Month: March 2016

Clean Water Tech Funding Awarded in U.S.

Yesterday’s Canadian Federal Budget saw unprecedented commitment to clean energy tech. Recent funding awarded in the U.S. indicates the push is happening on both sides of the border. On March 21st, two water tech projects were awarded funding by The Water Council, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, and the Fund for Lake Michigan. The first winner, Veolia Water Milwaukee/OptiRTC, Inc, aims to “enhance the performance of Green Infrastructure by reducing wet-weather discharge.” Solar Water Works’ proposal employs – you guessed it – solar power to disinfect storm water.

The press release below details the competition grounds; profiles the winners and their proposed projects; what winners will receive in support and funding; background info on the push for development and commercialization of new water tech prototypes; and information on the partner agencies listed above.

For full details, read on:

Meghan Jensen (414) 988-8754


Pilot Deployment Program selects two winners to move water technology working prototypes,
to real world pilot sites

MILWAUKEE, WI, MARCH 21, 2016 – The Water Council, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) and the Fund for Lake Michigan (FFLM) today announced two winners that best align with The Water Council’s Pilot Deployment Program’s goal to address integrated water solutions through innovation, application and demonstration, while maintaining a cost-efficient, scalable and deployable model.

Applicants were asked to respond to one of the following areas of emphasis: Intelligent Stormwater Green Infrastructure; Stormwater Quality; or Stormwater Quantity. A diverse, independent panel of judges from A. O. Smith Corporation, We Energies, City of Milwaukee, Fund for Lake Michigan and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, conducted a competitive analysis of each proposal. After two deductive rounds of voting, the following two projects were selected for funding:

  • Veolia Water Milwaukee / OptiRTC, Inc. (Milwaukee, WI / Boston, MA) – Rain:Net powered by Opti will actively control and monitor stormwater discharge from Green Infrastructure based on sensor and satellite data and weather forecast information. This technology will enhance the performance of Green Infrastructure by reducing wet-weather discharge. The status and performance of Green Infrastructure outfitted with Rain:Net will be available to view on dynamic web-dashboards.
  • Solar Water Works (Madison, WI) – Utilizing a solar-powered, catalytic oxidation process for stormwater disinfection, Solar Water Works will measure reaction rate constants for disinfection of two types of bacteria. Data collected will be used for the design and economic analysis of larger-scale stormwater maintenance implementations.

“Technology innovation is a challenging process in such a legacy industry as water and the commercialization process can be long and difficult,” said Dean Amhaus, president and CEO of The Water Council. “The Pilot Program aims to bring efficiency and much needed funding, advisory support and designated demonstration sites to our companies, in order to launch new technologies to market.”

Winners of the Pilot Program receive:

  • Funds to develop and deploy a prototype of their technology (cash/in-kind match required)
  • Access to key demonstration sites across Milwaukee through our Partners
  • Support from The Water Council’s vast water technology network
  • Validation of their technologies through demonstration
  • Opportunity for small-scale manufacture of final product

“By coordinating efforts, the District, the Fund for Lake Michigan, and The Water Council can leverage funding and expertise to accelerate the deployment of technologies needed to solve problems, create new business, and improve water quality,” said John Hermes, MMSD Commission Chair. “Collaboration on research projects ultimately can help MMSD achieve long range goals and strategic objectives to cost effectively protect public health and improve our rivers and Lake Michigan.”

In August 2015, The Water Council announced a partnership with MMSD and Fund for Lake Michigan that would provide $600,000 in joint funding over two years to advance new, clean water technologies through the Pilot Program. The first year of the Program was launched in January 2015 through a Clean Technology & Innovation grant from Wells Fargo.

“We’re thrilled to partner with MMSD and The Water Council on this pilot program,” said Vicki Elkin, executive director of the Fund for Lake Michigan. “I honestly believe that these technologies could prove to be game changers in how we manage major rain events and prevent pollution from fouling our rivers and beaches.”

