Great Lakes concerns

Alex Doty • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:59 AM

“I think there’s a few things that certainly warrant our attention,” said Alan Steinman, director of Grand Valley State University’s Annis Water Resources Institute.

One such concern, he said, is a change in the environment.

“The impact we are seeing now with water levels is linked to that,” he said.

With climate change comes changes to rain patterns and precipitation, according to Steinman.

“When precipitation does occur, it’s going to occur in more episodic storms,” he said.

These large, episodic storms will have more runoff, Steinman said, and there will also be the possibility of sewage plant overflows. Both of these would bring pollutants to local rivers and streams, and eventually to the Great Lakes.

Great Lakes experts have a new tool at their disposal to address their concerns: Project GLEAM (Great Lakes Environmental Assessment and Mapping). The map shows all major categories of threats to the Great Lakes, ranging from climate change to land-based pollution and invasive species.

Officials behind the project hope to use the information from the map to guide management efforts.

Steinman said another issue they’re concerned with is the environment being altered by species not native to the region.

“It’s unclear about what problems that will have,” he said.

For example, a blue-green algae typically found in subtropical waters has made its way into the Great Lakes in recent years.

To read more of this story, see Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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