Environment & Energy

photo of LeFever Dam
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

For the past 50 years, the Cuyahoga River’s fortunes have risen and fallen just like the water that flows down the crooked channel and into Lake Erie.  This week, we’re answering our first question submitted by a listener as part of a new project we’re calling, “OH Really?”  WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia takes us on a river tour.

JEFF ST. CLAIR / WKSU

Park staff at Cuyahoga Valley National Park are expressing concerns about the increase in littering and trash in the park since the partial government shutdown began. 

Deb Yandala, CEO of the Conservancy for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, says trash cans are overflowing because no employees are there to empty the bins and that visitors are leaving their trash on the ground.

If the problem continues, Yandala says they may have to close the parking lots.

This year Cuyahoga County and the State of Ohio cleaned up a dump for construction debris in East Cleveland. But it’s not yet clear if the dump’s operators will have to pay the bill.

Arco Recycling had piled the land high with rubble from demolished buildings—angering the neighbors whose homes were nearby.

WKSU

The Coast Guard released a Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA) that identifies problems on the Cuyahoga River and suggestions for how they can be fixed. 

The Coast Guard consulted waterway users over the summer about problems they encounter on the Cuyahoga River. Commander Steven Elliot from the Coast Guard’s Marine and Safety Unit in Cleveland says the resurgence of waterfront businesses and recreational activities on the river has led to many of the safety concerns.

Stark State fuel cells
Stark State website

The Fuel Cell Prototyping Center at Stark State College in North Canton is closing. Since 2006 it’s been a public-private research & development facility and a lab for technology students. But at the end of the year the private-sector development partner is leaving.

The Korean conglomerate LG said this week that the development program no longer fits its corporate strategy.

solar panel
Sergey Edentod / Shutterstock

Unlikely groups are coming together to support what would be Ohio’s largest solar farm. Supporters of the project say it would give one area of the state a major boost.

Environmental advocates, business groups, and even a coal company are joining forces to support a solar farm proposal in Highland County.

Matt Evans, with the Boich Companies, a coal investor, said this would bring sorely needed jobs to Appalachia.

Supporting equipment at a drilling site
TIM RUDELL / WKSU

The Ohio EPA is considering changes to its regulations on air quality at fracking and natural gas transmissions sites.

The state Environmental Protection Agency is doing what deputy director Heidi Griesmer calls a periodic rules review. One thing it is considering has to do with changes in regulations. 

ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Three years after making the controversial decision to lower water levels at an east central Ohio lake to repair a crumbling earthen dam, the project is finished. Gov. John Kasich put the project in motion after getting a report warning of “catastrophic failure.” 

The water in Buckeye Lake was still as people walked out onto the newly reinforced natural dam, which also put more distance between homes and the shoreline.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers warned the state in 2014 of a potential dangerous collapse of the century-old dam.

A photo of Lake Erie
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

The Kasich administration says it’s disappointed in a commission’s vote Thursday to delay action on the governor’s executive order creating tougher rules on farm runoff to clean Lake Erie. But farmers say they’re already implementing water quality practices so the state still has time to work on the issue.

Ohio Farm Bureau president Frank Burkett says farmers are already taking major steps to manage their nutrients, so fertilizer doesn’t run off their land and contribute to toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie.

The Cincinnati Zoo is taking legal action to get one of its gorillas back. The zoo filed a lawsuit in a California federal court late Thursday requesting the return of a 37-year-old gorilla loaned to The Gorilla Foundation, based in Redwood City, Calif.

Mantua Village Seeking Bids for Water, Sewage Systems

Oct 24, 2018
GOOGLE EARTH

The Portage County village of Mantua decided in an emergency meeting Tuesday night to put its water and sewage systems up for bid. 

A vocal crowd of about 45 people packed Mantua village hall to discuss what to do with the aging infrastructure.

Portage County officials say they will no longer help maintain it after the end of the year. Most of the pipes are approaching the end of their life span and the village says there are other repairs and improvements to the system that will be needed.

photo of carbon emissions
JAMES KELLEY / SHUTTERSTOCK

The Trump Administration is touting a new report that shows a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions nationwide. But Ohio environmental advocates say the celebration will be short-lived because of President Trump’s new policies.

Kent State Architecture School Tapped to Lead Eco-Friendly Initiative

Oct 10, 2018
photo of KSU CAED
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

Kent State’s architecture program will help lead a new effort focused on making buildings and cities more environmentally friendly.

KSU, the University of Cincinnati and Heidelburg University will head up the Greater Ohio Living Architecture Center, or “GOLA.” It’s one of the first four centers of its kind in the country. GOLA will study the impact of growing plant ecosystems on buildings.

Funding Fuels OSU Lab's Ability to Study Lake Erie

Oct 8, 2018
photo of Gibraltar Island
GOOGLE EARTH

New funding from the state will help researchers better examine environmental problems in Lake Erie.

