News

Onus is on State, Not Citizens, to Turn on Water in Detroit

Since when is the burden of proof on residents to prove a health crisis to get a drink of water from the tap in their home? By refusing to grant relief to tens of thousands of residents in Detroit, the State has effectively deprived citizens of their rights under public trust law.

Great Lakes Histories: from Ruin to Recovery, Led by Citizen Leaders

“Since the beginning of Michigan as a state in 1837, we’ve had several resource binges,” FLOW senior policy advisor David Dempsey told the University of Michigan’s Great Lakes Theme Semester panel series: “Great Lakes Histories—Indigenous Cultures through Common Futures” on Monday in Ann Arbor. “We took a heavily timbered state and consumed over 90% of the resource in less than 50 years, leaving behind what commentators have called ‘a burned-over, cutover wasteland.’ Then we fouled the waters, first with mill waste and raw sewage, then with persistent toxic chemicals. Then we consumed the land, building unsustainable communities crawling across the landscape. … When Michigan awoke with hangovers from the first two binges, public-spirited women and men, volunteer conservationists and environmentalists, fought successfully for societal healing. Citizens pressured public officials to take over the cutover lands, plant trees and initiate mostly sustainable forestry, and build the largest state forest system east of the Mississippi.”

FLOW’s Work is a Matter of the Heart

As we reflect on FLOW’s work, it seems appropriate to quote FLOW supporter, and author, Jerry Beasley. “What is fundamental about our relationship with water is a matter of the heart, ” writes Beasley. “If the heart is not engaged, the waters will not be saved.” FLOW’s 2019 annual report, which you can view here, highlights what we have accomplished during the past fiscal year.

Groundwater Should be Treated as Priceless, Not Worthless

Why should we clean up contaminated groundwater instead of sealing it off? Because what we can’t see can come back to hurt us. Almost 40 years ago, contamination in Charlevoix’s groundwater forced the city to switch to Lake Michigan as its drinking water source. Now, Michigan Radio reports, that contamination is threatening health and property values.

New Book About International Joint Commission Takes Hard Look at U.S.-Canada Water Relationship

The First Century of the International Joint Commission is the definitive history of the International Joint Commission (IJC), which oversees and protects the shared waters of the United States and Canada. Created by the Boundary Waters Treaty (BWT) of 1909, it is one of the world’s oldest international environmental bodies. A pioneering piece of trans-border water governance, the IJC has been integral to the modern U.S.-Canada relationship, especially in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence basin.

Michigan Courts Can Enforce a Township’s Responsibility to Remedy Widespread Septic System Failures

Michigan remains the only state without statewide regulations governing the inspection of septic systems, leaving the job of protecting waters from septic systems to local governments. A 2012 decision of the Michigan Supreme Court makes clear that, in the face of widespread septic system failures in a region, Michigan courts can nevertheless step in to enforce a local government’s duty to protect the waters of the state from sewage contamination.

Wanted: a Government That Acts Like an Adult and Cleans Up its Mess

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has a prime opportunity to provide a bold, optimistic alternative to Trump’s war on the environment when she delivers the Democratic Party’s response to the State of the Union address on Tuesday night. As the leader of our Great Lakes state, and the protector of our lakes, streams, air, and groundwater, Whitmer must stand up for the 1.5 million workers whose jobs are directly tied to the health of the Great Lakes. She should call for a Great Lakes platform to protect our drinking water, public health, jobs and quality of life.