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A Fresh Start for Fresh Water in Michigan


It is a fresh start for fresh water in Michigan.

Tuesday’s election of a new governor who stressed clean water issues offers opportunities that did not exist before the vote. A chief executive who champions water not only can persuade legislators to act, but also has the ability to act on her own by appointing water protectors to run state agencies and to serve on boards and commissions. And by directing them to take the steps needed to protect our water and our environment generally.

Gretchen Whitmer’s election also provides an opportunity for the state at last to take decisive action to protect the Great Lakes and the Pure Michigan economy from Enbridge’s Line 5 pipelines. She and the new attorney general of her own party will have several legal options for doing so.

Just as important, the new governor can promote water justice. Along with decommissioning Line 5, this is a top priority for FLOW. She can take the lead on legislation that will prevent water privatization by companies like Nestlé and help hard-pressed citizens of urban and rural areas access clean, affordable drinking water. FLOW has drafted model legislation that will serve as a template.

At the same time, the opposing party retains control of both houses of the state Legislature. This sometimes leads to gridlock, but water and health should not be partisan issues. Michigan government has served the people best when protecting the environment was a value shared regardless of party — as in the 1970s, when Republican Governor William Milliken and a Democratic Legislature enacted our landmark environmental laws.

Our new Governor and Legislature are guided by the same state constitution, which says: “The conservation and development of the natural resources of the state are hereby declared to be of paramount public concern in the interest of the health, safety and general welfare of the people. The legislature shall provide for the protection of the air, water and other natural resources of the state from pollution, impairment and destruction.”

If the governor-elect and new Legislature operate together in accordance with that mandate, our water will be well protected.


Michiganders Can Vote for Water

When Michiganders cast votes on November 6, remember that more than candidates are on the ballot. So are water and the public trust. We encourage all voters to put Michigan water’s stewardship agenda at the center of their decision-making. The next governor, attorney general, and legislature will face historic opportunities and challenges. Will candidates for these offices also put water at the center of their decisions?

Here are some of the key decisions that Michigan officials will face in protecting its water assets:

Shut down Line 5 at the Straits of Mackinac. These antiquated 65-year-old pipelines convey almost 23 million gallons per day of petroleum products along the public bottomlands of the Straits. They pose an unacceptable risk of a spill that could cause ecological devastation and deliver a more than $6 billion blow to Michigan’s economy. Instead of focusing on a backroom deal for a tunnel that would keep Line 5 operating at least 7 to 10 years, the governor, attorney general, and legislature should work together to terminate Enbridge’s dangerous pipeline occupancy of the publicly-owned lakebed.

End Nestlé’s profiteering off public water and secure public water benefits. At a cost of $200 per year in state fees, Nestlé is making hundreds of millions of dollars in profit annually by pumping groundwater that would otherwise feed wetlands and streams and bottling and selling it. In effect, Nestlé is selling back to the public its own water at a markup of more than 2,000 percent. The governor and legislature should subject all private capture and sale of municipal water and groundwater to state regulation, impose royalties to benefit public water needs, and prohibit withdrawals that have unacceptable impacts on sensitive water resources. FLOW has prepared model legislation to accomplish this.

Prevent and remediate Michigan’s groundwater contamination. About 45 percent of Michigan’s population depends on groundwater for drinking water supplies. Unfortunately, there are 6,000 legacy groundwater contamination sites for which there is no state cleanup funding, an estimated 130,000 failing septic systems, thousands of private water wells contaminated with dangerous nitrate, and a significant number of sites where our water is contaminated with toxic PFAS compounds. The governor and legislature should enact laws to address ongoing threats to groundwater quality and create a fund to clean up legacy contamination sites. FLOW’s groundwater strategy provides a useful road map.

Assure access to clean, safe, affordable water for all Michigan citizens. It is simply wrong that in a water-abundant state, thousands of households are priced out of access to basic water services in communities including Flint and Detroit. The governor and legislature should provide seed money and mandate public utility water pricing that assures all citizens can afford basic domestic water services.

Invest in drinking water and sewage treatment infrastructure. An infrastructure panel appointed by Gov. Snyder found that the state faces a gap of $1 billion annually between available funding and drinking water and sewage treatment infrastructure needs. These needs are not frills; they are fundamental to everything from human sanitation to healthy aquatic life. The governor and legislature should close that gap with a large-scale funding commitment.

Bring the public back into state environmental decision-making. The best environmental policy, including water policy, is made in the sunshine. Too often in the last decade, closed-door deals and private contacts have shut out the public. The governor and legislature should provide full public transparency for, and public participation in, the decision-making processes of our environmental agencies.

Even this long list is just the beginning. Many candidates profess their support for water. Your vote can put in office those who will turn that sentiment into action.


What the Water Says

Photo: Charles Brackett


Inspired by FLOW’s Campaign for Fresh Water
by Jaimien Delp


Maybe there was a specific moment when it happened: the first time you saw a kiteboarder on the bay, or the evening you dipped a paddle to the surface of an inland lake so smooth you felt a part of something surreal when you looked down and found the sky and your own gaze reflected back to you. Maybe the feeling struck you quite suddenly, say, on a fall color hike along the shores of Lake Michigan, or the afternoon you held your palm flush to the current of the Boardman River and recognized for the first time a seamlessness between yourself and something wild and elemental.  

Or maybe your love of water began years before you even realized it.  Like time, maybe water is a thing that has shaped your life quietly, a presence you’ve grown towards so steadily and naturally you’ve hardly felt the need to name it.  Suppose your childhood is one long story of rivers and streams, summer days adrift in a rowboat, a montage of Great Lakes waves and pools and rivulets that have buoyed you into adulthood, always present in the backdrop of memory or the moment, easy as breath.  

Easy as forgetting what water truly means to life when it has always surrounded you, softly and in such abundance, and without asking anything in return.  

Photo: Charles Brackett

My own love story with Northern Michigan’s water began well before any memory of it and reaffirms itself over and over again in moments.  I love watching the sun melt into waves at secret beaches in summer. I love standing in a river’s current. I love the sound of water, the smell of it, the sensation of slipping in and giving over whatever heaviness I might have been wearing.  

I often wonder, though, where does the heaviness go?  What do the lakes and rivers do with it? How much of our mess can we dump into these watersheds, and how much of its beauty and wealth can we take for ourselves, or have stolen from us, before it’s all gone?  

These are questions of feeling, yes, but they have taken on very tangible meaning in recent decades within the Great Lakes states.  We are living in an era of mounting urgency when it comes to matters of clean, safe and affordable water for all; of correcting the failures of our leaders to abide by their Constitutional and common law duties to protect the invaluable resource of our watersheds from pollution, privatization and the desecration that follows; of the most fundamental principles of water justice, equality and people over profit.  

We are all familiar with the headlines about the Flint water crisis, the ongoing water shutoffs to households in Detroit, with oil spills and lead poisoning and PFAS, with the risks to resources and society that corporations like Nestlé and Enbridge hang their hats on.  We know, on the most basic human level, that our watersheds are threatened.  That our streams cannot sustain such giants coming in with taps and pumps to bottle and sell away our water, and virtually for free.  That we, by virtue of our elected leaders, are allowing for the destruction of a resource absolutely vital to the survival of our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren…

Photo: Charles Brackett

The magnitude of the problem is vast, and often illusive to the naked eye.  You see, our water is so lovely to look upon, so vibrant and seemingly endless when you stand at the peak of Pyramid Point, or when you cross the Mackinac Bridge, that it’s difficult to believe a rusted pair of pipelines are pumping crude oil just below, threatening to burst. Or that not far away, a corporate giant is sucking the landscape dry.  