Ohio State’s Stone Laboratory plans to build a $1.9 million laboratory on Gibraltar Island near Put-In-Bay and use additional funds for cutting-edge new equipment.

The money comes from the Clean Lake 2020 law passed by state legislators in July.

Stone Lab director Christopher Winslow says the technology will be used to monitor the lake and study issues like harmful algal blooms. He says it’s not just Stone Lab researchers who will benefit from the new lab space.

photo of a water fountain
RISHABH MISHRA / FLICKR

New requirements aim to keep Ohioans safe from lead contamination in their drinking water.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency now requires each public water system to give residents 45 days’ notice when lead pipes will be worked on. They have to provide filters if a pipe is being replaced.

Lake Erie algal bloom
NOAA / GLERL

A crowd sourcing effort is in the works to monitor toxic algae that is polluting Lake Erie.

University of Akron science professor Hunter King and his students are developing affordable, do-it-yourself measuring devices that the public will be able to build or buy.

King says they want to get materials in the hands of volunteer groups and schools to measure local water sources.

Photo of solar panels
SERGEY EDENTOD / SHUTTERSTOCK

AEP Ohio has announced a commitment to eventually double wind and solar generation in Ohio. Supporters say the plan sends a signal around the country to clean energy companies.

AEP Ohio’s proposal is the next step in their plan to move away from coal power.

Neil Waggoner is with the Sierra Club, which agreed to support the plan in 2015. Waggoner says AEP’s project and the state’s renewable energy standards are a signal to solar and wind developers. 

photo of Edgewater Beach
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

The Alliance for the Great Lakes is hosting beach clean-up events this month – including several at locations along Lake Erie.

About 40 people came out on Saturday to clean up at Edgewater Beach. Katie Corr, an education specialist at Cleveland MetroParks Zoo, led a group of Miami University grad students who are studying environmental stewardship. She says since the MetroParks took over the beach in 2013, it’s been cleaner. But they’re still finding some of the same items each year.

photo of Kurtz Bros. landfill soil
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District’s annual open house over the weekend highlighted how the region’s water keeps improving.  And visitors also got to see how the district treats nearly two billion gallons of water each week.

Florence Expected to Have Minimal Impact on Ohio

Sep 14, 2018
NOAA / STARR

Hurricane Florence should have minimal effect on Ohio. The storm hit South Carolina Wednesday with winds of 100 miles per hour. It is slowly traveling over the state. It is supposed to swing north toward Ohio early next week. University of Akron geosciences professor David Steer says that by the time the storm reaches Ohio it won’t look like anything like a hurricane.  

Gorge Dam Project Inches Forward

Sep 14, 2018
JEFF ST.CLAIR / WKSU

A contractor has been selected to plan the next phase in the removal of the massive concrete dam that blocks the Cuyahoga River at Gorge Metro Park.

It’s an important step in creating a free flowing river.

Environmental regulators have long claimed that the Gorge dam keeps the Cuyahoga in violation of the Clean Water Act.

Behind the century-old dam is a lake full of contaminated sediment that need to be safely removed.

Designing that process is the task of CH2M, a Colorado-based construction firm with expertise in environmental cleanup.

Updated at 5:20 a.m. ET Saturday

Tropical Storm Florence is still a slow-moving giant that poses danger to people in North and South Carolina, as its storm surge and intense rains bring high floodwaters to towns both on the coast and inland.

The storm has been linked to at least five deaths, a toll that is expected to climb.

Updated at 6:40 a.m. ET on Friday

Hurricane Florence was making landfall on the North Carolina coast, bringing with it life-threatening storm surge, heavy rain and sustained winds of 90 miles per hour. Although downgraded to a Category 1 storm, the hurricane has grown larger and slowed its march inland — factors likely to contribute to potentially catastrophic flooding.

photo of Chippewa Lake
MEDINA COUNTY PARKS DISTRICT

Communities around Ohio are increasingly finding bodies of water turning toxic in late summer. Phosphorous runoff from farms creates conditions that feed harmful blooms. It’s happening repeatedly at Chippewa Lake in Medina County, which currently has an advisory indicating toxic levels that could kill pets and injure people.

A photo of the Everett Covered Bridge. It crosses Furnace Run in Ohio's Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
KENNETH KEIFER / SHUTTERSTOCK

Environmental advocates say time is running out to save a federal fund that helps improve local parks, pools, and playgrounds. 

For decades the Land and Water Conservation Fund has given a boost to improvement projects. They range in size from as small as parking lots for local swimming pools to as large as millions of dollars in improvements for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Wayne National Forest.

Ricardo Granados of the Ohio Environmental Council says, whether they know it or not, many Ohioans have likely benefited from this fund.

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