Blog Posts

Blog posts by FLOW team and guest writers

High Great Lakes Water Levels Strain Wastewater Sewer Systems

High Lake Michigan water levels are are forcing more water to flow into Traverse City’s wastewater treatment system. This forces city residents to pay more in energy, maintenance and other operational costs, write FLOW Board member Bob Otwell and Traverse City Commissioner Tim Werner.

Green Ooze Cleanup Illustrates Flawed Groundwater Policy

Recent news that a final cleanup has begun to remove the infamous green ooze that leaked onto a Detroit area freeway in December 2019 is a reminder that Michigan policy still fosters many sites where toxic contamination remains in groundwater. The policy has drawn little attention, but it is a serious problem for Michigan. FLOW’s recent groundwater report, Deep Threats to Our Sixth Great Lake, spotlights its implications, and calls for a change in state law to protect our groundwater and public health. Click here for the report’s Key Facts sheet.

Happy 99th Birthday to the Late Gov. William Milliken

March 26 marks the 99th anniversary of the birth of William G. Milliken, regarded as the Michigan governor most committed to protecting Michigan’s water, air and land. Together with his wife Helen, the Millikens were known for promoting civic engagement in the public sphere. This legacy lives on at FLOW, and can grow through gifts to The Helen and William G. Milliken Fund For Love of Water, which FLOW established in 2020.

Water Access Plays Critical Role During Global Pandemic

Across Michigan and the United States—in both cities and small towns—residential water rates have skyrocketed. Hundreds of thousands of Michiganders are behind on paying their water bills, and we’re calling on the State Legislature to extend a water shutoff moratorium.

Valuing Water: It’s More than How Much Surrounds Us

We live in the Great Lakes State, surrounded by four of the largest lakes in the world. As we gaze out at the blue horizon, it’s tempting to think that there’s no way humans could significantly diminish them. On World Water Day, it’s important to recognize that seeming inexhaustibility is a myth.

Embracing and Protecting Great Lakes Water Before It’s Gone

On World Water Day, it’s worth asking this question: Why is it that we only begin to understand what we have at the very moment it is gone? This question defines the crisis around water in the Great Lakes. The stories and statistics around water poisoning, pollution, and scarcity are staggering. Recent water disasters have been all too common: the Flint lead-in-drinking water tragedy, the thousands of residential water shutoffs in Detroit and beyond, the 2014 toxic algal bloom that shut down the Toledo drinking water system, and the countless other community water supplies poisoned from chemical contamination from PFAS and other pollutants. Time and time again, the reaction from residents is: How could this have happened in America?

Reality Check: Line 5 Threatens More Jobs Than It Sustains

By Maude Barlow and Jim Olson Editor’s note: This opinion piece appeared originally in Canada’s National Observer. The United States and Canada are not only close friends and neighbours, but are also committed to resolving their differences with civility and common purpose. The 112-year-old International Joint Commission (IJC), which prevents and resolves disputes over boundary… Read more »

PFAS and the Public: State of Michigan Owes Affected Communities the Truth

In February 2020, a state team led by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) began an investigation into the possibility of PFAS contamination spreading in groundwater north of Cherry Capital Airport and the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station to drinking water wells in the nearby Pine Grove neighborhood of East Bay Township, near Traverse City. But state officials did not tell residents of 18 potentially affected homes of the investigation until October 2020, when they confirmed PFAS in the water of the 18 homeowners’ wells. The homeowners were understandably angry that eight months passed after the investigation started before they were made aware of it. Some might have taken precautions to avoid even the chance of exposure to the pollutants. on her second day in office, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed her first executive directive establishing the policy that, “Action to mitigate or prevent threats to public health, safety, and welfare always should take precedence over any ill-advised attempt to protect the reputation of a department or agency, manipulate public perception, avoid political backlash, or engage in defensiveness, self-justification, or insular conduct.” The State fell well short of the Governor’s standard when it failed to inform residents of the Pine Grove neighborhood, early and transparently, about the possibility of PFAS in their well water.