Photos of Enbridge’s oil spill in the Kalamazoo River (the birds black as ink, the men in masks, the utter mess of it) seem almost implausible, impossibly far away from what you know of beauty when you breathe in such a contrary scene. Not to mention those bottles of Nestlé water lining the shelves of grocery stores, gas stations, your friend’s refrigerator… that couldn’t really be from your watershed, could it?

What can be done? The question resonates. I am small, and the problem is massive, complex, far-reaching, so much larger than me… How do I protect the water I love?  The question dissipates in the air above one of the river pools you go to for answers, seems to grow a bit lost…

But the truth is, there are solutions to ensure clean, safe, affordable water for all, and FLOW is leading the way towards this opportunity for actualized, real change.  FLOW president and renowned water attorney Jim Olson, Executive Director and water law expert Liz Kirkwood, and their team of highly specialized lawyers, scientists and staff have been working tirelessly to shape and launch the Campaign for Fresh Water. The campaign offers an in-depth, comprehensive and innovative look at emerging threats to our groundwater, details the most current analysis of Line 5, exposes loopholes in the Great Lakes Compact, and ultimately, unveils new hope for the future of Michigan’s water – and so the future of public health – in the Public Water, Public Justice Act.  This model legislation, pioneered by Jim alongside FLOW’s team, and with input from experts across the state, brings the intertwined water and health crisis in Michigan under one comprehensive legal framework, and reprioritizes protecting our public water for the health of generations to come.  

Sometimes when I sit by the water, I think about her voice, what she is saying in those moments of strong current, or purling waves, or when the oil spills, or when the Nestlé pumps appear.  Recently in New Zealand, after over 140 years of negotiation, the Whanganui River was granted the same legal rights as a human being.  The Māori tribe was finally able to have the river legally recognized as an ancestor, with two individuals elected as guardians to speak on the river’s behalf.  What do they know that we are still learning, here in this part of the world, in this country, in this state?  Perhaps that where the water thrives, the people will thrive. That the health of one directly informs the health of the other, and that there is no separating the two, not for anything.  I’m grateful to organizations like FLOW, to campaigns like the Campaign for Fresh Water, and to those unwavering, sure voices who show us the way to a brighter, healthier, sustainable future.  


About the Author: Jaimien Delp is a long-time friend of FLOW and an award-winning writer and lecturer who divides her time between Ann Arbor, where she teaches in the English Department at the University of Michigan, and all the watery places in Northern Michigan.  She earned her MFA in creative writing from the Helen Zell Writers’ Program, where she was the recipient of a Zell Postgraduate Fellowship. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as Orion, Mid-American Review, Bridge Magazine, Dunes Review, Traverse Magazine, and The Smoking Poet.  Most recently, she has a piece in ELEMENTAL, Wayne State University Press’ forthcoming anthology of nonfiction, and has joined the editorial team at Mission Point Press.


 

Friday Favorite: Grand Traverse Commons


Though not the flashiest or most spectacular, this week’s Friday favorite is my regular place to hike. It is less of a handsome tuxedo and more of a favorite autumn sweater. One summer in Traverse City, I hiked somewhere in this network of trails every day. I am talking about the Grand Traverse Commons Natural Area, nestled in the old State Hospital grounds.

A perfect place to walk a dog, meet a friend, or test your new mountain bike, the Commons is just that – a common area for everyone to enjoy.

Revisiting my old familiar grounds this week, I stomped up a hill to a place I had forgotten about. Tucked back in the trails is a freshwater spring sprouting out of the dirt and spilling down the rocks and roots nearby. It carried more weight this week because we just released our report, The Sixth Great Lake: The Emergency Threatening Michigan’s Overlooked Groundwater Resource.

Nayt Boyt, Office Manager

The sixth Great Lake – the groundwater that exists beneath our feet – is the unsung and unseen hero. We rely on groundwater for much of our daily use yet do not often see it, but every so often, we see it emerge as a spring.

 

Can you find this spring in the Commons?


 

Water (Civil) Wars?

Great Lakes from Space

Dr. Daniel Macfarlane is an Assistant Professor in the Freshwater Science and Sustainability program in Western Michigan University’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. He is the author or co-editor of published books on the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project and US-Canada border waters, and forthcoming books on the International Joint Commission and the manipulation of Niagara Falls. Twitter: @Danny__Mac__


Since the turn of the 20th century, phrases like “water wars” and “water is the new oil” have become so oft-repeated that they are virtually truisms. Recognition of the accelerating impacts of climate change has only intensified worries about transborder water problems.

Transborder water issues are valid concerns: Line 5 and invasive species are at the top of water worries in Michigan, and the 2008 Great Lakes Compact is meant to prevent death by a thousand straws. My own research focuses on the transnational aspects of water infrastructure in the Great Lakes, particularly the ways the United States and Canada have remade rivers like the Niagara and St. Lawrence for hydropower and navigation, or diversions and attempts to alter water levels on the sweetwater seas.

But I’m beginning to wonder whether a focus on international water conflicts, or framing water as a resource akin to oil, have had some sneaky and pernicious downsides. 

The “water is the new oil” trope creates a false equivalency between water and oil. Oil isn’t necessary for human or planetary life. Water is not comparable to oil, nor should it be privately controlled and commodified. Furthermore, if you think about it, all the predictions about “water wars” haven’t really come true (at least not yet, thankfully).

Granted, that may be precisely because so many folks have been paying attention and trying to prevent such conflicts. But all the emphasis on international water wars has, arguably, led us to ignore the water conflicts – and crimes – that happen within, not across, borders. Not over there, but here. Not just in arid areas, but in those with water abundance. Hence the use of “civil” in the title of this post – not to invoke respect and politeness, but battles between citizens.

We’re so used to worrying about water quantity – i.e., diversions – that we can forget that we can create water scarcity not only through consumptive use, but by threatening water quality. Just take Michigan: sitting in the heart of the greatest freshwater system on earth, yet many of its inhabitants are justifiably scared to drink their tap water. Just in the last few years, the Great Lakes state has experienced many water traumas. Detroit water shut-offs. The Flint Water Crisis. Nestle bottling groundwater for virtually nothing (about two hours away from Flint no less, where they were paying the nation’s highest prices for the nation’s most dangerous water). And now PFAS.

Obviously, the Flint crisis is in a league of its own. But water problems bedevil many communities, and we are too prone to thinking it can’t happen in my community. Throw a dart at a map of Michigan, and there is a decent chance you’ll hit a water problem. 

In my neck of the woods, Kalamazoo, we have had many serious water issues as of late. The eponymous river is a Superfund site from a long history of papermaking, and we’re still in the midst of remediation. And in 2010 the river was the recipient of one of the largest inland oil spills in American history. Just within the last year or two, we have experienced record flooding. And now PFAS contamination is rearing its toxic head in places all along the Kalamazoo River. 

