If Line 5 Ruptures, Shut Mackinac Island Water System, Evacuate Everyone

The Mackinac Islanders who attended FLOW’s sixth annual Community Update on Line 5 at Community Hall were an economically and politically diverse crowd. What united them was a concern over Line 5, and a desire to learn how FLOW and tribal representatives, lawyers, and risk experts are educating the public about this sunken hazard in the fragile Straits of Mackinac, and how we are pressuring the State of Michigan to shut down Line 5 before an oil spill happens. FLOW has been working with Mackinac Island residents for six years on this issue because they’re at the epicenter of the threat of a Line 5 oil spill.

Beach Cleanups Protect Water and Health and Raise Awareness

Many of our Michigan beaches are sullied by refuse and littered with food wrappers, soggy cigarette butts, and small plastic pieces of mysterious origin. Whether littered on-site or carried from elsewhere in the watershed, unsanitary garbage on our coasts puts-off beach-goers and infringes upon the public’s right to enjoy the shoreline—a great Michigan summertime tradition that’s protected by the public trust doctrine.

The Thirsty Buffalo

We can outthink clever buffalo who know how to turn on water spigots at campsites in the dry southwestern United States. The larger problem is that many folks, including state employees, have their heads in the sand when it comes to solutions that will prevent future catastrophes like running out of water. Unless people in the West start seriously restraining  their unlimited development and deal with declining water levels, they will soon be eyeing our bulging Great Lakes to solve their self-induced problems.

Michigan Groundwater Expert Distills Lessons of a Career

Professor David Lusch retired in 2017, after a 38-year career in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences at Michigan State University (MSU). Beginning in 1992 with the publication of the Aquifer Vulnerability Map of Michigan, Dr. Lusch helped pioneer the use of geographic information systems for groundwater mapping and management in Michigan. We asked him to offer his views on critical groundwater matters in Michigan.

Shaping Niagara Falls: Engineers, Hydropower, and Sustainability

Last month marked the 50th anniversary of turning off the American Falls, the smaller of the main cataracts at Niagara Falls. In the 1950s, engineers had replumbed the much larger Horseshoe Falls, shrinking it and diverting the majority of the water before it plunged over the precipice. All this may not seem very “green” — but the point was primarily to funnel water to hydropower stations. Thus, the modern history of Niagara Falls raises some interesting questions about what sustainability looks like in the Great Lakes basin.

Reflections on Independence – Liberty, Water, and the Public Trust Doctrine

July is “Public Trust Month” at FLOW, a time to gather views and inspiration from people from all walks of life who live, use and enjoy, or depend on the waters of the Great Lakes Basin for life, recreation, and livelihood. Talk about a gift for all of us to celebrate on Independence Day and FLOW’s “Public Trust Month.” This is one to be thankful for, exercise, and protect for ourselves, our children, grandchildren, and all future generations.

New State Funding Gives Boost to Recycling

Late last year, the Michigan Legislature approved $15 million in annual funding for recycling programs. To learn more about this initiative, FLOW interviewed Matt Flechter, Recycling Market Development Specialist at the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

The Detroit River’s Waterfront Porch

John Hartig is intimately connected with one of the most successful environmental restoration projects in the United States, the recovery of the once highly degraded Detroit River. He retired in 2018 after 14 years as manager of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge and more than 30 years with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In his new book, Waterfront Porch: Reclaiming Detroit’s Industrial Waterfront as a Gathering Place for All, he chronicles the exciting comeback of the river and the connection restoration efforts have forged between the community and the river.