on stonewalling invasive Asian carp at Chicago, the fish could be making their way into the Great Lakes through Lake Erie, where studies show they are likely to thrive.

U.S. Congress to Get Asian Carp Solutions by 2013, Two Years Ahead of Schedule

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is taking steps to speed up its recommendations for keeping invasive species out of the Great Lakes — but will its actions be quick enough to stop Asian carp? Photo by Jason Lindsey By Codi Yeager Circle of Blue By the end of next year, the United States Army […]

Third Time’s Not A Charm: U.S. Supreme Court Again Denies Request to Stop Asian Carp

The Supreme Court denied a request by five states that were calling for immediate action to stop invasive Asian carp from infiltrating the Great Lakes. This is the third time that the court has denied an injunction for the Asian carp case.

Study Outlines Plans to Stop Asian Carp at Chicago

Three proposals for separating the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River watershed could block the flow of aquatic invasive species while re-envisioning water management in Chicago, a new study says. Image courtesy Great Lakes Commission The three separation alternatives include a down-river single barrier, a mid-system alternative of four barriers on CAWS branches between Lockport […]

Advance of the Invader: Asian Carp Continue March to Northern Waters

Live carp have been found in North Dakota and past the electric barriers in Chicago. As the carp push forward, Michigan and other Great Lakes states are once again asking the U.S. Supreme Court to speed up action to stop the advance of the invader.

Feds Pledge $47 Million To Asian Carp Fight; States Appeal Court Loss

Last week, the Obama Administration announced an updated plan, which included additional research but not closing the Chicago locks.

Asian Carp — On the Docket in D.C. and Chicago; On the Menu in Michigan

Federal judge rejects Asian carp injunction as Congress passes a ban on their import.

Great Lakes Threats Go Beyond Asian Carp, Invasive Expert Says

Dr. Reuben Keller calls for long-term solutions to protect the Great Lakes, and the Mississippi and Illinois rivers.

Illinois Company Receives Grant to Export Asian Carp to China

Asian carp are heading home, 40,000 pounds at a time.

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Climate, Energy, and Environment

Newest Article

Ohio Lawmakers Discuss Ways to Stop Lake Erie’s Toxic Algal Blooms

Explore options from stricter fertilizer regulations to funding water plant improvements. Where the Maumee River feeds into Lake Erie, the city of Toledo relies on the lake to supply drinking water for half a million residents in northern Ohio. Intense algal blooms, which can release toxins capable of causing severe liver damage, caused the city […]

Toledo Residents Told Water Is Safe

Toxin is below detectable levels in region’s drinking water Image courtesy of NOAA NOAA satellite image of harmful algal bloom in Lake Erie as of August 3. Grey indicates clouds or missing data, while cooler colors indicate low concentrations and warmer colors indicate high concentrations. Click image to enlarge. By Codi Kozacek Circle of Blue […]

Rio Tinto’s Michigan Nickel Mine Introduces Citizen Water Quality Testing Program

Despite skepticism, company agrees to finance environmental monitoring at Eagle Mine

In Great Lakes, Reports Offer Reassurance and Warnings About Oil Pipeline Safety

Three studies reach differing conclusions about the vulnerability of water and land Photo courtesy Michigan Department of Natural Resources Oil is cleaned off a bird at a animal rehabilitation center following the 2010 oil spill near Marshall, Michigan. The largest inland spill in U.S. history originated from Enbridge's ruptured Line 6B. Click image to enlarge. […]

Great Lakes Map Shows Greatest Ecosystem Stress in Lakes Erie and Ontario

Researchers hope the map is used to plan restoration projects that provide the greatest human benefits. Great Lakes Environmental Assessment and Mapping Project This map shows the cumulative environmental stress in the Great Lakes from 34 factors, including climate change, invasive species, and coastal development.Click image to enlarge. Brett Walton Circle of Blue A first-of-its-kind […]

Report & Conference: Assessing Great Lakes Health and Future — Al Gore Delivers Keynote

In Detroit last week, three organizations involved in Great Lakes management held concurrent and joint meetings to discuss the future of one of the world’s largest sources of fresh surface water. Former Vice President Al Gore delivered the keynote address, linking climate change to water issues.

