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UMD researchers reveal data from wetland studies in the Northland
KQDS-TV - Duluth, MN (7/27)
From Green Bay Wisconsin to Duluth Minnesota, research is being conducted to figure out the current status of our lakes and rivers when it comes to invasive species, and other aquatic trespassers.

Coastal Centre concerned about plastic pollution in Lake Huron
Owen Sound Sun Times (7/17)
Everyone has a role to play in turning the tide on the growing problem of plastic pollution in the Great Lakes. That's the message from Ontario's Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation outreach specialist, who is working to educate people on simple ways to help combat the issue.

Elementary Adventure Day outing provides hands-on fun
The Ashland Daily Press (7/12)
Just over half-a-dozen youngsters gathered at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, in Wisconsin, to participate in the first of this year’s three 4-H Elementary Adventure Day’s.

Summer interns help to research Lake Erie issues
The Toledo Blade (7/5)
Eleven college and university students from across the United States are studying freshwater lake issues this summer at the University of Toledo’s Lake Erie Center.

Anglers enlisted in water fight
Great Lakes Echo (6/29)
A recent study by researchers at Cornell University, in N.Y., revealed that anglers in the Great Lakes region are aware of and concerned about the threat of aquatic invasive species (AIS).

Lake State opens Sea Grant office
Sault Ste. Marie Evening News (6/29)
Lake Superior State University officially welcomed its new Michigan Sea Grant office to campus with a ribbon cutting ceremony Monday morning.

TEACH Calendar of Events
What's going on in your neighborhood this month? Meet other people and learn together at recreational and educational events! Our new dynamic calendar is updated daily with current educational events.
TEACH Water Pollution in the Great Lakes

2 | Why so polluted?

Click for larger image Under the belief that water could dilute any substance, industries and individuals during the 18th and 19th centuries often used rivers and lakes as garbage cans. Industrial effluent, raw sewage and animal carcasses would often be dumped into waterways, without much thought of contamination and downstream neighbors.

This practice started changing in the 20th century as people became aware of the importance of clean water to health. However, as more industries and people moved into the Great Lakes region, the more the rivers and lakes became polluted. Today, pollutants enter the Great Lakes in many different ways, but the main three entryways of pollutants are point source, nonpoint source and atmospheric pollution.

Point source pollution
When pollutants enter the waterway though a specific entry point, such as a drainpipe draining directly into a river, it's called point source pollution. Industrial water discharges and sewage treatment plants are the main culprits of this type of pollution. Point source pollutants can include many different organic and inorganic substances, including human waste and toxic metals.

Point source pollution can be traced to a specific discharge point and owner; therefore, it has been the easiest source of pollution to control and regulate. Since the Clean Water Act of 1972, nearly 100 percent of all industrial plants use control measures to reduce their toxic discharge, and the number of sewage treatment facilities has doubled.

Nonpoint source pollution
In contrast to point source pollution, nonpoint source (or NPS) pollution comes from many different diffuse sources and is extremely difficult to regulate and control; therefore, many experts believe that NPS pollution is the top hazard facing the Great Lakes today.

NPS pollution is mainly caused by runoff, when rain and snowmelt move over the land, picking up pollutants along the way and eventually dumping the pollutants into rivers and lakes. Some common NPS pollutants include fertilizers and pesticides from agricultural lands and homeowners; oil, grease and salt from highways; sediment from construction sites and eroding shorelines; and animal and human waste.

Click for larger image Atmospheric pollution
Atmospheric pollution (or air deposition) is another form of nonpoint source pollution, though instead of polluting via runoff, the pollution falls from the sky. As water moves through the hydrologic cycle, it falls as rain or snow and then evaporates into the air from land and surface water. Pollutants emitted into the air, such as through smoke stacks, follow this same path, and can be carried through the atmosphere and deposited into waterways hundreds of miles away from its source. Acid rain is the most well-known form of atmospheric pollution.

The major sources of atmospheric pollution include coal-burning energy plants and waste incinerators. The combustion of fossil fuels and waste (such as from hospitals) produces large amounts of mercury in the air, a toxic chemical that is fatal to humans and animals in large quantities. Phosphorus and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are also transported to waterways via air deposition.

Graphics: Industrial pollution in Green Bay, Wis.; power plant along Lake Michigan.

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