It’s been almost 50 years since the United States and Canada entered into the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and during this time, we have watched rust-belt contaminated urban cores rebound and polluted ecosystems revived. But we also have witnessed a rollback of major federal environmental regulations and laws, the Flint lead crisis, Detroit water shutoffs, lack of investment and crumbling regional water infrastructure, lack of safe, affordable drinking water, wetland destruction, water privatization, legacy and emerging pollutants like PFAs, and unprecedented climate change impacts. Our challenge in this new century is to avoid the constant cycle of ruin to recovery.
What I have learned, and what I believe in the most elemental way, is that our first and most basic relationship with water is anchored in love. In the absence of love there is the great risk of indifference and failure to protect this resource that, under the Public Trust Doctrine, belongs to us all and is essential to life. If the heart is not engaged, the waters will not be saved. So, while we marshal facts and organize and encourage activism, let us remember to acknowledge the power of our affections and make them a guiding principle in all that we do.
By Jim Olson A railway company recently proposed extracting 500 million gallons of groundwater per year from Minnesota and shipping it to water-scarce states in the southwestern United States. Although the water that would be diverted lies outside the Great Lakes Basin, and Minnesota officials said they are not likely to approve the water export… Read more »
Residents and wastewater users in Kalkaska County can rest easier at night. A bid to weaken septic and groundwater protections has failed. The November 22 meeting of the District 10 Health Board yielded what appears to be the final chapter of the year-long effort to prevent Kalkaska County from ending the point-of-sale septic inspection program contained in the District 10 Health Department Sanitary Code.
Do environmental regulations hinder or help the economy? That question framed FLOW’s community engagement session on November 13 in Traverse City examining the role of government in protecting human health and the environment. Presenters included Cherry Republic founder and environmental steward Bob Sutherland and former FLOW board chair Skip Pruss, who has authored three “Resetting Expectations” reports for FLOW that make the case for government regulations to protect the environment.
FLOW today called on the State of Michigan to increase and strictly enforce the requirement for comprehensive oil spill insurance and terminate the 1953 easement that conditionally allows Line 5 to occupy the Straits of Mackinac, triggering the orderly shut down of the dual oil pipelines as soon as practicable after securing alternative sources for residential propane.
Can Michigan’s governance system succeed in solving one of our state’s worst water pollution problems? That’s the key question in the wake of FLOW’s Michigan Septic Summit in Traverse City on November 6. Attended by more than 150 people representing diverse points of view, the summit demonstrated that there is widespread interest in addressing a problem that is putting our waters and human health at risk.
FLOW (For Love of Water) is excited to announce that Diane Dupuis started earlier this month as our new Development Director. Diane works to connect FLOW with resources that can help fuel our work of safeguarding the Great Lakes for all.
This article is excerpted from the third of four policy briefs by former FLOW board chair, and former director of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth, Skip Pruss, that make the economic case for government’s role in protecting the environment.
FLOW gratefully acknowledges the Milliken family’s suggestion that memorial donations in Governor William Milliken’s name be made to FLOW and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. We will carry on the Milliken legacy of environmental stewardship and hope for the future.