FLOW in the News

A sampling of recent news coverage involving FLOW


Nestle cannot claim bottled water is 'essential public service', court rules

December 5, 2019

The Guardian

Michigan’s second-highest court has dealt a legal blow to Nestlé’s Ice Mountain water brand, ruling that the company’s commercial water-bottling operation is “not an essential public service” or a public water supply. The court of appeals ruling is a victory for Osceola township, a small mid-Michigan town that blocked Nestlé from building a pumping station that doesn’t comply with its zoning laws. But the case could also throw a wrench in Nestlé’s attempts to privatize water around the country.

If it is to carry out such plans, then it will need to be legally recognized as a public water source that provides an essential public service. The Michigan environmental attorney Jim Olson, who did not represent Osceola township but has previously battled Nestlé in court, said any claim that the Swiss multinational is a public water utility “is ludicrous”.


We've Been Here Before: In 1986, Lake Michigan's up north shores looked a lot like now. Will 2020 be worse?

November 16, 2019

Northern Express

We didn't learn the important lessons from the record-breaking high water levels of 1986, FLOW senior policy adviser Dave Dempsey told the Northern Express. That's the last time Lake Michigan water levels were this high. The Express devoted last week's cover story to high water levels and a comparison of 1986 vs 2019. Dempsey worked as the environmental policy director for Gov. Jim Blanchard in 1986, when the high-water record was set. “It was very dramatic and basically an emergency for a lot of people,” Dempsey recalled. When homes started to fall into Lake Michigan that year, Dempsey said he helped the Blanchard administration craft a policy to offer low-interest loans for homeowners to protect their shoreline or move their home away from the edge. Ultimately, lawmakers did not address the possibility that the new high-water level could come back or even be washed away by a new record (which is possible in 2020). “You’ve got to adapt and learn lessons from the experience,” Dempsey said.


Make it rain: Diane Dupuis is here to help us fund the fight of the Great Lakes' life

November 16, 2019

Northern Express

The Northern Express has an in-depth and upbeat interview this week with our new development director, Diane Dupuis, who "is here to help us fund the fight of the Great Lakes' life," writes the Express. She joins FLOW at a propitious time; the organization has been in the forefront of two high-profile legal fights. One concerns the drawing of water by Nestle in Mecosta County, and the other is the dispute over Line 5 running under the Straits of Mackinac. The Express talked with Dupuis about ground water, high water, water justice, and the critical flow that moves — or drains — the people’s fight: money.


Summit participants talk statewide septic code

November 7, 2019

Traverse City Record-Eagle

The Michigan Septic Summit in Traverse City was a lively, sold-out affair with experts and organizers attending from around the state and beyond. Sessions focused on how septic systems are sited, work, and fail. Multiple presenters described the scientific detective work used to trace contamination to its source. And nearly every presenter, panelist, and participant spoke to the need for a mix a statewide septic code or law to set minimum standards (Michigan is the only state without such a law) and local regulations to go further in tailoring protections for public health and the environment to local soil conditions and other factors.


Opinion | Enbridge is not working to protect Michigan waters

November 5, 2019

Bridge Magazine

FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood in this op-ed for Bridge Magazine shines a very bright spotlight on the Enbridge playbook of distraction and deception, including false advertising and a lack of insurance to cover a Line 5 oil spill disaster in the Great Lakes. #ShutDownLine5


Forum: Michigan fails to address septic systems

November 2, 2019

Traverse City Record-Eagle

In this piece, FLOW's Senior Advisor Dave Dempsey points to the problem of, and solutions to, unregulated septic systems fouling Michigan's fresh water. On the solution side, FLOW and our co-sponsors are hosting the Michigan Septic Summit on Wednesday, Nov. 6, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at NMC’s Hagerty Center in Traverse City. This one-day conference will explore emerging research on human health and environmental risks presented by old and failing septic systems in Michigan -- and local and regional programs and regulations adopted in response.The agenda features a variety of perspectives from public health officials, Realtors, representatives of lake associations, and others.


