FLOW Welcomes Tribal Law Expert Matthew L.M. Fletcher to Board of Directors

FLOW is excited to announce the growth of our Board of Directors as we welcome tribal law expert Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Foundation Professor of Law at Michigan State University College of Law and Director of the Indigenous Law and Policy Center. He is also the primary editor and author of the leading law blog on American Indian law and policy, Turtle Talk. “We are thrilled to welcome Matthew Fletcher to our Board of Directors,” said FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood. “Matthew’s extraordinary knowledge of tribal history, custom, and law will greatly serve to advance FLOW’s mission to protect our shared waters as a commons from one generation to the next. We have much to learn from traditional indigenous ecological knowledge and teachings about stewarding our precious Great Lakes and freshwater.”

Michigan Needs a Groundwater Protection Act

Michigan groundwater policy has failed to evolve even as understanding has grown about groundwater’s importance and its interconnection with the Great Lakes. The simple fact that Michigan has approximately 14,000 groundwater contamination sites with an estimated cleanup bill of over $1 billion—most of it likely to be charged to taxpayers—should make groundwater a public policy imperative.

Will Wall Street Control Our Water in the 21st Century?

The water barons are finally moving in to gain control over water rights in public water that is supposed to be held and managed by each state as sovereign for the benefit of its citizens. These water transactions, which seek to profit by speculating on an underlying assumption that water is a commodity or can be allocated for sale,  signal a significant shift in investors’ attitudes about public water, and, fundamentally pose the question: Just who will own and control the public’s water in the 21st century?

My Memories on the 50th Anniversary of Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore

My first experience with Sleeping Bear Dunes was in the mid-1950s, when I was a teenager, accompanying my family on the Dunesmobile ride. I recall the ride in those convertible Oldsmobile 88s with the big, balloon tires so they didn’t get stuck in the soft sand. That sticks in my mind all these years later because a 1954 Oldsmobile 88 was the first car I ever owned, and I used primarily for my commute from home in Detroit to attend Wayne State University (WSU).

More Progress Needed on Attacking the Threat of Microplastics in the Great Lakes

A January 2021 story by the Capital News Service headlined “Microplastics threaten Great Lakes, and not just the water” was one of the first I have seen recently about the threat of microplastics to our precious fresh waters. However, microplastics have been reported in the Great Lakes for more than 15 years. Researchers started to get interested in microplastics around 2012, but outside the scientific community, microplastic pollution in the Great Lakes hasn’t gained much interest. How much has been done to reduce microplastics? How much has been done to make the general public aware of this serious and growing threat?

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.