Environment

The international trade in exotic animal parts includes rhino horn, seahorses, and bear gall bladders. But perhaps none is as strange as the swim bladder from a giant Mexican fish called the totoaba.

The totoaba can grow to the size of a football player. It lives only in the Gulf of California in Mexico, along with the world's smallest and rarest mammal — a type of porpoise called the vaquita.

Signs of sustainability are peppered across the City of Milwaukee landscape – from the exponential growth of the Bublr bike share business, to the wind turbine dominating the south shore skyline and an increase in solar panels blanketing rooftops in neighborhoods around town.

The City's director of environmental sustainability, Erick Shambarger, believes 2016 marks an important milestone.

Michelle Maternowski

The Mitchell Park Domes are one of Milwaukee County’s most popular destinations.

County Executive Chris Abele shuttered the aging glass structures over the weekend after a piece of concrete the size of a tennis ball plummeted 20 feet into the desert dome.

The problems with high lead levels in Flint, Mich.'s water started in April 2014, when the city switched water sources and began drawing its supply from the Flint River. The new water was harder, and government officials allowed it to corrode the city's pipes, leaching lead and other toxins into the tap water.

S Bence

While the country remains riveted to Flint, Michigan because of its contaminated drinking water, other cities, including Milwaukee, have huge lead problems of their own.

An estimated 10 percent of kids under age six in Milwaukee have unhealthy levels of lead in their blood. The culprit: lead-based paint.

It’s long been banned, but thousands of older houses, especially in low-income areas, still contain it.

Copyright 2016 Valley Public Radio. To see more, visit Valley Public Radio.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's not simply Flint that has bad water. The Michigan city, which has grabbed headlines recently for its rampant water contamination, is joined in that dubious distinction by another town, much farther south: St. Joseph, La.

"It's just a given fact that at some point during the week, you're going to have brown or yellow water," says resident Garrett Boyte.

A major natural gas storage well in Southern California is still leaking, though less so than back in late October, when the giant gas leak was first reported. More than 5,000 families and two schools have been relocated since then, and the local utility that operates the facility is now facing several legal actions.

Florida is one of several U.S. states now reporting a few isolated cases of people infected with the Zika virus. In response, Florida's Gov. Rick Scott has declared a public health emergency in five counties in hopes of getting ahead of the virus's spread.

So far, just 12 cases of the mosquito-borne illness have been reported to health authorities in Florida, all of them among travelers who contracted the disease outside the U.S. But Scott figures it's only a matter of time before the virus starts showing up among mosquitoes in some regions of the state, too.

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