The Pilot Program catalyzes companies and professionals that are developing new products to be able to bring these new innovations to market quicker. 2016 Pilot Deployment Program winners will receive $182,385 collectively that will help to create 12 demonstration sites around the city of Milwaukee beginning in Spring 2016.


About The Water Council
The Water Council was established in 2009 by Milwaukee-area businesses, education and government leaders. The nonprofit organization, consisting of more than 180 members, links together global water technology companies, innovative water entrepreneurs, acclaimed academic research programs and, most importantly, some of the nation’s brightest and most energetic water professionals. The Water Council is capturing the attention of the world and transforming the Milwaukee region into a World Water Hub for freshwater research, economic development and education.

About Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District
MMSD is a regional government agency that provides water reclamation and flood management services for about 1.1 million people in 28 communities in the Greater Milwaukee Area. Since 1994, MMSD has captured and cleaned 98.3% of all the water and wastewater that has entered the regional sewer system. The goal nationally is to capture and clean 85%. The District serves 411 square miles that cover all, or segments of, six watersheds.

About Fund for Lake Michigan
The Fund for Lake Michigan, a private foundation based in Milwaukee, was established in 2011as part of an agreement between We Energies, Madison Gas and Electric, WPPI Energy, Clean Wisconsin and Sierra Club to safeguard the lake and improve water quality in the region. The Fund has awarded more than $12 million in grants over the past four years for projects ranging from the restoration of Cat Island in Green Bay to the revitalization of Simmons Beach in Kenosha.

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Duke Offering Free Online Marine Planning Module

Hey students, academics, and marine enthusiasts! Duke University is offering a free online course about marine planning starting April 6th. There are 3 separate 90-minute modules that must be completed by July 31st, 2016. You have the freedom and flexibility to complete the material on your own schedule – there isn’t a weekly time/date commitment to review, or assignments due. Preview the course and register for free below!

Duke’s press release reads as follows:


The Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University’s Executive Education (Exec Ed) program in partnership with the Natural Capital Project is excited to announce a new online learning opportunity that will apply nature’s value to regional marine planning efforts using real-world case study examples.

Course Name: 
Case Studies Integrating Nature’s Value into Marine Planning

Access Dates:
April 6th, 2016 – July 31st, 2016

Learning Format: 
Three separate 90-minute online learning modules will be released to registered participants starting April 6, 2016. Each module builds on the previous by introducing key concepts and in-depth analysis of real-life marine planning processes in North and Latin America, Asia and Africa. Optional technical assessment at the end of each module will be available for those interested in practicing basic spatial analysis (GIS mapping). This course will not have any required meeting times or group assignments – learning is self-paced and on your own time! However, all content must be completed by July 31, 2016. Participants who complete all 3 modules will receive a statement of accomplishment.

Preview the introductory module HERE

This opportunity is available at no cost*.  Register Here  

About the Course

This online short course is a partnership between the Natural Capital Project and the DEL Executive Education program.  Learners will have the opportunity to interact explore coastal Belize and other marine planning use-cases, interacting with real data, legal frameworks and decision-support tools.  Participants can practice applying marine planning mapping techniques, tools, and activities such as stakeholder engagement, information management/synthesis, tradeoff analysis and outreach.
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Commercial Shipping Season Underway in Duluth, MN

The Duluth Seaway Port Authority sent us this press release, celebrating the official opening of their 2016 shipping season March 22nd. The release reports that the Welland Canal opened March 21st, and that the Montreal/Lake Ontario section of the St. Lawrence Seaway opens today, March 23rd.

The Port Authority reports some solid statistics on the economic benefits of shipping traffic through the Duluth port:Close to 1,000 ships visit the Port of Duluth-Superior each year, moving roughly 38 million tons of cargo on average each year – iron ore, coal, grain, limestone, cement, salt, plus project cargo and more. As the largest tonnage port on the Great Lakes-Seaway, cargo movements through the Port of Duluth-Superior support 11,500 jobs and contribute over $1.5 billion in business revenues to the local/regional economy.”