Study: NASA Shows World’s Water is Warming, Buoy Data Confirms in Great Lakes

In some northern regions, lake temperatures are increasing more than air temperatures.

Great Lakes Cleanup to Get $2.2 Billion in Federal Funding

The EPA plan aims to clean up top pollution sites and establish a “zero tolerance policy” toward invasive species

Michigan Group Seeks to Curtail Great Lakes Mining

A Michigan environmental advocacy group is collecting signatures for a ballot measure to limit mining around the Great Lakes. The group, the Michigan Save Our Water Committee, hopes to collect 400,000 signatures on a statewide petition by May so its question will make the 2010 general election ballot.

Coal Ash: Town’s Toxic Water Embodies National Challenge

Dirty legacy contaminates groundwater of an Indiana town.

Great Lakes Wind Turbines Could Someday Power the Midwest

Hundreds of thousands of wind turbines could someday stretch across the vast shorelines of the Great Lakes, promising clean renewable energy for the entire upper Midwest. The ambitious plan may still be decades from fruition, but early studies show great potential. In the latest installment of an ongoing $1 million feasibility study focusing on Lake […]

U.S. Faces Era Of Water Scarcity

Profligate use hurts in unexpected places Quest for new supplies nationwide UPDATE: Please read our 2009 update on water problems in the US. Striking symbols of American engineering prowess, Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam stand in testimony to the U.S. spirit of growth and prosperity. But the 28.5 million acre feet Lake Mead is […]

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Great Lakes Compact

Newest Article

In Apparent Contradiction, Data Shows Waukesha’s Groundwater Levels Rising, Not Falling

In Apparent Contradiction, Data Shows Waukesha’s Groundwater Levels Rising, Not Falling

City’s case for diverting Great Lakes Water appears significantly weakened.

Waukesha Presses First Test of Great Lakes Water Compact

Drinking Water Diversion Proposed For Out Of Basin City

Congress, Michigan Legislature Asked to Fix Leaks in Great Lakes Compact

It’s been more than a year since eight states agreed to prevent large-scale diversions from the Great Lakes, the most abundant source of clean freshwater on the planet. The passage of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, completed after ten years of campaigning by public interest organizations, legislative leaders, and governors of both parties, was meant to permanently secure the globally significant storehouse of water contained in the Great Lakes.

Waukesha’s Water Woes Herald Test of Great Lakes Compact

Milwaukee Water for Sale? Waukesha’s Water Woes Herald Test of Great Lakes CompactThe Great lakes Compact may be put to the test soon as the city of Waukesha, Wisconsin seeks permission to tap Lake Michigan's water supply.

Video: James Olson Discusses the Great Lakes Compact

In an interview with Circle of Blue, James M. Olson discusses the Great Lakes Compact: an international agreement intended to protect the Great Lakes Basin.

Great Lakes Compact flows through U.S. House On its Way to the President

Representatives remain worried about exemptions Sarah Haughn Circle of Blue As of Tuesday, grandiose visions of Lake Michigan pipelines pumping water to parched Arizona began withering in the wake of the congressionally approved Great Lakes Compact. With the Compact ratified, the Great Lakes Basin is one executive signature away from legislation that would prohibit outside […]

Great Lakes compact now moves to Congress

SAUGATUCK, Michigan – Michigan became the last state to approve the Great Lakes Compact on Wednesday, with Govern Granholm formally approving the compact. Before it can become official US policy however, the international treaty needs to move through the US Congress where expectations are high that it will pass, the Detroit Free Press reports. The […]

Q&A: James Olson on Great Lakes Compact, Water Privatization

Expert gives opinion on the international agreement intended to protect.

