Elizabeth Miller

Great Lakes Today Reporter/Producer

Elizabeth grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and remembers camping with her family and searching for beach glass during childhood trips to the Lake Erie islands. She joined ideastream after a stint at NPR headquarters in Washington D.C., where she was an intern on the National Desk, pitching stories about everything from a gentrified Brooklyn deli to an app for lost dogs. Before that, she covered weekend news at WAKR in Akron. Elizabeth graduated from Baldwin Wallace University. 

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The buildup of nutrients in western Lake Erie can trigger algae growth – and contaminate drinking water in nearby cities.  That happened as recently as 2014, when Toledo residents could not drink their water for two days.

Researchers say agriculture is largely to blame, so Ohio is requiring farmers to take special training. But it’s not clear that approach will work.

John Nicholls/Shutterstock

The Great Lakes shipping season officially kicks off Monday with the opening of the Welland Canal, the shipping channel that connects Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.

This is the earliest the Canal has opened – matching the March 20th opening in 2007. But since the winter has been so mild, shipping locally has continued throughout the region.  

The Trump Administration’s proposed budget is out – and it eliminates the $300 million in annual funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), which finances environmental projects all over the region.

The budget also zeroes out the $250 million allotted to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) grants, including 33 Sea Grant programs nationwide. Based at universities, Sea Grant programs focus on educating the public, outreach and research. 

Groups representing mayors, governors, and Great Lakes states are descending on Washington this week to push back against reported budget cuts for environmental programs. 

Tuesday begins three days of speakers and presentations at the Great Lakes Commission’s semi-annual meeting. It also means three days of meetings with Congress and the Trump administration to promote the region’s priorities, including money for infrastructure and an initiative to restore the health of the lakes.

Concerns about the Great Lakes continue to dominate the news, from a leaked list of EPA budget cuts to a cautious message from an Ohio scientist. This week, a Republican congressman from Ohio and a scientist with Ohio Sea Grant agreed on the importance of continuing to fund the Great Lakes cleanup.

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