Tag: groundwater

2022 Year in Review: FLOW Makes Advances along the Waterfront

Above: A burst of sunshine and Lake Michigan’s power at the shore in Frankfort, Michigan. (Photo/Kelly Thayer)


Michigan’s water bounty is vast—touching four of the five Great Lakes, more than 10,000 inland lakes, 36,000 river miles, 6 million acres of wetlands, and groundwater that is the drinking water source for more than 4 million Michiganders.

At FLOW, we envision a future where healthy waters sustain healthy communities in the Great Lakes Basin, and together with our supporters and partners, we are bringing that vision to life.

Such an abundant heritage requires protection from a host of threats, and creative thinking about opportunities to keep water public and protected. These, in turn, require vision. At FLOW, we envision a future where healthy waters sustain healthy communities in the Great Lakes Basin, and together with our supporters and partners in 2022, we are bringing that vision to life.

The clear waters of Great Sand Bay on Lake Superior north of Eagle River, Michigan, on the Keweenaw Peninsula. (Photo/Kelly Thayer)

The view Michiganders enjoy of expansive, seemingly infinite Great Lakes waters is mirrored in our work, which spans all of Michigan’s public waters and includes all beings who depend on them. FLOW protects the Great Lakes—and our public trust rights to access, swim, drink, fish, and navigate these magnificent fresh waters—from threats that include climate change and the Line 5 oil pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac, while strengthening protection of our vital groundwater and securing clean water for all.

FLOW protects the Great Lakes and our public trust rights, while strengthening protection of our vital groundwater and securing clean water for all.

In 2022, FLOW’s sustained efforts to ensure safe, clean, affordable, and public water for all resulted in measurable, immediate achievements, as well as in steps toward long-term goals. Here’s a summary of the impact, as well as hope for an even better 2023 in the fight to protect 20 percent of the planet’s fresh surface water and a way of life for all of us who depend on it for our well being.

Line 5: Preventing a Petroleum Disaster in the Great Lakes

The continued presence of Enbridge’s nearly 70-year-old Line 5 petroleum pipelines crossing in the Straits of Mackinac is a navigational hazard and a clear danger to the Great Lakes, communities, tribes, and businesses. The dented and decaying pipeline is owned and operated by Enbridge, the same Canadian corporation responsible for the 2010 spill of more than 1.2 million gallons of heavy tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River watershed near Marshall, Michigan.

Line 5 shown in red runs from Superior, Wisc., to Sarnia, Ont., as part of Enbridge’s larger pipeline network in yellow running the Alberta, Canada, tar sands to Montreal.

The nearly 70-year-old Line 5 petroleum pipeline crossing in the Straits of Mackinac is a navigational hazard and a clear danger to the Great Lakes, communities, tribes, and businesses.

Acting on the public trust doctrine legal principles articulated by FLOW, Attorney General Nessel filed a lawsuit to shut down LIne 5 in 2019. In 2020, Governor Whitmer revoked and terminated the 1953 easement Enbridge relied upon to operate Line 5, while recognizing that alternatives to Line 5 exist for supplying oil and propane.

The State of Michigan and the public, however, must remain vigilant until the oil stops flowing for good because Enbridge is defying the shutdown order, and Line 5 remains exposed to exceptionally strong currents, lakebed scouring, new anchor and cable strikes, and corrosion. At the same time, Enbridge is seeking permission to locate a tunnel to carry the petroleum under the Straits, posing another set of unacceptable risks.

 In 2022, to shut down Line 5 and stop the ill-advised oil tunnel, FLOW:

  • Spurred Public Engagement & Comment—Spurred, as a founding steering committee member of Oil & Water Don’t Mix, vigorous public engagement and public comment last fall as part of  the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers review of the proposed oil tunnel; and FLOW also prepared final comments submitted to the federal agency on October 14.
  • Helped Reopen the Record on Proposed Tunnel—Helped persuade the Michigan Public Service Commission in July to reopen the record to receive more safety details on the tunnel proposal and Line 5 pipelines.
  • Hosted a Line 5 Livestream—Co-hosted, in partnership with Oil & Water Don’t Mix and the Bay Mills Indian Community, a July livestream event on the status of the Line 5 struggle that drew nearly 600 registrants and reached thousands more people through social media and our e-newsletter.
  • Released a New Fact Sheet—Published a new Line 5 fact sheet.

