Farm runoff fuels green algae blooms in Lake Erie. Image: NOAA CoastWatch

Report: Voluntary farm runoff regulations don’t work

State programs for regulating and preventing farm runoff are falling short, according to a new report (PDF) from the Environmental Law and Policy Center and Mississippi River Collaborative. Farm runoff is a problem because it carries nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizers into lakes and bays. Once there, the nutrients can contaminate drinking water or fuel algae blooms that muck up beaches. Bacteria that break down dead blooms use up oxygen and leave behind dead zones where wildlife can’t breathe. State programs to control runoff don’t work as well as they could because they are either underfunded or aren’t mandatory, the report says.

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Satellite Watch: Spring changes on Lake Erie

A month of satellite images of Lake Erie shows a dramatic transformation.

Check out this series of images that starts with an ice-covered lake that quickly cracks apart.

As the days progress you can see the annual spring mixing of fine-grained mud that is stirred from the lake bottom and suspended in the water column.

State’s roads aim for low-salt diet

(MN) Minneapolis Star Tribune – Can a lake-loving state with snow-cursed highways go on a low-salt diet? Joe Wiita in Prior Lake thinks so, and he’d like your city to mix up a batch of his anti-icing cocktail and try it on a street near you. Amid rising concern over the effects that road salt has on Minnesota’s lakes, streams and groundwater, Wiita and other public works officials around the state are whipping up new brews to spread on pavement, moistening rock salt so it sticks better, and working to establish a less-is-more culture while striving to keep motorists safe and happy. More

Shoreview experiment may eliminate storm drains

(MN) Minnesota Star-Tribune – Shoreview is betting on a new “green” concrete paving method that lets rainwater pass right through the street surface to prevent damaging runoff. Pervious concrete — made of gravel and cement minus the sand that gives regular concrete its impenetrable density — has the porous quality of a Rice Krispies bar. Because it will allow water to drain straight to the ground below, Shoreview will install about a mile of pervious concrete streets without storm sewers in the Woodbridge neighborhood on Lake Owasso. More