EPA says Great Lakes need to be watched - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

EPA says Great Lakes need to be watched

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(04/04/14) - There is some good and bad news when comes to the quality of the Great Lakes.

The federal government says the quality of the Great Lakes is improving, but there are threats that could cause big problems in the future.

Cameron Davis is a senior advisor to the EPA, which oversees the $1.6 billion Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. He spoke at Central Michigan University about research the school is conducting and the importance of clean water for everyone who lives around the Great Lakes.

"There's a real heavy emphasis on restoration, on trying to resuscitate what the Great Lakes are supposed to be all about. They should be all about making sure the water is safe to drink, the fish are safe to eat, going swimming along the coast is safe and healthy," he said.

Davis says for the most part, they are.

"Increasingly, we're also trying to prevent problems of the future before they even happen," he said.

The threat of Asian carp is real and frightening to Davis.

"It's very urgent that we keep those fish from becoming established in the Great Lakes," Davis said.

An image at CMU shows algae blooms in Saginaw Bay and Lake Erie.

"When you can see algae from outer space, you know you have a problem on your hands," Davis said.

Researchers are able to measure substances like anti-depressants and caffeine in the Great Lakes.

"There's the next generation of toxins we have to worry about called 'chemicals of emerging concern,'" Davis said.

The cold winter and thick ice cap on the Great Lakes could have an effect on pleasure seekers this summer.

"I think lake temperatures are going to be cooler for longer. People who want to go take a dip in the lake might have to wait 'til August instead of July," Davis said.

The extra ice has a side benefit. It slowed down winter time evaporation, so lake levels could be higher this summer, which is welcome news to boaters.

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