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The Stream & Federal Water Tap

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Federal Water Tap, July 14: White House Threatens Veto of House Water and Energy Bill

The House Appropriations Committee passed a $US 34 billion bill on Thursday to fund the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior, which handles western U.S. water matters, and the Army Corps of Engineers, which is in charge of many levees, dams, and wetlands. The White House threatened to veto the bill, making several […]

The Stream, July 8: French Cities Follow Paris in Ditching Privatized Water

Europe More cities in France are starting to return to public water supplies, pressuring private water firms that control 60 percent of the country’s water market, Reuters reported. The trend follows Paris’ decision to ditch its private water system five years ago, and is allowing cities to negotiate for better prices with their private suppliers […]

Federal Water Tap, July 7: Algae Research, Lake Mead, Hydropower

President Obama signed legislation that authorizes $US 82 million over four years for researching and responding to harmful algae blooms. A federal task force, led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, must prepare a plan within two years for reducing algae blooms in the Great Lakes. An existing task force must file a progress […]

Federal Water Tap, June 30: Dead Zone and Algae Forecasts for U.S. Waters

Computer models forecast a low-oxygen “dead zone” of average size for the Gulf of Mexico this summer and a slightly above-average fish-suffocation zone for the Chesapeake Bay, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The standard unit for comparing the size of dead zones is the “New England state.” The Gulf of Mexico will […]

The Stream, April 10: Water Rationing Looms in Brazil City

South America An ongoing drought has raised the prospect of water rationing in São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, Reuters reported. The city is home to 20 million people and will be one of the sites to host World Cup soccer games in June. Mining companies are slowing down their investments in Chile due to high […]

Federal Water Tap, March 10: Water Spending Is Mixed in President Obama’s 2015 Budget

Like with any spending plan, water programs, because of their diversity, seesawed in the president’s budget request. Some programs were down, some up. Two programs that tipped way down were the state revolving funds, which provide low-interest loans to drinking water and sewer projects. President Obama requested a 25 percent cut. The president also requested […]

The Stream, February 27: Australia Caps Murray-Darling Water Buybacks at 1,500 Gigaliters

Australia New South Wales and the federal government of Australia have reached a new agreement about government water buybacks in the Murray-Darling River Basin, capping the buybacks at 1,500 gigaliters, the Guardian reported. The buybacks transfer water rights from farmers and other water users to the government, and are meant to keep enough water in […]

Federal Water Tap, January 20: Hark! A Budget!

After a period of budget gloom, the $US 1 trillion spending bill approved by the House and Senate last week brought a little cheer to water programs, which fared relatively well. Some of the harshest sequestration cuts have been restored. The bill will add $US 10 million to the U.S. Geological Survey’s water resources program, […]

Federal Water Tap, January 6: 2014 Preview

In a normal week, I use this space to look back at U.S. government water news from the seven days that have just passed. Today, however, I turn the lens in the opposite direction. These are the policies, reports, and decisions to anticipate in 2014, organized chronologically, more or less. Great Lakes The government gets […]

Federal Water Tap, December 16: Climate Change and Water Supplies for Two Western U.S. River Basins

Dropping When It’s Hot The Santa Ana watershed, home to 6 million people in Southern California, faces a number of threats to its water supply because of climate change, according to a comprehensive Bureau of Reclamation study. River flows and precipitation will decrease, as will the amount of water infiltrating the basin’s aquifers, which provide […]

The Stream, November 21: New Zealand’s Water Pollution from Growing Dairy Industry

As more and more land is converted to dairy farms, New Zealand’s waterways face increasing risk from harmful algal blooms and excessive weed growth, according to a report from the country’s parliamentary commissioner for the environment, Xinhua reported. A boom in the dairy industry has been fueled by the developing world’s growing demand for dairy […]

Federal Water Tap, November 18: $US 1.2 Billion Restoration Plan for California Marshes

Wetlands The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service submitted a final plan for the nation’s second-largest tidal marsh restoration, a 50-year $US 1.2 billion project to revive habitat for threatened birds, plants, and animals in the San Francisco Bay. The voluntary plan sets ambitious goals for 17 species, but comes with no dedicated federal funding. “Recovery […]

Federal Water Tap, November 4: President Obama Unveils New Elements in Climate Action Plan

What Should We Do? Continuing to flesh out a plan he outlined in June, President Barack Obama issued an executive order creating two climate change advisory bodies. The Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience is a federal conglomeration, comprising senior officials from at least 30 agencies. The other is a task force of prominent state, […]