The press release reads as follows: (image credit P. Scinocca, from the DSPA press release. First ship out of the season – the Edwin H Gott.)

For Release: March 21, 2016   

Contact: Adele Yorde, Duluth Seaway Port Authority PR Director (218) 727-8525 or (218) 390-6973

2016 Commercial Shipping Season gets underway Tuesday in Port of Duluth-Superior

Duluth, Minn., USA (March 21, 2016)— The first two U.S.-flag lakers are on schedule to depart the Port of Duluth-Superior tomorrow, Tuesday, March 22, signaling the start of the 2016 commercial shipping season at this, the farthest inland port on the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway (GLSLS) system.

Shortly after 7 a.m., theEdwin H. Gott, is scheduled to move from its winter berth at the Clure Public Marine Terminal – first to fuel, then to depart mid-morning beneath Duluth’s famed Aerial Bridge en route to the CN Dock in Two Harbors to load iron ore pellets. Shortly thereafter, another ship in the Great Lakes Fleet, the Philip R. Clark, also will fuel and head to Two Harbors. Both vessels, with deliveries to make to steel mills on the Lower Lakes, will proceed across Lake Superior toward Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., to ‘line up’ in a downbound queue to await the opening of the Soo Locks at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, March 25. [Note: The Welland Canal opened at 8 a.m. today; the Montreal/Lake Ontario section of the St. Lawrence Seaway opens Wednesday.]

ThePaul R. Tregurtha, which spent winter layup at the Superior Midwest Energy Terminal, is scheduled to load coal there on Thursday before departing that evening for the St. Clair Power Plant in Michigan. Two additional vessels that wintered over in the Twin Ports – the Kaye E. Barker and the American Century – are scheduled to depart later this month. TheHerbert C. Jackson, which is undergoing a major repowering project at Fraser Shipyards, won’t sail until sea trials are completed in June.

From the list of vessels heading upbound through the Soo Locks, it looks like the Port will welcome its first twoinbound lakers over the weekend with anticipated arrivals of the Stewart J. Cort and theBurns Harbor on Saturday. The first Canadian laker should arrive early next week. It’s difficult to predict with any certainty at this point in time the arrival of the Port’s firstsaltie, which must still cross the Atlantic and transit the full length of the waterway.

[NOTE: All vessel arrival/departure times are estimates and may change without notice.] 

The Soo Locks provide a pivotal gateway forlakers  – some of which measure more than 1,000 feet in length – to move raw materials like iron ore, coal, limestone, cement and salt between Lake Superior and Lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie. It is one of a total of 16 sets of locks along the entire Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway that allow salties to move breakbulk and project cargoes in and out of North America’s heartland and deliver Midwestern grains to Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

“Despite warm temps and virtually ice-free conditions across the Lakes, we couldn’t compensate for the downturn in iron ore last year. Sub-par growth in China coupled with the dumping of foreign steel into U.S. markets caused a commodity recession across the board. Those declines in production at mines and mills are reflected in overall 2015 tonnage for the Port of Duluth-Superior being off more than 12 percent last year,” said Vanta Coda, Duluth Seaway Port Authority executive director.

“There are still some formidable challenges along the Great Lakes, but nowhere near what the fleets were facing last year,” he added. “Our Congressional delegation led the charge in taking significant trade action in the past six months which has made huge inroads with unfair global trade practices. We all anticipate a slow start to the 2016 shipping season as headwinds still exist in commodity pricing, but the steel market and U.S. producers should begin to stabilize this year.”


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Budget 2016: What’s in store for the Great Lakes?

Yesterday, the Canadian federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled the 2016 Budget. The Liberal government aims to keep most of its green election platforms, outlined in Chapter 4 of the budget. Entitled ‘Clean Growth Economy’, this section of the budget can be found online here.