Judge Rules Line 5 Tunnel is Constitutional, Lawmakers React

November 1, 2019

9&10 News

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, and some environmental advocacy groups like For Love of Water (FLOW), believe the 60 year old pipeline is a liability. “We cannot risk our greatest, greatest gift, and that’s the Great Lakes. That’s what this is a battle for,” said Liz Kirkwood, executive director of FLOW. Kirkwood pored over a more than 120 page study, commissioned by the state, which looked into Enbridge’s financial assurances. AG Nessel and Kirkwood both believe the findings show Enbridge would not be accountable for an environmental disaster.


Opinion | Gov. Milliken's enduring legacy: civility, bridging divides

October 22, 2019

Bridge Magazine

In this commentary for Bridge Magazine, Dave Dempsey, FLOW’s senior policy adviser and author of the award-winning biography of Gov. William G. Milliken, traces the arc of Gov. Milliken's life of service in protection of democracy, civil rights, and the environment.


Experts to discuss septic science, policy for Michigan

October 20, 2019

Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan has a poop-in-the-water problem, writes the Traverse City Record-Eagle. The Great Lakes State boasts more freshwater resources than any other state in the nation, yet has no statewide oversight to protect those waters from human fecal contamination that escapes faulty septic systems. Of Michigan’s approximately 1.3 million rural septic systems, an estimated 130,000 to 300,000 are failing. Only a smattering of townships and counties require septic tanks and drain fields be inspected after installation, and then only when property is sold or transferred. Join FLOW at the Michigan Septic Summit on Nov. 6 in Traverse City to learn more about our state's septic problem.


William G. Milliken, Michigan's longest serving governor, is dead at 97

 

October 18, 2019

Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan on Friday lost a great leader and true champion of decency, humanity, and the environment. We mourn the loss of Gov. William G. Milliken and honor his lasting legacy. FLOW Senior Advisor Dave Dempsey, author of a biography of Milliken, told Michigan Radio that civility in public life was an important part of Gov. Milliken's contribution. "He consulted regularly with legislative leaders of both parties. And he did not dictate to the legislature what they needed to do, but tried to reach agreement on things," said Dempsey. "And he was a hard man to dislike. People from various political philosophies looked at him and really just found him to be somebody who was agreeable and eager to do the right thing for the citizenry."


Michigan AG focuses on clean energy, ratepayer support in shift for office

October 14, 2019

Energy News Network

Jim Olson, longtime environmental attorney and founder of FLOW, said the case against the tunnel deal and for getting Line 5 out of the Straits of Mackinac is simply about the “rule of law.” Enbridge is free to go through a state environmental regulatory process to try and build the tunnel, which hasn’t happened, advocates say. Nessel credited Olson and other advocates for raising the public trust legal argument around Line 5, a theory that essentially says private companies can’t use public resources — in this case, the Great Lakes — for private benefit.


Water-inspired: Great Lakes theme of art show

October 11, 2019

Traverse City Record-Eagle

Great story in today's Traverse City Record-Eagle about the "Artists for FLOW" show at Higher Art Gallery, which runs until November 5. “This is my first year doing this and I felt like something pertaining to the Great Lakes would be something everybody cares about,” said gallery owner Shanny Brooke. The exhibition features 26 pieces from 19 artists. All artwork is for sale with price tags ranging from $200 to $3,600. FLOW gets 10 percent of art sales.


A septic battle in Kalkaska

September 28, 2019

Northern Express

FLOW senior advisor Dave Dempsey told the Northern Express there is a renewed push for state-mandated septic inspections, and Kalkaska County eliminating a local requirement for septic system inspections proves why a state-wide remedy is necessary. Michigan is the only state in the country that does not have a state law mandating inspections. That’s astonishing given that Michigan is the Great Lakes State. “It’s both appalling and tragic,” Dempsey said. “I think it’s embarrassing to some lawmakers that Michigan has this huge hole in our water protection system.”


Help Protect Our Great Lakes at “Artist’s for FLOW”

September 27, 2019

9&10 News

If you love fine art and want to contribute to the safety and vitality of our Great Lakes, join us at Artists for FLOW- A community fundraiser on Oct. 11 at Higher Art Gallery in Traverse City, and check out this great story by Melissa Smith of 9&10 News. Higher Art Gallery will feature 21 artists whose work highlights their love of the Great Lakes. During the event, 20% of all sales go directly to FLOW.