We need to remain vigilant about external threats to water, but we can’t become passive about internal threats. The passage of the 2008 Great Lakes Compact is a great and necessary thing – yet I’m more worried about consumptive uses in the basin than I am about Ogallala aquifer states coming for Great Lakes water. I’m much more worried about what Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin are doing to water in the Great Lakes basin – and to each other – than I am about California or Arizona sucking water from Lake Superior. The Chicago Diversion alone is an abomination, a ticking time bomb that we are seemingly powerless to stop because of the craven cowardice of certain special interests and officials. 

Dr. Daniel MacFarlane, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability

Local governments have failed to protect us. With water so central to life on this spinning globe – for us and for the rest of the living world – water concerns must be grounded in law, history, policy, economics, and ethics.

We need a committed return to the public trust doctrine, the legal principle that water is to be held “in trust” by the state for the benefit of the people. And a good place to start is with FLOW’s recently proposed model water legislation to protect Michigan’s waters by: affirming public ownership of water, protecting against water privatization, and if we are going to allow bottled water, then recoup royalties.


The Campaign for Fresh Water

FLOW Releases Model Legislation to Protect Michigan’s Public Waters and the Rights of the People Who Depend on Them from Unauthorized Privatization

We’re writing today to invite you to join us in an exciting and critical new venture, the launch of The Campaign for Fresh Water, FLOW’s comprehensive and solutions-based response to the current water crises in Michigan. Over the coming months, we’ll be unveiling several sub-campaigns, each central to the overall goal of The Campaign for Fresh Water. Here, you will find groundbreaking reports, model legislation, FLOW’s response to the most current and critical water issues, and opportunities to participate.

FLOW’s mission has always been clear: public access to clean, safe, affordable water for all. Still, mounting threats to the quality and quantity of our waters, and the issues of social justice surrounding both, have reached a level of incredible urgency. Here at FLOW, we recognize that such urgency calls for organized, all-encompassing and grand scale action. In response, we have been hard at work identifying key threats, the science and law governing each, and developing the achievable, sustainable action necessary to put an end to the profound water injustice, toxic water quality and water privatization trends we have seen occurring throughout the Great Lakes Region.

Yesterday’s release of model legislation, Public Water, Public Justice, is part of a larger effort to address the great inequity between bottled water companies like Nestlé and the great suffering of residents in Detroit, Flint, and increasingly beyond as the PFAS-contaminated groundwater crisis threatens drinking water supplies across Michigan.

FLOW is calling on Michigan and the seven other Great Lakes states to pass this model legislation in order to:

  • Affirm public ownership over water.
  • Protect sensitive water resources.
  • Prohibit the sale of water except for authorized bottled water by a licensing and royalty system.
  • Recoup for public purposes royalties derived from these bottled water sales. This model law places royalties into a public water, health and justice trust fund to serve people and communities for specific dedicated public purposes, such as replacing lead service lines or creating water affordability plans for disadvantaged people in cities and rural communities.

Jim Olson, FLOW’s founder and president, water rights attorney, and a principal author of the model legislation said, “For over two decades, citizens have witnessed government leaders and elected officials retreat from their paramount constitutional and common law duty to protect public water, health, and the common good above all else. This has resulted in a culture of indifference in which water, people, and health are last, and political agendas and economic interests are first, an indifference that led to the water shutoffs in Detroit, the Flint water crisis, and free sovereign water for a highly profitable bottled water industry, with nothing in return for the needs of the people of Michigan. It is time to right the ship, and restore the public trust and paramount common good on which water governance is founded.”

“My mother, Edna Leak, who passed away just shy of celebrating her 101st birthday was a compassionate water protector,” said Lila Cabbil from the People’s Water Board. “She used to say, ‘You know you can be fined for not giving a dog water, there should be a fine for not giving humans water. It’s not right!’ As her daughter, I too have seen firsthand in Detroit countless times how losing access to water takes a dreadful toll on health and human dignity. This model legislation – Public Water, Public Justice – counters water privatization, protects our water as a commons and human right, and works for water equity and justice. Let the tragedies of Flint and Detroit shape our future so that the people of Michigan never have to worry about access to safe, clean, affordable drinking water.”

“This legislation affirms Michigan’s duty as steward of the Great Lakes for the public trust and its commitment to the people of the state that water is a human right. It is based on the historic principle that water is for the public and cannot be owned or sold. The legislation in this way codifies century-old Supreme Court rulings,” said Noah Hall, Professor of Law, Wayne State University Law School, Founder and Scholarship Director, Great Lakes Environmental Law Center. “And it advances human rights, recognizing that water is our most basic physical need. In this regard the legislation is a step forward where American law has been falling behind, as the human right to water has already been recognized by over 100 other countries. The Great Lakes and the people of Michigan deserve this legislation.”

“Public Water, Public Justice,” is available to the public here and, in addition to the model legislation, includes a two-page bill summary, legal primer, and full report presenting the legal and socio-economic context of water rights and water crises in Michigan.

The work ahead is sure to be challenging and will require fierce commitment, but if these solutions are approached together, our belief in a thriving future for Michigan’s water is unwavering. With your help, change is entirely within reach. We thank you for your support and resilience and look forward to sharing this important work with you as we unite to restore water justice, water quality, and water for all.


 

Public Water, Public Justice

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 19, 2018

Jim Olson, President, Legal Advisor
Dave Dempsey, Senior Policy Advisor
Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director
FLOW (For Love of Water)
Office: (231) 944-1568, Cell: (570) 872-4956

“Public Water, Public Justice”

FLOW Releases Model Legislation to Protect Michigan’s Public Waters and the Rights of the People Who Depend on Them from Unauthorized Privatization

Traverse City, Michigan – Drawing upon decades of experience and after a year of research, conversation, and analysis in collaboration with many people and organizations, FLOW today released “Public Water, Public Justice,” model legislation designed to protect Michigan’s public waters, and the rights of the people who depend on them, from unauthorized privatization.

The release by FLOW, the Great Lakes law and policy center, aims to focus the public debate and prime the legislative process, while also offering a blueprint for crafting similar legislation across the Great Lakes Basin.

“Public Water, Public Justice,” is available to the public on FLOW’s website and, in addition to the model legislation, includes a two-page bill summary, legal primer, and full report presenting the legal and socio-economic context of water rights and water crises in Michigan.

The release also marks the official launch of FLOW’s The Campaign for Fresh Water,” a three-part initiative to be unveiled through the fall to engage the public in protecting and ensuring public access to the Great Lakes and groundwater in Michigan and throughout the Great Lakes watershed. The campaign’s overarching goal is to safeguard the health and availability of the public’s waters for generations to come.

The model legislation, developed by FLOW with key input from many partners and stakeholders, aims to bring Michigan’s colliding water crises under a comprehensive legal framework and rebalance Michigan’s priorities in protecting its water and its people.

At the same time that water-bottling giant Nestlé takes public water at virtually no cost and reaps windfall profits, thousands of Michigan citizens – both city dwellers and rural residents – lack access to clean, safe and affordable water. Over 100,000 Detroit households have suffered water shutoffs, and thousands of Flint children and residents have suffered lead poisoning in the fourth year of an ongoing water and public health emergency.

