Traverse City, Mich.—FLOW is celebrating our 10th anniversary of keeping the Great Lakes public and protected and kickstarting the next 10 years. Founded in 2011 by Jim Olson and directed since 2012 by Liz Kirkwood, both environmental attorneys, FLOW is a nonprofit law and policy center based in Traverse City dedicated to protecting the Great… Read more »
“There isn’t another FLOW. There are many worthy environmental organizations but there isn’t another FLOW,” said Lana Pollack, former U.S. Chair of the International Joint Commission. “So I think that FLOW, although it’s not a political organization, it’s a deeply education organization. That has to come first before people will understand and demand of their government representatives protection for their most magnificent home.”
Groundwater, a critical part of Michigan’s water cycle, is out of sight—and so is the groundwater pollution that contaminates thousands of drinking water wells and reaches hundreds of rivers and lakes across the state. Despite its invisibility to the naked eye, groundwater contamination sickens Michigan residents. About 45% of the Wolverine State’s population drinks well water. September 20-24 is SepticSmart Week in Michigan and nationally—an opportunity for owners of property with septic systems to learn about the threat failing systems pose to our water resources, and ways to prevent or minimize such pollution. As our allies protecting Crystal Lake in Benzie County, Michigan, point out: Being septic smart can extend the life of a septic system, keep well water safe, protect the environment and prevent accidents at home.
Detroit artists Liz Ably. Photo by Krissy Booth used with permission. By Matt Harmon Liz Ahlbrand is a multimodal artist living in Detroit. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance. After an injury left her with severe chronic pain, she turned to the visual arts for new ways to cope and heal. Since… Read more »
It begins for me with the question that haunts my days: How can I use my art, my words, my one small gift which brings me joy, to make a difference in those causes I consider most critical to supporting eco-vigor? In recent years, that attempt to “make a difference” has been focused on water. Thank goodness for FLOW, because through their Art Meets Water program, that impulse found a home, writes Anne-Marie Oomen.
More than 40 protestors assembled on the Detroit Riverwalk Wednesday morning to call on the Canadian government to support Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in seeking to decommission the Enbridge Line 5 oil pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac. The Detroit protest—staged near the Canadian consulate—occurred in solidarity with simultaneous demonstrations across the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario, as well as in Chicago and Milwaukee. At each protest site, organizers sent Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau jars of fresh Great Lakes water as a symbol of what’s at risk if Line 5 continues to operate.
“Without FLOW the Line 5 issue would not be alive in Canada,” says Maude Barlow. “With the help of Liz’s leadership we have been able to put together a coalition here in Canada to start speaking up and start saying ‘It is a pipeline, for heaven sake. We’re against all the other pipelines, why are we being so quiet on this one?’ And this one is triply dangerous because it goes under a portion of the Great Lakes.”
Protection of the submerged lands of the Great Lakes that lie within Michigan’s jurisdiction is part of the state’s public trust duties. This represents a vast area, approximately 38,500 square miles of bottomland beneath four of the Great Lakes. By contrast, the size of the entire state of Indiana is 36,400 square miles.
In Michigan’s state government there are talented professionals who would like to be able to say the same about the messes they try to clean up—the estimated 24,000 known contamination sites that degrade the state’s groundwater, soils, rivers, and lakes and even threaten people in their own homes. Working in what’s called the “Remediation and Redevelopment Division” of Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), they work to pinpoint contamination sources, calculate health and environmental risks, work with (or in conflict with) polluters to resolve issues, and oversee the difficult work of removing toxins from the environment.
In this video testimonial, FLOW executive director Liz Kirkwood reflects on what prompted her to focus on water law, and her childhood memories of fresh water. During 2021, our 10th anniversary year, FLOW staff, supporters and collaborators are sharing reflections on what our work together has meant to them and to the freshwaters of the Great Lakes Basin.