State steps closer to PFAS standards for drinking water

 

September 28, 2019

Traverse City Record-Eagle

Liz Kirkwood, executive director of Traverse City-based nonprofit For Love of Water, said she agrees with officials from those environmental nonprofits about rules being needed for the entire class of PFAS chemicals. “The health-based values the state derived through scientific work is important but doesn’t fully recognize class-based regulation and the cumulative effects of multiple PFAS chemicals over a lifetime of exposure,” she said.


Legal gears on Nestle water cases grind slowly in Michigan

September 17, 2019

MLive

FLOW executive director Liz Kirkwood tells MLive.com that the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) should change its mind about Nestle's applied permit to pump groundwater at an increased rate of 400 gallons-per-minute from a well near Evart in Mecosta County. The outgoing Snyder Administration last year moved to approve Nestle's request.


Bottled Water is Sucking Florida Dry

September 15, 2019

New York Times

Nestlé has incensed other communities in the United States. In Michigan, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians and the grass-roots nonprofit organization Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation filed an appeal of a decision to allow Nestlé to increase water pumping from 250 gallons per minute to to 400 gallons per minute from a spring aquifer in Osceola County.

Trump admin decision to drop Obama-era wetlands rule draws mixed reactions in Michigan

September 12, 2019

Michigan Radio

“Honestly it’s quite astonishing that the federal government is considering dialing us back to the standards of 1986,” says Liz Kirkwood, the executive director of For Love of Water (FLOW), a group that works to protect Michigan’s fragile wetlands.


Love Letters to the Lakes: Public Comments from the Heart

September 10, 2019

International Joint Commission

Poetry and public comments don’t usually go together, especially when it comes to consultations under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The IJC has been holding public meetings this summer to gather input in places like Traverse City, Michigan.

That’s where writer Anne-Marie Oomen of nearby Empire, Michigan, mixed art with sound to deliver a short program on “Love Letters to the Lakes,” enlisting the help of area musicians to deliver a message to Commissioners and others.


Opinion: Michigan Should Become Global Freshwater Capital

September 9, 2019

Detroit News

For a state whose destiny is so intertwined with clean freshwater, it's surprising how Michigan has lagged in treasuring and protecting this resource in the past. Thankfully this has changed, especially in southeast Michigan.

Today, we have an opportunity to put water at the center of our civic life and personal lives. We are the freshwater capital of the world — if we choose to be.


Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director of FLOW, is our Great Lakes Guardian

August 22, 2019

MyNorth.com / Traverse Magazine

This is this story of Liz Kirkwood, executive director of the nonprofit FLOW and a protector of the Great Lakes.

First told at the October 2018 Fulfillament Storytelling event in Traverse City and featured in the August 2019 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.


Get Off the Bottle with FLOW in Traverse City

August 20, 2019

9 & 10 News

With August being National Water Quality month, the staff at For Love Of Water or FLOW in Traverse City is talking about their campaign to keep plastic out of northern Michigan waters.

In fact, according to FLOW, bottled water costs up to 2,000 times more per volume than tap water and 70% of plastic water bottles are not recycled and yet still people drink from them.


National Water Quality Month with FLOW

August 13, 2019

9 & 10 News

It’s always a good time to talk about water quality, especially having the Great Lakes providing 20-percent of the world’s fresh water.  August is National Water Quality Month, so we stopped by to chat with the staff of For Love of Water or FLOW in Traverse City to see how they’re working to create an awareness of protecting Michigan’s waterways. The organization works to inform governments and citizens about how we all play a role in keeping our water clean.

Gov. Whitmer: Research tunnel legality

January 2, 2019

Record Eagle

"It was almost mandatory on her part as governor to take this action," said Jim Olson, founder and president of Traverse City-based nonprofit For Love of Water.

Nestle Wins Permit to Pump More Michigan Groundwater

April 5, 2018

The Takeaway

Liz Kirkwood, executive director of For Love of Water (FLOW), discusses the implications of Nestle's involvement with a local water supply.

Amid transition to clean energy, utilities tackle water conservation

March 4, 2018

MiBiz

In February, Consumers Energy pledged to save one billion gallons of water in the next five years. Water usage is a huge, often underlooked, part of the energy sector.

Nestlé-style water withdrawals would be easier in Michigan under new bill, critics say

February 27, 2018

Detroit Free Press

Michigan state house representative, Aaron Miller's bill would let businesses and farms use their own experts' analyses to gain approval for large-scale water withdrawals. It would be more difficult for the public to learn the farmers' and businesses' analyses, as they would be exempt from disclosure under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.