“For over two decades, citizens have witnessed government leaders and elected officials retreat from their paramount constitutional and common law duty to protect public water, health, and the common good above all else,” said Jim Olson, FLOW’s founder and president, water rights attorney, and a principal author of the model legislation. “This has resulted in a culture of indifference in which water, people, and health are last, and political agendas and economic interests are first, an indifference that led to the water shutoffs in Detroit, the Flint water crisis, and free sovereign water for a highly profitable bottled water industry, with nothing in return for the needs of the people of Michigan. It is time to right the ship, and restore the public trust and paramount common good on which water governance are founded.”  

FLOW is calling on Michigan and the seven other Great Lakes states to pass this model legislation in order to:

  • Affirm public ownership over water.
  • Protect sensitive water resources.
  • Prohibit the sale of water except for authorized bottled water by a licensing and royalty system.
  • Recoup for public purposes royalties derived from these bottled water sales. This model law places royalties into a public water, health and justice trust fund to serve people and communities for specific dedicated public purposes, such as replacing lead service lines or creating water affordability plans for disadvantaged people in cities and rural communities.

“The seed for this project was sown in April 2017 during the hearing at Ferris State University in Big Rapids on Nestlé’s permit for its 210 million gallon-a-year bottled water well, and germinated during the Flint ‘Water Is Life’ conference held at Woodside Church in the fall of 2017,” said Dave Dempsey, FLOW’s Senior Advisor, and architect of The Campaign for Fresh Water. “That’s where large, organized groups of people from Detroit and Flint joined environmental and water advocates from across Michigan to decry the State’s collapse of water protection, and water service shutoffs, and ignoring its duty to protect these commons under the public trust doctrine and constitution.”

“My mother, Edna Leak, who passed away just shy of celebrating her 101st birthday was a compassionate water protector,” said Lila Cabbil from the People’s Water Board. “She used to say, ‘You know you can be fined for not giving a dog water, there should be a fine for not giving humans water. It's not right!’ As her daughter, I too have seen firsthand in Detroit countless times how losing access to water takes a dreadful toll on health and human dignity. This model legislation – Public Water, Public Justice – counters water privatization, protects our water as a commons and human right, and works for water equity and justice. Let the tragedies of Flint and Detroit shape our future so that the people of Michigan never have to worry about access to safe, clean, affordable drinking water.”

FLOW sees this model legislation as a key effort to address the great inequity between bottled water companies like Nestlé and the great suffering of residents in Detroit, Flint, and increasingly beyond as the PFAS-contaminated groundwater crisis threatens drinking water supplies across Michigan.

“At FLOW we have faith that now is the time to shift our whole way of seeing and protecting water as public above all. It is time that we reject a governance culture that puts these interests last, and instead provide one that  restores these shared common and paramount interests that respect water, health, and human dignity,” said FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood. “It is our hope that this proposed law and report will inspire a groundswell of people from all walks of life to forge a new, water-first framework that prioritizes protection and public trust access to the Great Lakes and groundwater as a commons and human right.”

“This legislation affirms Michigan’s duty as steward of the Great Lakes for the public trust and its commitment to the people of the state that water is a human right. It is based on the historic principle that water is for the public and cannot be owned or sold. The legislation in this way codifies century-old Supreme Court rulings,” said Noah Hall, Professor of Law, Wayne State University Law School, Founder and Scholarship Director, Great Lakes Environmental Law Center. “And it advances human rights, recognizing that water is our most basic physical need. In this regard the legislation is a step forward where American law has been falling behind, as the human right to water has already been recognized by over 100 other countries. The Great Lakes and the people of Michigan deserve this legislation.”

For more information, visit FLOW’s website at www.FLOWforWater.org.

 

###

Model Legislation: Public Water, Public Justice

This year, in violation of clear constitutional and legal mandates, the State of Michigan has handed out permits allowing for the destruction of Michigan’s water and natural resources. In order to protect our water - which by law belongs to the people - FLOW has created model legislation to regain public control and to prevent recurring crises like Flint and Detroit and windfall profits for bottled water companies like Nestlé.

Download the media release here.


About the Legislation

The Great Lakes belong to all of us. And yet, state policy in Michigan allows private for-profit corporations to extract these waters and sell them for mammoth profits. This is not only inconsistent with public trust law, but a raw deal for the citizenry. At the same time that Nestlé is taking public water at virtually no cost and reaping windfall profits, thousands of Michigan citizens – both city dwellers and rural residents – do not have access to clean, safe and affordable water. Over 100,000 Detroit households have suffered water shutoffs and thousands of Flint children and residents suffered lead poisoning in the fourth year of an ongoing water crisis. No current law addresses both the sale of water for profit and the protection of drinking water and public health with new infrastructure funds.

Why Model Legislation?

FLOW developed this model legislation, Public Water, Public Justice, to bring these colliding water crises under a comprehensive legal framework and to recalibrate Michigan’s priorities on protecting its water and its people. Michigan and the seven other Great Lakes states should pass this model legislation drafted by FLOW in order to:

  • Affirm public ownership over water,
  • Protect sensitive water resources,
  • Prohibit the sale of water except for the sale of bottled water authorized by a royalty licensing system, and
  • Recoup for public purposes royalties derived from these bottled water sales.

This model law places royalties into a public water, health and justice trust fund to serve people and communities for specific dedicated public purposes, such as replacing lead service lines or creating water affordability plans for disadvantaged people or cities and rural communities.

 

 

 

 

"It is time to put water and health where they belong—paramount to all other interests of government or private sectors."
- Jim Olson


Main Points of the Model Legislation

  1. Water is public & protected by the state.
  2. Everyone has the right to safe, clean, affordable, healthy water.
  3. Private sale of water for profit is prohibited unless strictly licensed to avoid environmental harm to our waterways.
  4. Spring water removal is eliminated to protect our headwaters that feed our inland lakes and rivers.
  5. A royalty system will be created that reimburses the state for licensed and approved sale of water and establishes a Public Water, Health and Justice Fund.
  6. This Trust Fund will have a diverse representation in order to harness knowledge and collaborative impact from agencies, experts and communities across Michigan.
  7. Direct goals of the Public Water, Health and Justice Fund include:
         (a) Access to clean, affordable water, or to municipalities who provide tiered or reverse-tiered pricing;
         (b) Public infrastructure, provided systems are in place for equitable, affordable access;
         (c) Conservation technology and research;
         (d) Health needs;
         (e) Water source protection.

Downloadable Key Documents:


The Campaign for Fresh Water

FLOW's mission has always been clear: public access to clean, safe and affordable water for all.  

Still, mounting threats to the quality and quantity of our waters, and the issues of social justice surrounding both, have reached a level of incredible urgency.  Here at FLOW, we recognize that such urgency calls for organized, all-encompassing and grand scale action. In response, we have been hard at work identifying key threats, the science and law governing each, and developing the achievable, sustainable action necessary to put an end to the profound water injustice, toxic water quality and water privatization trends we have seen occurring throughout the Great Lakes Region.

Over the coming months, we will be unveiling several sub-campaigns, each central to the overall goal of The Campaign for Fresh Water.  Here, you will find groundbreaking reports, model legislation, FLOW’s response to the most current and critical water issues, and opportunities to participate.