Great Lakes interests were included in a few key areas. Ocean and Freshwater Research were promised $197.1 million; commitments to reduce phosphorus in Lake Erie totalled $3.1 million; and $19.5 million will be allocated to the International Joint Commission, which manages transboundary water issues.

Pulled from the Chapter, see these verbatim commitments:

“Investing in Ocean and Freshwater Research

Oceans and waterways are vital to Canada’s economy. They connect us with global markets and are a resource for coastal and Indigenous communities. Scientific evidence is the foundation on which the Government develops policies around the management and protection of the oceans, coasts, waterways and fisheries to ensure that they are healthy, sustainable and profitable for future generations.

Budget 2016 proposes to provide $197.1 million over five years, starting in 2016–17, to Fisheries and Oceans Canada to increase ocean and freshwater science, monitoring and research activities and to provide support for the Experimental Lakes Area in Northwestern Ontario. Funding will support new and expanded research activities that will promote the health of fish stocks and sustainable aquaculture, enable more comprehensive monitoring of the impacts of aquatic pollution, and enhance our knowledge of freshwater ecosystems.

Improving Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health

Millions of Canadians live and work along the shores of the Great Lakes. Protecting water quality and ecosystem health in the Great Lakes is vital to ensuring that Canadians can continue to depend on this rich ecosystem for their drinking water, for recreation and for jobs.

To date, phosphorus levels in Lake Erie have been measured and reduction targets have been established. To help preserve the Great Lakes as a valuable resource, Budget 2016 proposes to provide $3.1 million in 2016–17 to Environment and Climate Change Canada to continue to improve nearshore water and ecosystem health by reducing phosphorus and the resulting algae in Lake Erie. With these resources, the focus will shift from setting phosphorus targets to achieving them, including developing a domestic action plan, and monitoring and reporting on progress. Lessons learned from phosphorus reduction in Lake Erie could be applied to the other Great Lakes.

Managing Transboundary Water Issues

Canada and the United States share 20 per cent of the world’s freshwater in the Great Lakes alone, and jointly manage countless other lakes and rivers. The International Joint Commission is the binational body that manages these Canada-U.S. transboundary waters. These waters are of great economic, environmental and symbolic value to Canadians, and how we manage them is of utmost importance. In recent years, flooding, variable water levels and water quality have affected four important water basins that straddle the Canada-U.S. border—the Upper Great Lakes, Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River, Lake of the Woods and the Souris River.

Budget 2016 proposes to provide up to $19.5 million over five years, starting in 2016–17, to the International Joint Commission to enable Canada to match U.S. funding to study these issues in order to protect the local environment and communities.”

Other highlights include:

  • huge funding for accelerated clean energy tech development, implementation, and use;
  • infrastructure for electric vehicles and alternative-fueled modes of transport;
  • tax support for clean energy initiatives; research investment for clean, sustainable tech;
  • developing cleaner oil & gas tech;
  • reducing greenhouse gases, reduce air pollution; and improving air quality;
  • seeking cleaner public transportation options;
  • energy efficient and renewable energy development;
  • developing new national parks and providing free access to existing ones in 2017 for 150th anniversary;
  • support for the environmental assessment agency moving forward.

The Budget 2016 homepage, which links to all Liberal commitments, can be found here.

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CBC SuperiorMorning Coverage re: Mercury Contamination

In honour of World Water Day and Canada Water Week, Lisa Laco of CBC Superior Morning took the time to chat with us about the Thunder Bay Public Advisory Committee’s letter to the editor, MPPs, and Port Authority. The Public Advisory Committee is made up of a cross section of public interests, including industrial representatives (i.e. Resolute), sport fishers, educational authorities, and more.

RAP Coordinator Jim Bailey, speaking on behalf of PAC co-chairs Jean Hall-Armstrong and Frank Edgson, identified the PAC’s decades-long quest to have mercury contamination in Thunder Bay’s North Harbour identified, researched, and recommended on – all while waiting for clean up action to take place.

