Thanks to Maude Barlow, Meera Karunananthan, Emma Lui at the Council of Canadians, the Blue Planet Project, the World Social Forum, and the dedication of so many other individuals and organizations, the United Nations in 2010 declared in successive resolutions that water is a human right.
When Lee Botts died October 5 at age 91, the Great Lakes lost one of their best—and most faithful and effective—friends. Although perhaps not well known in Michigan, Lee was a legend in the Great Lakes environmental community. She not only made our freshwater seas far better because of her work, but with constant, generous mentoring, passed her skills on to succeeding generations of advocates.
By JoAnne Cook Indigenous Peoples’ Day (October 14 this year) has become a day of recognition to the Anishinaabek and has replaced Columbus Day in some communities. This recognition comes because we are the first people of this earth. Although many believe Columbus discovered this land, there were many visitors to this land before him. After… Read more »
Art meets water. Creative expression holds hands and swims with freshwater stewardship. Breathtaking, life-sustaining water inspires art, and that art propels us to protect the Great Lakes. The stillness, waves, clarity, and reflection of water give rise to poetry, music, paintings, dance, letters, and more. It’s a swirling, symbiotic, cyclical relationship that takes on many forms.
The Michigan Court of Claims has issued orders accepting FLOW’s and the City of Mackinac Island’s amicus briefs advancing key legal arguments in Enbridge’s Line 5 oil tunnel lawsuit against the State, rejecting opposing arguments by the Canadian oil pipeline company. The ruling in Lansing by Judge Michael Kelly in late September means that vital issues raised by FLOW’s brief and the city’s brief will be considered by the Michigan Court of Claims, including the public trust rights of citizens to draw drinking water from and otherwise use the Great Lakes, and the soils and bottomlands beneath them, unimpaired by private interests.
Although budget talks between Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the state Legislature are strained at best — as the two sides appear deadlocked over road funding — it does appear her request for significant one-time funding for clean water for the fiscal year 2020 starting October 1 will survive the process, with some changes made to fit legislative priorities. On Tuesday, Sept. 24, the Legislature approved the water money and will send the bill to Whitmer’s desk for signature within a few days.
The foot-dragging by public officials to take action against deadly algal blooms and pollution from bad farming practices finally has reached a tipping point. Food and Water Watch, a national public interest organization, and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement have teamed up in Des Moines to file a lawsuit to force Iowa state officials and commissions for violating their duty to protect the Racoon River and the drinking water of 500,000 people.
Most Michiganders don’t know that September 16-20 is Septic Smart Week — and that an estimated 130,000 septic systems in our state are failing. In many cases that means sewage and associated microorganisms are reaching groundwater, lakes and streams.
It’s been five years since the August 2014 bloom that contaminated Toledo’s water supply for a weekend, leaving half a million without drinking water — an event that many compared to the 1969 fire on the Cuyahoga River at Cleveland. Where’s the outrage and action now? All we have to show for the last five years of “cleanup” for Lake Erie is hundreds of millions, if not billions, of taxpayer dollars spent on agricultural incentives, partnerships and research. But there is no plan to do anything serious regarding agriculture, in which a transformation is needed if the lake is to be restored.
Michigan lies at the heart of the Great Lakes, the largest fresh surface water system in the world. Harboring 95 percent of all fresh surface water in United States and 84 percent of all fresh surface water in North America, the Lakes are an enormous source of natural capital, providing direct health, economic, environmental, and ecological services to 40 million people. The Great Lakes system is a magnificent natural endowment. Sculpted by ancient retreating glaciers that left the largest interconnected body of fresh surface water in the world, the Great Lakes are truly globally unique.