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Each lake has its own particular trouble spots and pollution problems.
Experiments are designed and courses charted to best study these.
Nearly every future action taken to preserve and improve water quality
in the Great Lakes will be influenced by the findings of the Rachel Carson
and other elements of the monitoring program. This information, marking
how the lakes are responding to treatment programs and what new problems
are developing, is vital if we wish to wisely invest the billions of dollars
being spent to protect the Great Lakes.
Fire has raged on the oily surface of the Cuyahoga, a tributary of Lake Erie.
High mercury and PCB levels in Lake Michigan have turned its fish into a
hazardous meal. Even Lake Superior, the cleanest of the Great Lakes, is plagued
by asbestos like fibers. But the Great Lakes are not yet lost. A new Great Lakes
pollution fighter and a new approach to pollution problems are painting a
brighter future for this priceless resource.
The new weapon is the Rachel Carson, a laboratory equipped research
vessel which has launched a 2-year program of intensive analysis on Lake Erie.
This is part of an international study underway to determine the cause and effect
of pollution on Lake Erie and in turn is a portion of a program aimed at monitoring
the entire system of Great Lakes. Monitoring the condition of a lake and collecting
data are the first steps in developing water quality goals, requirements, and
THE RACHEL CARSON
The Rachel Carson, formerly the USS Crockett, is
the largest U.S. limnological vessel on the Great
Lakes. It is 165 feet long and 24 feet wide. She
houses laboratories as well as a staff of 8 operating
crewmen and 8 to 15 scientists and technicians.
Her size enables most of the sample analyses to be
completed within the ship's laboratories, contribu-
ting to the efficiency and accuracy of such
measurements as bacterial growth which are
affected by time and environment. Dissolved oxygen,
Ph, alkalinity, specific conductivity, silica, reactive
phosphorous, ammonia, nitrates & nitrites, total heterotrophs, and Biological
Oxygen Demand are among the measurements completed on board ship. In
addition to her size the Rachel Carson has an advantage over many other
ships because she is lightweight and can travel at greater speeds. Her weight
permits her to draw only 9 feet of water. This enables her to work near shore as
well as in the deepest parts of the lake. An auxilliary boat will enable her to
collect samples from water less than 5 feet deep. Region V of the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency received the ship, a former U.S. Navy patrol
gunboat, during July of 1977 at Norfolk, Virginia.
PROBLEM AREAS IN THE GREAT LAKES
•low oxygen* •
* SI, MARY'S RIVER
MILWAUKEE HARBOR I
HAUXEGAN HARBOR (
TORONTO HftfiBOR AKO WATERFRONT >
HAMILTON HARBOR ,
f ASHTA8ULA RIVER
In order to make effective decisions regarding pollution emission standards and
guidelines, the EPA must have an accurate idea of toxicity levels in the lake.
The Great Lakes surveillance effort which is already underway will not only
provide this information but will give an indication of how pollution levels are
changing with time. This U.S. study, conducted in conjunction with Canada, is
on a nine year cycle, with at least one year of intensive research being done on
each lake. At the present time Lake Erie is under inspection.
The Rachel Carson handles the open water portion of the Great Lakes
monitoring program. The near shore analyses are done by Heidelburg University,
Ohio State, and State University of New York at Buffalo, all experienced in
environmental research. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) is studying the currents in the lake. Finally, the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is trying to develop remote sensing
techniques to determine chlorophyll concentrations in the lakes via satellite.
In addition to the Rachel Carson,
the EPA owns 4 other research
vessels: The Roger R. Simons, a former
Coast Guard buoy tender, currently on
loan to Heidelburg University in Tiffin,
Ohio; and 3 other vessels also loaned
out to various Universities for research
purposes. Before the Lake Erie study
began, the Simons spent 2 years
monitoring the water quality of Lake
Michigan to compare current results
with those of the past. Evidence of the
study indicates that the lake is showing
considerable improvement in nearshore
areas, but the open water portions of
the lake have not yet begun to improve.
Both the Rachel Carson and the Simons are currently working on Lake Erie.
Between April and November of 1978, the Rachel Carson will complete 9 10-day
cruises on the lake, docking nightly at one of the following ports: Cleveland, Ohio;
Fairport, Ohio; Port Stanley, Ontario; Erie, Pennsylvania; Buffalo, New York;
Lorain, Ohio; and Monroe, Michigan.
At the end of 1979, when Lake Erie studies are completed, she will move on to
1978 Lake Erie
1979 Lake Erie
1980 Lake Huron
1981 Lake Ontario (tentative)*
1982 Lake Ontario (tentative)*
1983 Lake Superior
1984 Connecting Channels (Lake St. Clair, St. Clair River, Detroit River, etc.)
1985 Lake Michigan
1986 Lake Michigan
* Canada may handle this portion of the program. If so, related research
may be conducted by the Rachel Carson at this time.