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(Josh McCausland / Unsplash)

Lake Michigan is doing the most to keep us entertained during the bleak mid-winter. First came pancake ice and now it’s serving up ice balls the size of boulders.

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(WTTW News)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has allocated $225.8 million to the Brandon Road Lock and Dam invasive carp barrier. The funds will complete the planning and engineering phase of the project.

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Ice formations in Lake Michigan in Chicago taken by Sharan Banagiri. He told CNN these photos were taken at Loyola Beach at Rogers Park, which is about 10 miles north of downtown Chicago. (Credit: Sharan Banagiri)

You’ve heard of blizzards and maybe even the polar vortex, but have you heard of ice pancakes? What about ice bites or ice jams? These unique names sound fascinating but require specific weather conditions.

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Environmentalists Vow to Keep Fighting

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An aerial view of the Chicago Area Confined Disposal Facility, a 45-acre site on Chicago’s Southeast Side that has been in operation since 1984. Inset: The CDF is outlined in red. (Credit: Army Corps of Engineers)

A 20-year extension of the dump, operated by the Army Corps of Engineers to hold toxic sludge dredged from Lake Michigan, is still under review. The dump was supposed to be retired in 2022 and turned over to the Chicago Park District for redevelopment.

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In this Sept. 21, 2017 file photo, the BP Whiting refinery in East Chicago, Ind., is shown on Sept. 21, 2017. Oil giant BP agreed Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, to pay a $512,450 penalty and reduce soot emissions from its Whiting refinery in Indiana under an agreement with regulators and activists who accused the company of violating an earlier deal. (DroneBase via AP, File)

The U.S. District Court settlement modifies a previous consent decree that required BP Products North America Inc. to limit releases from the sprawling facility on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan.

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Rough waves coughed up the remains of one of Lake Michigan’s most troubling invasive species, quagga mussels. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Recent storm waves stirred up deposits of invasive mussels from the bottom of Lake Michigan and brought them ashore, begging the question: Would you know a quagga mussel if you saw one?

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(Kaique Rocha / Pexels)

Mother Nature is throwing the kitchen sink at Chicago, weather-wise, to kick off the work week.

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U.S. Steel Midwest Plant on the shore of Lake Michigan, with the Indiana Dunes Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk Trail in the foreground, in 2019. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

The Chicago Department of Water Management is calling on the EPA to make protection of Lake Michigan from industrial pollution a priority after U.S. Steel’s Midwest Plant experienced two leaks in two weeks into a waterway that feeds into the region’s source of drinking water.

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U.S. Steel Midwest Plant on the shore of Lake Michigan, with the Indiana Dunes Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk Trail in the foreground, in 2019. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

For the second time in two weeks, Indiana Dunes National Park has had to close its beaches due to an unknown substance leaking into the water along its Portage shoreline. 

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U.S. Steel Midwest Plant on the shore of Lake Michigan, with the Indiana Dunes Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk Trail in the foreground, in 2019. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

The Environmental Protection Agency confirmed the “reddish-orange discharge” that poured into Lake Michigan on Sunday from a steel plant in Portage, Indiana, was caused by high levels of iron, and says there’s no indication of health risks for people who may come into direct contact with the water.

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U.S. Steel Midwest Plant on the shore of Lake Michigan, with the Indiana Dunes Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk Trail in the foreground, in 2019. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

U.S. Steel is reporting that a “rusty colored” discharge that poured into Lake Michigan on Sunday from its plant in Portage, Indiana, was due to elevated iron levels.

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Indiana Dunes National Park, with various industrial plants in the background, in 2019. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Officials from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management are investigating a “rusty colored liquid” discharged from the U.S. Steel plant in Portage, spotted Sunday evening in the Burns Waterway.

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A man rides a bike along a wave-battered lakefront in Chicago on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. (WTTW News)

The National Weather Service is warning people to steer clear of parks, trails, piers and breakwaters Wednesday and Thursday, with waves as high as 18 feet and wind gusts up to 45 miles per hour in the forecast.

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A Chicago beach sign warns people against swimming or diving in Lake Michigan. (WTTW News)

Safety officials are reminding Chicagoans that even if it still feels like summer, the lakefront’s beaches are now closed for the season to swimming, with lifeguards no longer present along the shoreline. So far in 2021, 38 people have drowned in Lake Michigan.

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Are safety signs enough? Some activists are calling for life rings along the lakefront. (WTTW News)

CEO Mike Kelly’s announcement reverses the city’s longstanding argument that life rings along the waterfront would encourage people to enter the water and put themselves at risk of injury or death — and make the city liable.

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A sign on the Chicago lakefront warns people to avoid potentially dangerous areas, such as piers. (WTTW News)

After recent drownings in Lake Michigan, activists have been clamoring for the Chicago Park District to install life rings along the lakefront, but the agency’s safety plan reinforces messaging surrounding “not safe to swim” locations.