Michiganders fight back against against water privatization as Nestlé tries to increase water intake

February 17, 2018

Nation of Change

Residents of Michigan are writing letters, holding meetings, and going door-to-door to demand clean, public water for Michigan.

President's proposed budget cuts Great Lakes Restoration Funding

February 13, 2018

UpNorthLive

President Trump proposes a 90% cut in the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for the 2018-19 budget. The initiative has bipartisan support in many Great Lakes states.


Campaign releases Line 5 removal plan

January 17, 2018

Record Eagle

The Oil & Water Don't Mix campaign released a plan Tuesday to decommission Enbridge's Line 5 while finding alternatives to supply the Upper Peninsula with propane and transport crude oil pumped in the northern Lower Peninsula. For Love Of Water Executive Director Liz Kirkwood said she and others with the Traverse City-based nonprofit helped with the five-step plan that implores Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette to take action.


Advocacy group: 'State must stop the delays,' shut down Line 5

January 16, 2018

MLive

"Simply put, the state must stop the delays and stop kicking the can," said Liz Kirkwood, executive director of For Love of Water (FLOW). "The 65-year-old Line 5 pipelines pose too great a threat to the Great Lakes."


Michigan leaders have tunnel vision on Line 5

December 19, 2017

Bridge Magazine

Jim Olson speaks to the "tunnel vision" of our state leaders when it comes to the alternatives for Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac. 


Washington waffles; Should states take lead on Great Lakes?

October 31, 2017

Great Lakes Now

While federal funding is important to help fund Great Lakes protection, the states should be prioritizing the Great Lakes and funding them, says FLOW advisor Dave Dempsey.


Op-Ed: Enbridge losing credibility across region

October 22, 2017

Traverse City Record Eagle

FLOW's Liz Kirkwood authored this piece in the Record Eagle illustrating how Michigan should follow Minnesota's lead pertaining to Enbridge. The state has the authority to shut down the Line 5 pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac - and they should do so immediately. 


The ‘long game’: How Michigan could be building a case to close Line 5

October 10, 2017

Midwest Energy News

The lengthy state review of safety issues associated with the Enbridge Line 5 pipelines at the Straits of Mackinac continues -- but the case for a shutdown is building.  In Midwest Energy News, FLOW's Liz Kirkwood comments on the delay in a risk assessment of the line.  There is more than enough evidence for the state to act.


Nestlé Makes Billions Bottling Water It Pays Nearly Nothing For

September 21, 2017

Bloomberg Businessweek

Bloomberg takes a look at Nestle's profit of bottled water, paying nearly nothing for the water it sells and seeking out areas with lax laws to conduct business. Jim Olson points out how Nestle's data does not reflect real world conditions in Michigan and the importance of water as a public right. 


Inspections show Line 5 coating gaps larger than disclosed

September 14, 2017

MLive

"Patches of bare metal larger than dinner plates" are found on Line 5. FLOW and officials express their concern about the state of the line and the need for action. 

 


Officials call for Line 5 repairs

September 3, 2017

Record Eagle

Gaps are found in the coating of the Line 5 pipeline. FLOW's Dave Dempsey and others stress that the Great Lakes cannot be entrusted to Enbridge, and that it is time for the state to decommission the pipeline.


Reporter's Notebook: How much Detroit water do Coke and Pepsi use?

August 3, 2017

Michigan Radio

Kaye LaFond takes a look at Coke, Pepsi, and other bottlers of Michigan's water in this story. Concerns are expressed about diversions of water outside of the Great Lakes Basin and the privatization and commodification of water. 


Joint Fundraising Event with Groundwork Center at Betsie Bay Furniture

August 3, 2017

On Thursday, a group of area residents and visitors gathered at Betsie Bay Furniture in Frankfort, Michigan, to learn about the status of Line 5 and the 64-year-old pipelines pushing nearly 23 million gallons of oil through the heart of the Great Lakes. In this short audio clip (produced by Leslie Hamp, Frankfort), many shared their thoughts, concerns and why they are imploring Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney Bill Schuette to Shut Down Line 5. Take a listen to the Voice of the People.