Model Legislation: Public Water, Public Justice

In order to protect our water - which by law belongs to the people - FLOW has created model legislation to regain public control and to prevent reoccurring crises like in Flint and Detroit and windfall profits for bottled water companies like Nestlé.

The Sixth Great Lake: The Emergency Threatening Michigan’s Overlooked Groundwater Resource

Michigan is “The Great Lakes State” but is a failing steward of the sixth Great Lake, the water lying beneath Michigan’s ground.

Great Lakes Compact: Restore Integrity to State Water Withdrawal Laws

FLOW’s comprehensive assessment of the compact sheds light on these exceptions and their precedents for siphoning Great Lakes water while offering solutions to shore up weaknesses in state water withdrawal laws.


With your help, change is entirely within reach.

The work ahead is sure to be challenging and will require fierce commitment, but if these solutions are approached together, our belief in a thriving future for Michigan’s water is unwavering.  We thank you for your support and resilience and look forward to sharing this important work with you as we unite to restore water justice, water quality, and water for all.  

Recent Posts:

Reports & Media Releases

Snyder Administration Knowingly Violates State Law, Constitution in Race to Seal ‘Line 5’ Oil Tunnel Deals || December 17, 2018

In a rush to give away public land, water, and taxpayer resources to the private Canadian pipeline company Enbridge before departing office in 13 days, Gov. Rick Snyder and his administration are knowingly taking steps that trample Michigan law and openly violate the state constitution, while locking in at least...Read more »


Gridlock on the Great Lakes: ‘Line 5’ Oil Spill Threatens a $45 Billion Blow to Shipping, Steel Production, and Jobs || November 20, 2018

A Line 5 oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac could trigger a domino effect of damage disrupting Great Lakes commercial shipping and steel production, slashing jobs, and shrinking the nation’s Gross Domestic Product by $45 billion after just 15 days, according to a report....Read more »


FLOW’s Legal Analysis: Snyder-Enbridge Oil Tunnel Deal Risks the Mackinac Bridge’s Fiscal Integrity, Violates Environmental Laws || November 1, 2018

The use of the legal powers of the Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA) to facilitate an oil tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac, as proposed by outgoing Gov. Rick Snyder in a secretly negotiated deal with Enbridge Energy Partners, violates environmental provisions of Michigan’s Constitution....Read more »


Gov. Snyder’s “Line 5” Oil Tunnel Increases Risk of Great Lakes Oil Spill || October 3, 2018

Make no mistake, Gov. Rick Snyder’s oil tunnel proposal announced today increases the likelihood of an oil spill disaster in the Straits of Mackinac, the very heart of the Great Lakes. The Governor’s proposed tunnel, to be completed in 7 to 10 years, means Enbridge will continue to pump 23...Read more »


Michigan Groundwater Emergency || September 25, 2018

Michigan’s groundwater resources are in deteriorating condition, and changes in state policy are urgently needed to restore it, FLOW said in a report released today. The report by FLOW, the Great Lakes law and policy center, says Michigan law and policy have adopted an “out of sight, out of mind”... Read more »


Public Water, Public Justice || September 19, 2018

Drawing upon decades of experience and after a year of research, conversation, and analysis in collaboration with many people and organizations, FLOW today released “Public Water, Public Justice,” model legislation designed to protect Michigan’s public waters, and the rights of the people who depend on them, from unauthorized privatization... Read more »


State-Commissioned Line 5 Risk Analysis Underlines Urgency of Shutdown, FLOW Says || August 21, 2018

Even the significantly understated economic impacts of a spill from Line 5 at the Straits of Mackinac in a state-commissioned analysis reveal a fiscal and human price tag too high for the people of Michigan, FLOW (For Love of Water) said in comments submitted to Lansing officials before Sunday’s.. Read more »


FLOW Says Army Corps Must Conduct Full Environmental Review of Line 5 || July 20, 2018

Enbridge’s latest in a long series of requests for government approval of a change in design that elevates a large portion of Line 5 pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac must trigger a full environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a Great Lakes law and policy center.. Read more »


FLOW to Snyder and Schuette: Stop Delays, Scrap Side Deal, and Shut Down "Line 5" Pipelines to Prevent Great Lakes Oil Spill Disaster || July 16, 2018

Michigan is moving closer to a Great Lakes oil spill disaster and farther from a real alternative to the decaying oil pipelines in the Mackinac Straits, according to a Great Lakes law and policy center’s review released today of technical reports produced by Line 5-owner Enbridge at the direction.. Read more »


Latest Enbridge Reports Underscore Line 5's Vulnerability to 400 Michigan Waterways || June 29, 2018

Enbridge today released three reports required as part of the November 2017 agreement with the Governor concerning Line 5. The reports examine possible methodologies to mitigate potential leaks from Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac and at nearly 400 water crossings throughout Michigan.

“These reports from Enbridge provide a.. Read more »


Proposed "Line 5" Tunnel Under the Mackinac Straits Ignores Looming Disaster || June 15, 2018

A Canadian oil transport company would be assured billions of dollars in more profit, while the Great Lakes and Michigan’s tourist economy would face decades of more risk of an oil spill disaster from a new Line 5 pipeline tunnel or trench under the Mackinac Straits, as envisioned in a.. Read more »


FLOW Demands State Reject Latest Enbridge Ploy || May 14, 2018

In comments submitted to state officials Friday, FLOW is urging state regulators to deny a bid by Enbridge Energy to install 48 new anchor supports on dangerous Line 5 at the Straits of Mackinac while evading scrutiny of alternatives that would protect the environment.

Enbridge’s latest request, if approved, would.. Read more »


FLOW Challenges Wisconsin's Approval of Lake Michigan Water Diversion || May 14, 2018

A Lake Michigan water diversion approved by the State of Wisconsin is inconsistent with the Great Lakes Compact and threatens an open season on Great Lakes water, FLOW said today.

The Traverse City, Michigan-based science and law center asked Great Lakes governors and a Regional Body established by the.. Read more »


Line 5 Economic Report || May 2, 2018

A Line 5 oil spill could deliver a blow of over $6 billion in economic impacts and natural resource damages to Michigan’s economy, according to a study commissioned by FLOW. Conducted by nationally respected ecological economist Dr. Robert Richardson of Michigan State University, the study for the first time adds... Read more »


Public Comment to Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board || December 13, 2017

Good evening, and thank you for the opportunity to comment on what is unfortunately a deeply flawed final Line 5 alternatives study. The people of Michigan are ill-served by this study. It cannot serve as a basis for an informed and intelligent decision about the fate of this profound.. Read more »


Liz Kirkwood's Comment to the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board || December 11, 2017

Over two years ago, the Governor of Michigan created this Advisory Board by Executive Order to “Review and make recommendations for statutory, regulatory, and contractual implementation of the Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force Report.” This meant the board was required to oversee an independent and comprehensive analysis of risks.. Read more »


FLOW Responds to State-Enbridge Agreement || November 27, 2017

FLOW issued the following statement today regarding the announcement of an agreement between the state of Michigan and Enbridge Energy concerning the company’s Line 5 oil pipelines in the open waters of the Mackinac Straits, where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet:

“It is imprudent and arbitrary for the Governor.. Read more »


Pitting Corrosion and the Impact of Zebra and Quagga Mussels on Bare Steel Pipelines || October 31, 2017

Portions of the steel oil pipelines in the Mackinac Straits may have lost half their wall thickness since installation in 1953 and become dangerously weakened due to hard-to-detect pitting corrosion, an engineering expert said today.

