In the end, it took outside intervention to begin moving the people of Benton Harbor toward a clean, safe water supply this fall. Why? Despite three years of data showing that the city’s drinking water exceeded state standards for lead contamination, it wasn’t until the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center filed a petition with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on September 9 that the State of Michigan took decisive action to address the problem. The EPA followed suit with an order to the city on November 2 to improve disinfection and corrosion treatments at the water plant, monitor for disinfection byproducts, repair plant filters, and contract with a third party to study the long-term operation of the city’s drinking water system.
Michigan has a gigantic opportunity to provide clean drinking water, clean up sewage and stormwater runoff, and restore the Great Lakes—while promoting access for all to clean, safe, affordable water—after last Friday’s final bipartisan Congressional action on the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act.
While world leaders gather for a second week in Glasgow, Scotland, at the United Nation’s COP26 climate change conference, FLOW’s Jim Olson in this blog calls for a new approach to planning and zoning in the Great Lakes watershed that respects the increasing variability of water levels.
The following op-ed by FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood appeared in the Traverse City Record-Eagle on November 3: We at FLOW agree, “The clock is ticking.” That “tick, tick, tick” sound, however, isn’t coming from Enbridge’s proposed tunnel. It is coming from an environmental ticking time bomb called Line 5—Enbridge’s twin pipelines pumping oil nearly 20 years past their intended lifespan in raging currents at the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac.
FLOW, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2021, is pleased to announce the election of new officers on its Board of Directors, including the first woman to chair the Board. Renee Huckle Mittelstaedt, former president and CEO of Huckle Media, LLC/Huckle Holdings Inc., has taken over as FLOW’s new Board Chair. She joined FLOW’s board in 2015 and previously served as treasurer.
The logjam that has halted progress in dealing with PFAS, the toxic “forever chemicals” that plague communities across Michigan and the nation, is finally breaking up. On October 27, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered state government to discontinue the purchase of many PFAS-containing products, as encouraged by FLOW last month. The Governor, whose support was critical in enacting health-protective state drinking water standards for PFAS last year, said “PFAS are dangerous, man-made chemicals that pose a threat to our health.”
At the age of 14, Nisha Singhi has already made more impact on state environmental policy than most adults. As a result of her work, two Michigan legislators have introduced bills. Nisha, who resides in Bloomfield Hills and is a sophomore at International Academy in Bloomfield Hills, became concerned several years ago about the problem of balloon debris and litter in the environment. She decided to do something about it through state policy.
Jerry Dennis is a Michigan treasure. The 67-year-old writer, a native of northern Michigan, is the author of more than 10 books, including the epic “The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Island Seas.” His recently-released “Up North in Michigan: A Portrait of Place in Four Seasons,” illustrated by frequent collaborator artist Glenn Wolff, captures the timeless feel of the north country in an era of rapid global change. FLOW’s Dave Dempsey sat down with him for the following interview.
Iron Fish Distillery and Balsoda Farms celebrated a trifecta on Tuesday evening, Oct. 12, in Marquette. Richard Anderson, one of the family leaders and visionaries behind Thompsonville-based Iron Fish Distillery—and entrepreneurship for the public interest throughout the Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan—joined the release of its new Two Peninsulas Bourbon with a celebration and fundraiser for two strong, influential organizations over the past decade to protect the Great Lakes—FLOW and Superior Watershed Partnership (SWP).
When it comes to pollution, the truth is something that every parent knows: Children are not little adults. For a variety of reasons, children are the most vulnerable to the health effects of pollution. That’s why October 14 is observed as Children’s Environmental Health Day.