The Stream, October 3: One Year Post-Drought, Global Food Prices at 3-Year Low

Food Record grain harvests in some of the world’s biggest exporters this year have restocked global supplies, drawing down food prices that spiked following the 2012 drought to their lowest level in three years, AlertNet reported. Officials at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations warned that global markets and prices are still […]

The Stream, August 1: Drought and Lack of Rain Force Sahel Families to Leave

Drought Frequent droughts and unsteady rainfall are pushing families out of the Sahel, a new report from Refugees International says. Most of the region’s 100 million inhabitants rely on seasonal rainfall to rejuvenate farmland and produce feed for their herds, however in recent years an acute shortage of water has drained savings and forced families to move […]

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In the Circle: Fresh Focus

Newest Article

Celebrating with a Blue Streak

A new member of the Circle of Blue team introduces herself. If you’re observant, you may have noticed a new name on Circle of Blue’s maps and graphics this summer – my name, Kaye LaFond. Maybe you’ve even read one of my stories. Since early June, I’ve been hanging around the Circle of Blue office […]

Notes from the Field: Adventure on the High (Inland) Seas

As reporter Codi Yeager-Kozacek's trip across Lake Michigan got a little more exciting when she sailed into an October gale, it was a fitting reminder of the difference between reporting from a desk and reporting from the field.

On the Trail of the Tiny & Troublesome Great Lakes Microplastic

Circle of Blue reporter Codi Kozacek talks with scientists who are uncovering millions of microscopic plastic beads in the Great Lakes. Photo courtesy of Lorena Rios-Mendoza Tiny pieces of blue, white and green plastic are visible in a water sample taken from Lake Erie.Click image to enlarge. A research team sailing on a replica tall-ship […]

2012 Year In Review: At the Front Line of the Global Contest Over Water, Food, and Energy

Circle of Blue's senior editor Keith Schneider reflects on — and celebrates — this year's body of work from our top reporters.

The Mississippi Seesaw: Extreme Weather Begets Extreme River Levels

With historic drought following historic floods, the lower Mississippi River basin has seen, in consecutive years, both ends of the hydrological spectrum. The Mississippi River at Memphis, Tennessee is 17.3 meters (56.7 feet) lower today than it was just 15 months ago during the spring of 2011. Back then, record floods led the U.S. Army […]

Great Lakes Algae Blooms: Lake Erie Respite, Lake Superior Rises

Photo courtesy of the University of Toledo. Not far from where I live in Benzie County, Michigan lies a network of shaded forest trails that end on the broad sand beaches of Lake Michigan’s Platte River Bay. In the distance, the steep flanks of the Sleeping Bear Dune dive to the Great Lake. Across the […]

Tracking Invasive Asian Carp: Where Are Those Flopping Fish?

An increasing percentage of eDNA samples, taken near Lake Michigan, are turning up positive for carp.

Commentary: Great Lakes As Sacred Spaces

In the battle between sacred places and commerce, the sacred rarely stands a chance.

Great Lakes Shrinking?

As drought grips much of the nation, the mighty Great Lakes are shrinking, the New York Times reports today, expanding upon an AP story published August 3 that also said Lake Superior is getting warmer. By Felicity Barringer, New York Times (Aug 14, 2007) – Water levels in the three upper Great Lakes are wavering […]

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Towards a Blue Economy: Michigan’s Freshwater Future

Midwest leader travels to Mideast to secure his state’s blue economy.

Compact Impact: Great Lakes Legislation Now Active

As the Great Lakes Compact goes into effect to protect Midwest waterways, some politicians call for unquestioning support, while others insist that its weaknesses must be addressed. Environmental attorney and activist Jim Olson continues his participation in the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, as Michigan State Senator Patty Birkholz rallies for unanimous acceptance. Source: Progress […]

Shipping Group Sings Ballast Water Blues, Regulations Remain

DULUTH, Minnesota — Zebra Mussels traveling into the Great Lakes region of the United States now need a passport. No longer shall they enjoy a free ride from ship to lake. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled in favor of states’ rights to regulate ballast water — water released from ships entering […]

