For years my family lived in steamy Arkansas, driving for days to get to northern Michigan in the summers. The air cooled down mile by mile. The moment we rounded a curve and our lake glimmered into view I was transported, transformed. I wanted nothing but to be in it, on it, all over it, writes poet and Traverse City resident Fleda Brown.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of two historically significant steps toward healthy streams and lakes, the U.S. Clean Water Act and the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. But are these silver anniversaries truly green? Let’s take a look.
Fifty years ago, on December 11, 1971, 22 workers died in a tragic explosion while completing a tunnel designed to bring Lake Huron drinking water to the Detroit metropolitan area. The anniversary of the disaster was marked by a ceremony earlier this month. “We are honoring the 22 men who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our clean drinking water and they need to be remembered,” said Joel Archibald, business manager for a labor union that organized the ceremony.
A recently-released survey of residents of the Great Lakes watershed reveals strong support for government funding and actions to protect the Lakes, but also suggests the public believes the lakes are not in good shape.
FLOW senior policy advisor Dave Dempsey recently posted a survey on both Twitter and Facebook asking followers and friends to name their favorite Great Lake and to explain their allegiance. The answers were both quantitative and qualitative.
FLOW welcomed new operations manager Meagan Walters to our team in early December. Meagan’s deep interest and commitment to clean water is demonstrated not only by her studies, but also by her experiences, including as the current president of the Grand Traverse Freshwater Society and prior internships monitoring water quality for the Long Lake Association in Traverse City and providing environmental education to the public at the Grass River Natural Area in Bellaire.
When a book of history you’ve written becomes history itself, this not only makes you feel old, but also gives you a chance, in hindsight, to see how accurate it is. Twenty years ago, in 2001, the University of Michigan Press published “Ruin and Recovery: Michigan’s Rise as a Conservation Leader.” It was a book I’d long wanted to write. Based on 20 prior years of learning the environmental history of Michigan on the job, I attempted to put in perspective the good and bad in the state’s management of its natural resources.
“The statutory deadline for removing this case to federal court passed over two years ago,” said Zach Welcker, Legal Director at FLOW, the Great Lakes law and policy center based in Traverse City. “Enbridge is making a frivolous argument that a federal court’s recent jurisdictional ruling in a separate case should give it another bite at the apple, but the apple is long gone as a matter of civil procedure.”
As anyone who knows Terry Swier could attest, it was her clear-sighted commitment to principle and her conviction, grounded like the roots of an oak tree deep in the soil with branches wide in the sky, that stood behind Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation’s victory over Nestlé. “Who owns the water?” Terry asked, something she would keep asking for the next 20 years. Not Perrier or Nestlé. It belonged to the public.
“I’m thrilled to be surrounded by all of this water and humbled by the opportunity to keep it public and protected for all,” says Zach Welcker, FLOW’s first full-time legal director, who is responsible for building on FLOW’s legal power, policy acumen, and partnerships—especially among tribes, conservation groups, frontline communities, justice organizations, and scientists—to ensure the waters of the Great Lakes Basin are healthy, public, and protected for all.