Looking for answers and accountability, Thunder Bay’s PAC has called a meeting tomorrow, March 23rd, to discuss the mercury clean up. A presentation will be made by Wildlife Toxicology Expert Doug Crump on the effects of contaminants on herring gull eggs. The meeting will be held at Lakehead University’s ATAC building, room 3004, from 7-9pm. All are welcome.

CBC posted a news article summarizing the interview. Take a gander. Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 11.29.20 AM

Thanks to Lisa and CBC Superior Morning for chatting with us!

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Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act Letter

Several agencies have signed a letter asking Congressional members to pass the Great Lakes Restoration Act. The following press release was sent to us by a representative of the Environmental Protection Agency (the pdf is attached below):
Ann Arbor, Mich. –  A coalition of Great Lakes states, cities, tribes, business, industry, and conservation leaders today called on congressional leaders to pass the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act, bipartisan legislation recently approved by committees in both the House and Senate.  The bill would authorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), a successful and popular program that is helping states and local partners clean up degraded toxic hotspots, restore habitat for fish and wildlife, thwart Asian carp and other invasive species, and prevent polluted runoff that can close beaches and cause harmful algal blooms in the eight-state Great Lakes region.
“Restoring the Great Lakes creates jobs, stimulates economic development, and protects fresh drinking water for 30 million people,” reads the letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. “The lakes currently generate more than 1.5 million jobs and $60 billion in wages annually, and provide the foundation for a $30 billion tourism economy. The Great Lakes are an invaluable resource worth restoring and protecting, and this legislation is critical to sustaining our collective efforts toward this end. We urge you to support passage of this legislation in the current session of Congress.”
GLRI efforts have been underway since 2010, funded annually by the program’s inclusion in the President’s budget and with broad bipartisan support from Congress. The bills approved by House and Senate committees will remove the annual uncertainty and help ensure continued support for the program by the next administration.  The coalition is urging congressional leaders to take action now to pass the bipartisan legislation—H.R. 223 sponsored by Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio) and S. 1024 sponsored by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.)—before congressional actions slow during the run up to the  fall election.
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Letter to Editor re Harbour Mercury Contamination

Join us to discuss on March 23rd at Lakehead University, ATAC 3004 – 7-9pm. Event is free!

Note the slider (top right) in the document viewer to expand text size. Having trouble viewing the letter? View the text of the letter here.

The above letter regarding lack of cleanup action for mercury contamination in Thunder Bay Harbour appeared in the March 19th Letters to the Editor section of Thunder Bay’s Chronicle-Journal daily newspaper. The letter is from the Public Advisory committee to the Thunder Bay Remedial Action Plan and is signed by committee co-chairs Jean Hall-Armstrong and Frank Edgson. An introduction to the letter notes the letter had already been sent to:

  • Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada: Hon. Catherine McKenna
  • Minister of Transport: Hon. Marc Garneau
  • Minister of Environment and Climate Change Ontario: Glen R. Murray
  • Thunder Bay Superior-North MP: Patti Hajdu
  • Thunder Bay – Rainy River MP: Don Rusnak
  • Thunder Bay Superior-North MPP: Hon. Michael Gravelle
  • Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP: Hon. Bill Mauro
  • Thunder Bay Port Authority: CEO Tim Heney, Director of Engineering & Habour Master Guy Jarvis


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Waukesha Diversion: Public Notice Served for April Meeting

With the Waukesha Diversion deadlines barrelling down on provincial premiers and state governors, a public notice has been served to identify the time and place for final discussions. The meetings will be a month from now, on April 21st-22nd, held between two campuses of University of Chicago-Illinois.

The Municipality of Waukesha is attempting to divert water from Lake Michigan. If the bid is accepted, it would be the first time in history water has been diverted to a community outside the Great Lakes Basin.

At the April meetings, premiers and governors will be discussing Waukesha’s bid. The public was asked for their input up until March 14th. The Ontario Government is expected to weigh in tomorrow, March 22nd, after consulting with the public, First Nations, and Metis people. Twitter users have taken to the internet to protest, appealing to Kathleen Wynne to reject it.

