Great Lakes Now Presents

Episode 1031: Pipes and Ports

Greener shipping in Indiana, the Benton Harbor lead crisis and water safety in Ontario.


Pipes and Ports – Episode 1031


Indiana’s Burns Harbor is “greening” and hoping to change the shipping industry’s image and impact. A Lake Michigan city has high lead levels in drinking water. And a visit to Ontario’s Walkerton Clean Water Centre with its customized water treatment plans and training program for technicians, all to better protect drinking water in Canadian communities.






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In the Month of November on Great Lakes Now

Click the tabs to read descriptions of each feature in Episode 1031.

A freighter on the Lake Michigan Ports of Indiana-Burns Harbor. Burns Harbor is one of the busiest ports in the Great Lakes region. (Photo Credit: Ports of Indiana – Burns Harbor)

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Sustainable Shipping

SEGMENT 1 | Burns Harbor and Portage, Indiana

Two recent industrial spills on Indiana’s shores of Lake Michigan have made headlines, but the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor is working to change the impact and image of lakefront industry by adopting new green measures. 

Burns Harbor sits on Indiana’s 45-mile Lake Michigan shoreline, and it’s surrounded by beachfront communities and Indiana Dunes National Park, an ecological gem and tourism destination.

But the port is also one of the busiest on the Great Lakes, hosting dozens of industrial operations with some 350,000 trucks passing through each year. 

Great Lakes Now Contributor Kari Lydersen reported the series “Sustainable Shipping,” and during her research visited Burns Harbor. She also spoke with a local environmentalist who is working to protect the Indiana dunes and shipping industry environmental experts at Green Marine, an international organization that aims to make the maritime industry more environmentally friendly. 

Here are Lydersen’s articles:

Green Marine: Are voluntary efforts enough to improve port sustainability?

Sustainable Shipping: Burns Harbor port tries to green Indiana’s industrial coast

Sustainable Shipping: At the Port of Milwaukee the wind blows toward a greener future

Sustainable Shipping: The Port of Montreal’s role as the Great Lakes’ green gateway

This work is supported, in part, by the Solutions Journalism Network.


Here is other Great Lakes Now work on ports and the shipping industry:

Stalled Ships: Shipping industry looks to infrastructure investments to boost demand

In Progress: New Soo Lock looks at 2030 completion

Duckling Docks: Toronto installs floating docks to save drowning birds

Due to high levels of lead in the drinking water, residents in Benton Harbor are being advised to avoid drinking or cooking with tap water until further notice. State officials and local activists are organizing areas where residents can pick up cases of bottled water.

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Benton Harbor Water Crisis

SEGMENT 2 | Benton Harbor, Michigan

Benton Harbor’s water problems aren’t new. Lead levels were high in 2018, and the state handed out filters then.

But now that it’s 2021 and levels remain high, city residents and activists are demanding action.

MLive’s Garret Ellison has been following the story, and Great Lakes Now followed him to Benton Harbor, where residents are urged to use bottled water for drinking and cooking.

This Lake Michigan city isn’t alone. Most municipalities have lead service lines that can lead to lead in drinking water. How to replace them and pay for them are the big questions, Ellison reports.


Here is other Great Lakes Now work on Benton Harbor and lead issues:

Docs: Benton Harbor water response marked by delays, poor messaging

Benton Harbor on edge as lead water crisis persists

All Great Lakes Now Work about Lead in Your Water

Water scientists work at the Walkerton Clean Water Centre to create customized water treatment plans based on the needs of various municipal drinking water suppliers throughout Ontario. (Photo Credit: Walkerton Clean Water Centre)

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Preventing Future Water Crises

SEGMENT 3 | Walkerton, Ontario, Canada

How can financially-strapped communities with aging or inadequate water systems prevent crises like Flint and Benton Harbor? In Ontario, the Walkerton Clean Water Centre was established to help answer that question.

The facility is where water technicians from throughout Ontario learn to monitor, test and improve drinking water supplies.

Bridge Michigan Environmental Reporter Kelly House talked with Centre CEO Carl Kuhnke and Manager of Research and Technology Souleymane Ndiongue.

“If there were more centers like the Walkerton Clean Water Center in Canada and in the United States, I think that would be a start to improvement across both of our countries,” says Kuhnke.


Here is other Great Lakes Now work on drinking water:

From NPR: Check if you have lead pipes in your home

Water Access: As moratoria on shutoffs end, old problems return to the forefront

All Great Lakes Now’s Drinking Water Stories

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The Great Lakes Now Series is produced by Rob Green and Sandra Svoboda.