The independent analysis further strengthens the case for an immediate shutdown of Line.. Read more »


1% for the Great Lakes || October 26, 2017

It’s called 1% for the Great Lakes, but it grows out of 100% enthusiasm for these majestic waters on the part of Timothy and Kathy Young, Founders of Esch Road Foods.

When Food For Thought launched Esch Road Foods, it was named after the founders’ favorite beach in the Sleeping.. Read more »


FLOW to Michigan Officials: Sideline the Study and Stop the Oil || August 4, 2017

FLOW today submitted formal public comments on the State of Michigan’s 337-page “Alternative Analysis for the Straits Pipeline,” calling on state officials to scrap the fatally flawed study and stop Line 5’s oil because of Enbridge’s repeated violations of the 1953 easement allowing the pipelines to occupy the.. Read more »


Enbridge's Neglect of 64-Year-Old "Line 5" Pipelines in Mackinac Straits Requires State to Apply Law, Stop Oil, Reject Permit || July 25, 2017

The state of Michigan must immediately apply the law, stop Line 5’s oil flow, and reject a Canadian company’s application to extract more life out of its decaying steel pipelines built in 1953, according to FLOW, a Traverse City-based Great Lakes water law and policy center in public comments.. Read more »


Analysis of Alternatives to 64-Year-Old "Line 5" Pipelines Riddled with Bad Assumptions, Miscalculations || July 24, 2017

A draft report for the State by Dynamic Risk Inc. of alternatives to Enbridge’s risky twin oil pipelines crossing the lakebed at the Straits of Mackinac is so deeply flawed, according to FLOW, a Traverse City-based Great Lakes water law and policy center, that the State cannot credibly rely.. Read more »


Enbridge's Neglect of 64-Year-Old "Line 5" Pipelines Risks Mackinac Straits, Requires State to Stop Oil and Hold Hearings || June 30, 2017

After the revelation earlier this month that Enbridge for years routinely violated a legal agreement to properly anchor its dual pipelines against the swift currents in the Mackinac Straits, the state of Michigan now must apply the law, stop Line 5’s oil flow, and hold public hearings as it considers .. Read more »


FLOW Urges State Rejection of Nestlé Corporation's Bid to Increase Water Extraction || April 21, 2017

Nestlé Corporation’s bid to massively accelerate its drawdown of groundwater in Osceola County for sale as bottled water falls far short of the bar set by Michigan water law, and must be denied, FLOW said today.

In official independent scientific and legal comments as the state today closes its public .. Read more »


FLOW Urges State Denial of Nestlé Corporation’s Water Grab || April 12, 2017

Based on law and science, the State of Michigan should reject a proposal by Nestlé Corporation to dramatically increase its pumping of hundreds of millions of gallons of groundwater a year in Osceola County, northeast of Big Rapids near Evart, for sale as bottled water under its Ice Mountain brand.. Read more »


Morsels Partners with FLOW in Continuation of Monthly Community Giving Partnership || April 4, 2017

For the month of April 2017, Morsels Espresso + Edibles, a specialty bakery, featuring unique, bite-sized baked goods, will be partnering with FLOW (For Love of Water), continuing an effort to support the Traverse City community through unique, partnering arrangements. Morsels
has created a custom morsel (their bite-sized bakery.. Read more »


Great Lakes Policy Expert, Environmental Historian Joins FLOW || April 3, 2017

Great Lakes water law and environmental policy non-profit, For Love Of Water (FLOW), has hired Great Lakes policy expert and environmental historian, Dave Dempsey, as Senior Advisor.

For the past six years, Dempsey has served as Policy Advisor to the International Joint Commission (IJC). The IJC was established in.. Read more »


Citizens Respond to Attorney General Schuette: Get Off the Sidelines on Line 5 and Protect the Great Lakes || March 28, 2017

Responding today to a letter from Attorney General Bill Schuette, citizens groups from across the state told state officials that their decision to “stand on the sidelines” by failing to enforce legal requirements on pipeline operator Enbridge Energy Partners is putting the Great Lakes at risk from a catastrophic oil.. Read more »


State of Michigan Takes a "Holiday" from Preventing Line 5 Oil Spill Disaster in Great Lakes || March 9, 2017

The Snyder administration, in two letters (here and here) released Wednesday, indicated it will seek more information, but take no enforcement action, while continuing to accept Enbridge’s assurances that all is well with dual oil pipelines in the Mackinac Straits that the Canadian company itself has indicated are missing portions.. Read more »


In Wake of New Pipeline Concerns, Groups Call On Snyder, Schuette to Begin Shutting Down Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac || February 21, 2017

Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette must require Enbridge to shut off the flow of oil through Line 5 pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac following disclosures that the Canadian oil transport company’s pipeline has lost its protective coating, citizens groups said in a letter to the governor.. Read more »


Congressman Dan Kildee Introduces Legislation to Protect the Great Lakes, Michigan's Sport Fishing Industry || February 13, 2017

Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), flanked by sports fishermen and conservationists at Red Fox Outfitters in Fenton, today announced that he has introduced new legislation in Congress to ban harmful aquaculture practices in both the Great Lakes and federally designated “Wild and Scenic Rivers,” which includes the Au Sable.. Read more »


FLOW Releases New Fact Sheets Regarding Line 5 || February 7, 2017

Just one to two propane rail cars or a few tanker trucks a day could replace the Line 5 pipeline’s Upper Peninsula propane capacity without risking energy security in the U.P. or a catastrophic Great Lakes oil spill, according to experts for FLOW, a water law and policy center.. Read more »


Human Rights to Water and Sanitation Toolkit || December 13, 2016

The Blue Planet Project, FLOW (For Love of Water), the Canadian Union of Pubic Employees, KruHa Indonesia, la Red Vida and the National Coalition on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation are pleased to launch the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation toolkit in advance of International Human Rights.. Read more »


Michigan's Growing Threat: Fish Farming in the Great Lakes & Tributaries || November 19, 2016

Michigan sits at the center of a debate over whether to open its Great Lakes waters to commercial aquaculture or fish farming. The practice involves packing thousands of fish into near-shore cages or mesh net-pens that rise above the surface, are anchored to the bottom, and accessed via .. Read more »


State Must Stop Oil Flow, Hold Public Hearings on the "Line 5" Oil Pipelines in the Mackinac Straits || August 25, 2016

Under Michigan law, the state must stop Line 5’s oil flow and hold public hearings on the steel pipelines lying underwater in the Mackinac Straits as it considers Enbridge Energy’s application to remedy easement violations and shore up its aging underwater infrastructure, according to FLOW (For Love of Water), a .. Read more »


State Has Ignored Enbridge's Line 5 Straits Pipeline Violations || August 4, 2016

Although Attorney General Bill Schuette and top state environmental agency directors yesterday notified Enbridge of violations of its agreement to operate oil pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac, officials only did so several months after being told by experts that powerful currents had washed away critical pipeline support infrastructure.

