FLOW’s Jim Olson and Dave Dempsey Honored by IAGLR for Great Lakes Protection Efforts

Photo: FLOW’s Jim Olson (left) and Dave Dempsey. Note: This is a FLOW media release issued June 21, 2022. Members of the media can reach FLOW’s: Jim Olson, Founder & Senior Legal Advisor at Dave Dempsey, Senior Policy Advisor, Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director, at or cell (570) 872-4956 or office (231) 944-1568. Traverse City,… Read more »

Shrinking Our ‘Water Footprint’ to Protect the Great Lakes

Why should residents of the Great Lakes region and its abundant freshwater be concerned about their water footprint and take steps to conserve water? Living among water riches does not exempt us from responsible environmental stewardship.

An Earth Day Review: The Michigan Environmental Protection Act in 2022

One of the leading champions and practitioners of the Michigan Environmental Protection Act (MEPA) has been FLOW’s founder, Jim Olson. For 50 years, he has put MEPA to work in the courts and administrative processes, defending wetlands, streams, flora and fauna, and human health.  Jim has adeptly used MEPA to protect the Great Lakes and its tributary rivers and streams, vindicate indigenous treaty fishing rights, and limit Nestlé’s withdrawal of Michigan groundwater.

The Geography of Hope Is Anchored in Our Precious Great Lakes

In his 1960 Wilderness Letter, conservationist and author Wallace Stegner famously coined the phrase “geography of hope,” referring to the impulse that led Americans to the wilderness idea. Now, in 2022, comes another prophet of hope, Maude Barlow. A lifelong and world-renowned champion of water, Maude has authored a book built on her career of activism. Its title, appropriately, is “Still Hopeful: Lessons from a Lifetime of Activism.” FLOW will host a livestream book event featuring Maude Barlow on Wednesday, June 15.

Liz Kirkwood Reflects on the Importance of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement After 50 Years

Friday, April 15, marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement–a deep and lasting commitment between the two nations to restore and protect the greatest collection of fresh surface water on the planet. A key institution in the execution of the Agreement is the Great Lakes Water Quality Board, which advises the International Joint Commission. Liz Kirkwood, FLOW’s executive director, is a U.S. appointee to the 28-member binational board. Here are her thoughts on the Board’s role under the Agreement in protecting the lakes.

Evaluating the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement on its 50th Birthday

When Lake Erie algae blooms worsened to a crisis in the 1960s, Canada and the United States shared the problem—but no mechanism to combat it jointly. Out of that gap came the binational Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Signed 50 years ago this Friday by Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and U.S. President Richard Richard Nixon in Ottawa on April 15, 1972, the pact embraced the reality that Great Lakes water flows across the international boundary and that only through joint effort can the lakes be restored. FLOW asks the question: Has it worked?

Protecting Groundwater and Michigan’s Most Endangered Wildflower

An unseen resource, Michigan’s groundwater provides drinking water to more than 4 million Michiganders, supports agricultural irrigation and manufacturing, and contributes a significant portion of the inflow to the Great Lakes. But there is still another reason to protect Michigan’s groundwater: conservation of our state’s biological diversity. Groundwater is critical to valuable species and their habitats, including cold water trout streams like the Au Sable River–and a rare wildflower found exclusively in Michigan.

High Gas Prices Could Drive Down Emissions, Boost Support for Fuel Efficiency and Electric Vehicles

Photo source: iStock By Dave Dempsey Skyrocketing gasoline prices are shocking drivers–but they also provide an opportunity for environmental benefits and demonstrate the value of vehicle fuel efficiency standards. The transportation sector accounts for 28 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Within this sector, about 59 percent of those emissions, which… Read more »

Public Trust Bill Package Boosts Groundwater Protection in Michigan

FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood expressed strong support for legislation introduced in Lansing today that would shore up public trust protections for the Great Lakes and groundwater against water-bottling companies thirsting for profits and strengthen safeguards for waterways on state land. “The Great Lakes must never be for sale,” Kirkwood said in a video-recording message for the press conference announcing the legislation. “And Michigan’s groundwater must never become privatized and siphoned away.”