Water

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When they embarked on a two-year survey of the Great Lakes’ open waters, researchers expected to find a fair amount of plastics. But the sheer amount of the pollution, and the size of the plastic particles that were found, is what caught the attention of State University of New York Professor Sherri Mason and her research group. Their findings have, in turn, piqued the interest of state legislators.
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During the last year, residents of neighborhoods in Chicago and Detroit have had to deal with growing piles of petroleum coke, or petcoke. These piles were often left uncovered, allowing winds to disperse black dust into surrounding communities and nearby waterways.
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This SLC Regional Resource examines two recent environmentally hazardous spills in West Virginia and North Carolina and the immediate remedial action taken by each state. Understanding how these states reacted in the wake of water contamination can help other SLC states respond quickly and effectively if faced with similar challenges.

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In Minnesota and Wisconsin, after decades of work trying to clean up the contaminated St. Louis River, a delisting of this Great Lakes “Area of Concern” is finally in sight.
A new action plan targets 2025 as the delisting date, with a price tag of up to $400 million to restore the river system — the largest U.S. tributary to Lake Superior and the largest Area of Concern in the Great Lakes.
But to execute the plan, state officials will be relying on federal dollars and, in particular, continued funding of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
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Under a package of bills introduced in February, Michigan lawmakers are seeking to better close a sometimes-overlooked pathway for invasive species to enter the region’s waterways — the transport and trade of live organisms.
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In a case involving management of a watershed hundreds of miles east of his state’s border, and that will be decided by a U.S. appeals court in Philadelphia, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has taken much more than a passing interest.
He is leading a coalition of states that have filed an amicus brief asking the federal court to reject the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to require states in the Chesapeake Bay region to develop processes to reduce nutrient runoff (nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment).

Quagga and Zebra Mussels continue to spread in the West, despite efforts to curtail or prevent their spread. Quagga Mussels first arrived in the Great Lakes in the late 1980s and since then have spread throughout the country. On February 25, 2014 National Park Service and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources officials announced that thousands of adult quagga mussels have been found in various locations in Lake Powell.

The January 2014 chemical spill in Charleston, W. Va., that left 300,000 people without water for days could prompt significant new oversight of above ground storage tanks and more in-depth threat assessments for water infrastructure at both a state and federal level. Proponents of tighter safety standards will likely see the accident as an impetus to kick-start a larger regulatory conversation concerning chemicals and their storage facilities across the country.

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In a January study exploring ways to prevent the movement of invasive species such as Asian carp between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River systems, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers offers plenty of options, but no definitive answers on what to do next. Reaction to the much-anticipated report, too, has highlighted continuing divisions in the region over how to attack the Asian carp problem.

The San Jose Mercury News is reporting that state officials with the California Department of Public Health are warning that 17 most rural communities may run out of water within the next 60 to 120 days as the staggering effects of the state's historic drought continue. 

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