For decades, scientists have studied the effects that livestock farms with large animal concentrations in Iowa and other states have on regional water quality, as increasing amounts of waste flow into rivers and groundwater. Now activists and some lawmakers say emergency measures are needed to stop toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie, dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay, and threats to drinking water in rural communities. In some states, lawmakers worry about the future of smaller family farms.

WSV’s Steph Hightree writes, “This past summer I finally started letting my daughter stay home by herself. I would be lying if I said I don’t think of every possible thing that could go wrong before I leave the house though. When does protecting them too much start to hinder their growth process? Has worry and fear taken over my life? Am I putting my child’s happiness in a bottle and locking it up until they are old enough to move out of the house? Am I taking away their ability to become risk takers or confidant adventurers all because I let my fear and worry take over my life? I think the answer is yes, at least a little bit.”

A proposed wastewater treatment plant under consideration by the Village of Mattawan is under fire from a range of critics. Recent village meetings have seen lengthy public comment periods, during which village residents and residents of nearby areas have largely voiced opposition to the plant. Currently, the Village pumps its wastewater to the Kalamazoo treatment system. However, village officials say a six-mile portion of the “forcemain” which connects the two systems requires considerable work to remain in operation.

One of the St. Joseph County Road Commission’s (SJCRC) leading staff recently received the top award in the state for a rural road engineer. At a regular SJCRC meeting Wednesday morning, board members learned that Assistant Director and Engineer Garrett Myland received the “Rural Engineer of the Year” award from the County Road Association of Michigan (CRA). An award also goes to the “Urban Engineer of the Year,” but for the “Rural” title, Myland won over engineers in similar positions all around the state.

WSV’s Amy East writes about a new addition she plans to make to her garden this year. “This year I’m trying amaranth, and since the ‘approximate seed count’ in the bag is 1,200, I won’t be growing just two or three. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what I’m getting myself into with this adventure. And it will be an adventure. There will be the anticipation of planting, excitement as new sprouts poke up out of the ground, frustration of trying to determine weeds from plants, swear words flying in anger as my chickens inevitably discover the plants, and, always, the uncertainty of when to harvest and how to best preserve and cook it.”

To better support the millions of Michiganders struggling to make ends meet, the state should expand apprenticeship opportunities for inmates while they are incarcerated, end asset tests for food assistance, and increase affordable housing for low-income families and people without housing, among a series of other initiatives, according to a newly released report from the Michigan Poverty Task Force.

Three Rivers City Commissioners Clayton Lyczynski and Alison Haigh questioned whether Three Rivers Downtown Development Authority Chair Andrew George should be reappointed during Tuesday’s commission meeting. Lyczynski cited George’s involvement in a suit filed against the city concerning a petition to place a marijuana ordinance on last November’s ballot, questioning George’s “integrity” and “desire to do what’s best for the city.”