Approved Great Lakes Compact Registers Ripple Effect Among Michigan Citizens

TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan — There’s a hole in our bucket, dear Congress, dear Congress. Or so concerned environmental groups in Michigan sing after the lauded passage of the Great Lakes Compact – legislation they believe needs a patch or two. The Compact, passed this October, prevents private and public interests from diverting large quantities of […]

Obama, With Emanuel, May Spell Greater Conservation Efforts for the Great Lakes

Advocacy groups and political analysts predict strong Great Lakes conservation and restoration policies under President-Elect Barack Obama, the Detroit Free Press reports. The appointment of Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) as Obama’s White House Chief of Staff, further bolsters these hopes. Cameron Davis, president of the Alliance for the Great Lakes and an Obama campaign advisor, told […]

Bush Signs Great Lakes Compact Into Law

President Bush added the final signatory touch to the long awaited Great Lakes Compact on Friday. Now it is up to the Great Lakes states to begin implementing the legislation. “Together, we have taken a major step to protect the Great Lakes. I am hopeful that this historic cooperation will enable us to accelerate our […]

Great Lakes Compact: Nestle Joins Bottled Water Exemption Debate

CHICAGO — The bottled water loophole in the Great Lakes Compact – an opening that initially worried lawyers, conservationists and concerned citizens — is inspiring corporations like Nestle to respond. “How do you define a product?” Nestle spokesperson Brian Flaherty asked the Washington Post. “Water goes into beer in Wisconsin and radiators in Detroit. Why […]

Senate Endorses Great Lakes Compact, Amid Growing Concern for Region’s Health

CHICAGO – After a decade of deliberation, the bill created to protect the Great Lakes Basin from interests that would divert the resource to water-starved regions of the country, is finally finding its way through Congress. According to the Chicago Tribune, Senate endorsed the Great Lakes Compact this past Friday. Cameron Davis, president of the […]

Senators Bicker Over Standards in Ballast Water Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – While the Senate has moved to pass the Great Lakes Compact, it has stalled on legislation that would address the invasion of harmful non-indigenous species into the basin. The AP reports that Senator Daniel Inouye, chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, is pushing to get clean-up standards established for the […]

Great Lakes Compact, Committed to Care of Congress, Receives Presidential Support

The Great Lakes Compact, a treaty that would prevent a majority of outside interests from diverting water from the Great Lakes Basin, is predicted to receive a hospitable hearing from Congress and has already been recognized with an executive head nod on Capitol Hill. According to a broadcast by Chicago Public Radio, the Compact will […]

Appellate Court Blasts Ballast Water Dumping in Great Lakes

An appeals court in California upheld the decision to bar ships passing through the Great Lakes from discharging ballast water on their way to or from the ocean, an article in Democrat and Chronicle announces. New York Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, said the “decision is a huge win in protecting New York state’s Great Lakes […]

Op-ed: Though the Compact is Signed, Great Lakes are Still at Risk

TOLEDO, Ohio — What seems like a near-perfect deal to protect the Great Lakes watershed deserves further thought, suggests Dave Dempsey in and editorial published in the Toledo Blade: The Great Lakes Compact took 10 years to write and pass, generated a thousand adoring news releases, and now goes off to Washington for what the […]

For Environmentalists and Economists, Great Lakes Awash in Opportunity

TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan — “How do you ‘brand’ water? If anyone has an answer to that question, its journalist and Traverse City native, J. Carl Ganter. Ganter is the executive director of an ambitious international non-profit, Circle of Blue, addressing the dangers – and opportunities – lapping at the issue of fresh water conservation. As […]

Wisconsin Passes Great Lakes Compact

MADISON, Wisconsin — Both houses of the Wisconsin Legislature overwhelmingly approved the Great Lakes Compact on May 15th, sending it to Governor Jim Doyle and putting pressure on the states that have not yet ratified it. Source :The Milwaukee Journal Sentinal

Michigan Dips Toe Into Great Lakes Compact

LANSING, Michigan — Michigan’s House and Senate each passed bills Wednesday to protect Great Lakes water from diversion to thirsty outsiders in the future but stopped short of approving legislation required to implement the eight-state Great Lakes Regional Compact. Environmental groups said the move was a step forward, but without teeth. Source : The Detroit […]

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