Schuette.. Read more »


Today's Approval of the Waukesha Diversion Application || June 21, 2016

For better or worse, the Compact governors’ decision approving Waukesha’s diversion is done. There were a number of loose provisions that pointed to a bad precedent where a community’s water system doesn’t even straddle the Basin divide. It will all depend on the details, the amendments and conditions made part.. Read more »


Public Comments to MI DNR, DEQ, and DARD on Aquaculture in the Great Lakes and Tributaries of Michigan || May 8, 2016

Aquaculture –often in the form of networks of enclosed pens that exclusively occupy a large area of surface water and underlying bottomlands—raises substantial legal, environmental, aquatic resource, and water use impact issues. Specifically, the use of public waters and bottomlands for the occupancy and operation of concentrated fish production raises.. Read more »


Enbridge Operating Line 5 Illegally || April 13, 2016

Citing new research and documentation revealing cracks, dents, corrosion, and structural defects in the twin oil pipelines in the Mackinac Straits, 22 environmental and tribal groups today formally requested that Gov. Snyder and Attorney General Schuette shut down “Line 5” oil in the Straits based on Enbridge’s multiple easement violations.. Read more »


FLOW Submits Comments on the Waukesha Diversion Application || March 1, 2016

Failing to meet strict standards or demonstrate a public need, a Wisconsin city’s precedent-setting request to divert as much as 16 million gallons a day of Lake Michigan water outside the basin that drains back into the Great Lakes should be rejected by the Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and.. Read more »


FLOW Submits Testimony in Support of Ban on Commercial Aquaculture in Great Lakes || February 12, 2016

On February 1, 2016, FLOW submitted written testimony to members of the House Natural Resources Committee in support of HB 5255’s ban on commercial cage (or net-pen) aquaculture in the Great Lakes. Read the full testimony here. Read more »


State Advisory Board Must Recognize Urgency, Consider Line 5 Oil Pipeline's Impact to Inland Waterways and Climate Change || February 12, 2016

Great Lakes law and policy center FLOW submitted additional comments today to the Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board in response to its requests for information and proposals to conduct alternatives and risk analyses for the Line 5 oil pipelines in the Mackinac Straits. The group expressed deep concern about the..  Read more »


U.S.-Canadian Boundary Water Governing Board Recommends Game-Changing Public Trust Framework to Safeguard Great Lakes || January 21, 2016

The International Joint Commission issued a much anticipated report today on the success of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Sustainable Water Resources Agreementand Compact ban on diversions and excessive consumptive water practices. While the IJC gave the Compact and efforts by states and provinces a positive grade, it also..  Read more »


Straits Oil Pipelines Not Needed to Meet Michigan, Midwest Demand; Report Challenges Enbridge's Goal to Build Midwest Version of Rejected 'Keystone XL' Pipeline || December 13, 2015

Decommissioning the twin pipelines in the Mackinac Straits to prevent a catastrophic oil spill would not disrupt Michigan’s or the Midwest’s crude oil and propane supply, contrary to assertions by the pipelines’ owner, according to a Great Lakes law and policy group that released a set of expert reports today..  Read more »


Great Lakes Lawyers & Scientists Urge Gov. Snyder & AG Schuette: Imminent Hazard Requires Immediate Actions to Eliminate Oil Risk in Straits of Mackinac || September 21, 2015

Filling a void left by the state, a Great Lakes law and policy group and its scientific advisors released a report today calling on the Snyder administration to take interim steps – including the immediate temporary halt of oil flowing through two aging pipelines in the Mackinac Straits – and..  Read more »


FLOW Responds to Task Force Report || July 14, 2015

This morning Attorney General Bill Schuette and DEQ Director Dan Wyant released the long-awaited Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force report, outlining specific recommendations to address the significant risks surrounding a Canadian pipeline company’s controversial twin pipelines (known as “Line 5” or the Straits Pipelines). The Task Force report establishes..  Read more »


Cannon Township Enacts Ordinances to Regulate Ancillary Oil and Gas Activities || January 15, 2015

As part of FLOW’s Model Local Ordinance Program, Monday, Cannon Township enacted three new ordinances to regulate ancillary oil and gas activities. Congratulations and well wishes to everyone in Cannon as they move forward in their process to protect their community and give voice to the concerns of their citizenry..  Read more »


Oil & Water Presents to Petroleum Task Force || December 16, 2014

In formal remarks today to a state task force on oil pipelines, representatives of key environmental and Great Lakes groups – echoing the concerns of businesses, governments, and thousands of citizens – called on Governor Snyder to take swift and meaningful action to protect the Great Lakes from a catastrophic..  Read more »


Pressure Mounts for Gov. Snyder to Act as Coast Guard Admits it is Unprepared for Heavy Oil Spill || September 15, 2014

Citizens groups today called on Gov. Rick Snyder to take immediate steps toward protecting Michigan from oil pipelines running through the Straits of Mackinac, in the wake of revelations that the United States Coast Guard cannot effectively respond to a major heavy oil spill in the Great Lakes.

“The governor..  Read more »


FLOW Urges the Department of Environmental Quality to Strengthen Its Proposed 2014 Fracking Regulations to Protect Michigan's Water, Air, and Land Resources || August 1, 2014

On July 31, 2014, FLOW submitted extensive public comments to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regarding their proposed fracking regulations on water withdrawals, baseline water quality sampling, monitoring and reporting, and chemical disclosure. FLOW’s comments urge the DEQ to take a number of steps to strengthen the oil and..  Read more »


Environmental Groups Demand Governor and State Take Immediate Action to Protect the Great Lakes from Hazardous Enbridge Mackinac Straits Oil Pipeline || July 2, 2014

17 Conservation, water and environmental groups and the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians today sent a letter to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder urging greater state action to regulate Enbridge Pipeline No. 5. The 61 year-old pipeline transports nearly 23 million gallons of crude oil and other petroleum..  Read more »


World Renowned Water Activist, Maude Barlow, to Speak on Regional Water Issues in Detroit || May 14, 2014

On Thursday, May 22 at 6:30 p.m. the People’s Water Board Coalition will partner with Wayne State University’s Office of Sustainability to host a special discussion on regional Great Lakes water issues and public trust with Maude Barlow.

Barlow is the national chairperson of the Council of Canadians and..  Read more »


FLOW Awarded NMEAC John Nelson Water Steward Award || May 2, 2014

On April 25, 2014, Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) honored FLOW with the John Nelson Water Steward Award at their Annual Environmentalist of the Year Celebration. This award recognizes organizations for their water stewardship efforts. Its namesake, John Nelson, is the Grand Traverse Baykeeper, whose extraordinary leadership protects the..  Read more »


Longtime FLOW Volunteer Eric Olson Steps Down as Communications Director || May 1, 2014

Presiding selflessly as an unpaid volunteer Executive Director from 2009 to 2012 and then as Communications and Education Director from 2012 to April 2014, Eric Olson has stepped down from his staff role and now maintains his position as Vice Chair and interim Secretary of the Board of Directors.