The document sent to us by the GLIN is attached below. The notice reads, verbatim, as follows:

Public Notice is hereby jointly given on behalf of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council (“Compact Council”) under the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact (“Compact”) and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Water Resources Regional Body (“Regional Body”) under the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement (“Agreement”) that the meeting noticed on January 7, 2016 and scheduled to begin on April 21, 2016 and continue on April 22, 2016 will take place at:
April 21, 2016 1:00 p.m. CDT
April 22, 2016 9:00 a.m. CDT
University of Illinois-Chicago
Student Center East
750 S. Halsted – Illinois AB
Chicago, IL 60607
University of Illinois-Chicago
Student Center West
828 S. Wolcott Avenue – Thompson AB
Chicago, IL 60612
If resolution is not reached by April 22, 2016, the Regional Body will recess and continue its meeting on May 10 and 11, 2016.  The location of the continued meeting will be announced on the Waukesha Diversion Website at
If any person with a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act needs special accommodations to participate in the meeting, then he or she should contact the Secretariat in advance, so that accommodation can be made.
Issued March 18, 2016.
By: Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers, as Secretariat to the Regional Body and Compact Council
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New Lamprey Control Tool, GLFC Reports

Remember those nasty sea lampreys CBC reported on last week? The Great Lakes Fishery Commission has an entire section of their site devoted to educating the public on this invasive species. It includes general information about the lamprey and why it causes such massive problems in the Great Lakes; methods devoted to controlling and eradicating the lamprey problem; tracking the status of elimination efforts; and a forum to unite lamprey trappers.
Now, they’re offering another great resource in the fight against sea lampreys. Their online newsletter boasts a new article touting an effective new tool to control lamprey effects. Click here to visit the article directly, and check out the rest of their newsletter!
From the desk of the GLFC:
The Great Lakes Fishery Commission is pleased to announce a new article, Eel-Ladder Style Traps: A New Lamprey Control Tool, has been added to its electronic newsletter, eForum. Available on the GLFC website, contains articles related to the commission’s program, Great Lakes fishing, and the long-term sustainability of this incredible resource.
Also, if you haven’t already, please take a moment to follow the commission on Facebook and Twitter (see links below). We will use these and other outlets to announce updates to the newsletter and the availability of other commission products.
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Cruise Registration for American Scientists til 04/15

Attention young American scientists: UNOLS is offering an opportunity to further your shipboard field work prowess. The cruises will operate out of Duluth, MN and Milwaukee, WI. Small stipends are provided for travel costs, research supplies, and shipping. See details below:
UNOLS Great Lakes Chief Scientist Training Cruises
Application deadline: April 15th, 2016
New to planning shipboard field work?  Wondering how to request research vessel time, or specific pieces of equipment? Need samples or data to initiate a research project? If so, take part in the “2016 UNOLS Great Lakes Chief Scientist Training Cruises.” These cruises and pre-cruise information workshops will instruct early career marine scientists (including PhD students, post docs, and 1st or 2nd year faculty members) on how to effectively plan for, acquire, and utilize time at sea for multi-disciplinary research and education. The program will occur from June 12th to July 2nd, 2016, and participants will register for one of 4 separate 3 or 4 day cruises using the University of Minnesota’s R/V Blue Heron on Lakes Superior or Michigan, as well as a pre-cruise workshop for each cruise.  The program will take place in Duluth, Minnesota, home port of the R/V Blue Heron, as well as Milwaukee, Wisconsin.    Small stipends are provided for participant travel costs, research supplies and shipping. Space is limited.  To apply you must be an employee or student (US Citizen or permanent resident) at a U.S. institution or a U.S. citizen working abroad. To be considered, applications must be received by April 15th, 2016.  The application form is available at:
Email Doug Ricketts with questions
P.S. – if you are a later-career scientist in the Great Lakes basin and you want to explore working on the big lakes, please contact Doug Ricketts so that we can explore future opportunities.
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