Eric..  Read more »


Public Trust Doctrine Policy Framework Encouraged in Final LEEP Report || February 27, 2014

FLOW lauds the International Joint Commission (IJC) for including public trust standards into its recommendations for solving Lake Erie’s harmful algal blooms in its 2014 final Lake Erie Ecosystem Priority (LEEP) report. FLOW’s comments to the IJC on its draft LEEP report (2013) urged state governments to apply public trust..  Read more »


Jim Olson Pens Seminal Article on Public Trust in the Great Lakes || February 24, 2014

FLOW Founder and veteran water attorney Jim Olson has recently published his latest article about the public trust in the Great Lakes. The seminal article “All Aboard: Navigating the Course for Universal Adoption of the Public Trust” appears in the Spring 2014 edition of the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law..  Read more »


Beand4Blue Coffee Now in Three Blends at Stores Statewide || February 11, 2014

A new series of three coffee blends aims to caffeinate and conserve water for Great Lakes lovers. The Beans 4 Blue coffee line from Traverse City-based Great Northern Roasting Company (GNRC) has three blends: the original Lake Effect blend, the Wake 5 dark roast, and the Shoreline light roast..  Read more »


FLOW Local Ordinance Program Addresses Fracking Impacts in Conway Township, MI || February 10, 2014

In February of 2014, Conway Township signed up as the third township to participate in FLOW’s Local Ordinance program that helps the township develop regulatory ordinances to address potential risks and impacts of high volume hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for oil and gas. On February 6th, FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood..  Read more »


FLOW Selected as Great Lakes Information Network (GLIN) Site of the Month || February 5, 2014

The Great Lakes Commission-based Great Lakes Information Network (GLIN) has named FLOW their Site of the Month for February. As a GLIN partner, FLOW is honored to contribute to their outstanding resource network.

GLIN is a partnership that provides one place online for people to find information relating to..  Read more »


FLOW Staff to Issue Public Statement at Army Corps of Engineers Public Comment Forums on the Great Lakes Mississippi River Interbasin Study || January 23, 2014

The United States Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) public comment forums on the Great Lakes Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) report makes the fifth of nine stops in Traverse City, MI on Thursday, January 23, 2014. FLOW, a Traverse-City based nonprofit water policy and education center, has prepared written..  Read more »


FLOW Marks First Two Protective Ordinance Packages || November 15, 2013

In late November, FLOW—the Great Lakes Basin’s only public trust policy and education center—will roll out two Protective Ordinance Packages for two separate townships in Michigan. The Protective Ordinance Packages are designed to protect the townships’ water, land, and air resources from impacts of the high volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF)..  Read more »


Annual Celebration of the Great Lakes Society || August 17, 2013

FLOW (“For Love Of Water”), the Great Lakes Basin’s only public trust policy and education center, is hosting its first Great Lakes Society Annual Celebration at The Workshop Brewing Company in Traverse City, MI from 12-3pm, on Saturday, August 17, 2013. FLOW welcomes community members and guests of all..  Read more »


Signs Now Traverse City 2013 Recycling Program Recipient: FLOW || August 9, 2013

Andrew and Amy Kohlmann, owners of Signs Now Traverse City, recently selected FLOW (For Love of Water) as the recipient of their 2013 recycling program proceeds. The team at Signs Now Traverse City, located at 1702 Barlow St., recycles returned signage materials throughout the year and will donate a percentage..  Read more »


FLOW Featured on UpNorth TV's Volunteer Northwest Michigan Program in July || June 27, 2013

FLOW, the Great Lakes Basin’s only public trust policy and education center, will be featured on UpNorth TV, channel 2, throughout the month of July, every Sunday and Wednesday evening from 8pm-9pm, and every Friday morning from 9am-10am. Hosted by United Way of Northwest Michigan, the Volunteer Northwest..  Read more »


UPDATE: Township Fracking Regulation Ordinance Program || June 14, 2013

FLOW, the Great Lakes Basin’s only public trust policy and education center, will be traveling down state to both Cannon Township and Gun Plain Charter Township on June 19 to facilitate a three-part workshop on legal strategies to address the impacts of horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” FLOW..  Read more »


Fracking Suspected Cause of Residential Water Well Failure in Kalkaska County || June 13, 2013

Last week, fracking operations at the Westerman 1-29 HD1 continued, despite ongoing issues with the water supply on the pad. The additional water wells installed on and off the well pad failed to yield sufficient volumes to complete the well and Encana continued to obtain water from the Kalkaska..  Read more »


Fracking Creating Major Water Consumption Issues Near Kalkaska || June 5, 2013

Concerns about the impact to local groundwater by massive water use- on a scale never before seen in Michigan fracking operations- are coming to a head, as Encana Oil and Gas’s plan to use 8.4 million gallons of water to fracture a single well has been stymied by a..  Read more »


Thousands Demand Lone Pine Drop Its NAFTA Lawsuit Against Québec's Fracking Moratorium || May 31, 2013

Two weeks after the launch of a public petition, organizers have received over 3,000 signatures demanding that energy company Lone Pine Resources drop its $250 million NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement) lawsuit against Canada for Québec’s moratorium on fracking.

The petition sponsors—the Council of Canadians, the Réseau québécois..  Read more »


FLOW Local Ordinance Program Brings Fracking Protection to Two Michigan Townships || May 23, 2013

Two Michigan Townships—Cannon Township and Gun Plain Charter Township—signed up with FLOW to develop regulatory ordinances on horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” FLOW is the Great Lakes Basin’s only public trust policy and education center. These townships, in Kent County and Allegan County respectively, are taking the lead in..  Read more »


FLOW Staff to Issue Public Statement at Governor's Energy Forum in Traverse City || April 18, 2013

Governor Rick Snyder’s “Readying Michigan to Make Good Energy Decisions” Public Forum tour makes its seventh and final stop in Traverse City on Monday April 22, 2013. FLOW, a Traverse City-based nonprofit water policy and education center, has prepared written comments and will made public statements during next week’s..  Read more »


Fracktivism || November 12, 2012

On Monday, FLOW Chair, Jim Olson spoke to a group of 150 people in Allegan, Michigan about specific legal strategies to empower local communities and townships to proactively address the unprecedented impacts of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, on land use, water, and other natural resources. FLOW, Food &..  Read more »


Addressing Record Low Water Levels in the Great Lakes || October 24, 2012

For Love of Water (FLOW) submitted comments to the International Joint Commission (IJC) to demonstrate how public trust principles can be applied to complement and aid this international governing body in making current and future decisions and orders affecting the flows, levels, environment, and public and private uses and benefits..  Read more »


DNR Auction Release || September 12, 2012

On October 24, 2012 Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will hold a public auction offering approximately 196,000 acres of state-owned oil and gas lease rights across 22 Michigan counties. Some acreage includes ecologically sensitive and specially designated areas, including state parks, game, wildlife, and recreational areas. In..  Read more »


The Start of a Resolution || August 1, 2012

Andy Knott and John Nelson had something to celebrate. It was 2012 and the Waterkeeper Alliance, a global organization of water advocates founded in 1999 by environmental attorney and activists, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., had just adopted a resolution at their annual conference in Portland, Oregon, that expressed support for..  Read more »


Proposed Ohio Lake Erie Water Bill Takes Bloom Off Spring || May 21, 2012

The Ohio Senate may take up a bill to regulate water law this week that could drain the brilliant blue off the color of Lake Erie. The bill, known as H.B. 473, with some variations in the senate, may fall far short of what most citizens and businesses in..  Read more »