    Groundwater: Strengthening Protection of Our Sixth Great Lake

    FLOW’s 2022 reportBuilding Consensus: Securing Protection of Michigan’s Groundwater.

    The volume of groundwater in the Great Lakes Basin is comparable to the volume of Lake Huron—in essence, it’s the sixth Great Lake. Groundwater supports industry and agriculture, recharges our streams and the Great Lakes, and provides drinking water to millions of people.

    But because it is out of sight, and therefore often out of mind, groundwater is the least protected arc of that cycle. Limited protections and underinvestment in monitoring have allowed contamination to plague groundwater in tens of thousands of locations in Michigan. Since 2018, FLOW has advanced groundwater as a top priority, bringing new attention and momentum to its stewardship.

    Since 2018, FLOW has advanced groundwater as a top priority, bringing new attention and momentum to its stewardship.

    One of the biggest threats to Michigan’s groundwater is 130,000 failing septic systems. They pollute groundwater with pathogens and household toxic materials, yet Michigan is the only state lacking statewide requirements for inspection, maintenance, and replacement of failing septic systems. FLOW and our partners are striving to remedy that unacceptable fact. 

    In 2022, to protect groundwater, FLOW helped lead the way with these actions:

    • Helped Pass a Countywide Septic Ordinance—Helped in August to persuade the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners, in northwest Michigan, to enact a countywide ordinance preventing and defending against septic system pollution of groundwater.
    • Published a New Groundwater Report—Released in June, as the culmination of 15 months of work, our report, Building Consensus: Securing Protection of Michigan’s Groundwater, and accompanying story map. The report expresses the consensus of multiple stakeholders critical to the state policy process that the state must do more to gather and analyze data fostering an understanding of the condition of groundwater. Key recommendations from the report have helped to form FLOW’s 2023 groundwater policy agenda.

      FLOW’s immersive Groundwater story map.

    • Hosted a Groundwater Livestream—Hosted a livestream in March featuring FLOW staff and five partners, including State Rep. Padma Kuppa and experts on groundwater from academia, the scientific community, and the state. In all, 180 people registered for the event, which offered perspectives on the critical importance of our groundwater resources and the work of the Michigan Groundwater Table convened by FLOW.
    • Collaborated on a World Water Day Resolution—Worked with Rep. Kuppa on a World Water Day resolution that was adopted by Michigan’s State House of Representatives.
    • Guided Water Infrastructure Funding—Engaged last spring with national, regional, state, and local partners, to determine the most impactful policy interventions to ensure the equitable distribution of state and federal funds for water infrastructure, including a $35 million appropriation to help address failing septic systems.

    Clean Water for All: Keeping Water Public and Protected

    Access to clean water for all is a human right and even more vital during emergencies including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate crisis, household water shutoffs in Detroit and elsewhere, and the Flint lead-tainted water crisis. The cost of inaction and the failure to fund public water infrastructure continues to result in water insecurity, flooding, pollution, and costly patchwork repair.

    Access to clean water for all is a human right and even more vital during emergencies including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate crisis, household water shutoffs in Detroit and elsewhere, and the Flint lead-tainted water crisis.

    In 2022, to ensure equitable funding for public water systems and to prioritize water access and affordability, FLOW:

    • Helped Advance Public Water, Public Justice in New York—Worked with New York State lawmakers in support of the newly introduced  Public Water Justice Act, based on FLOW’s groundbreaking 2018 model legislation to extend public trust protection to groundwater, establish a royalty and public justice trust fund from bottled water companies, and pay for water infrastructure priorities.
    • Supported Equity in Water Infrastructure Funding—Engaged statewide with Michigan lawmakers and the Whitmer administration on legislative and other proposals to equitably distribute an historic, short-term increase in federal funds for water infrastructure.
    • Participated in an Environmental Justice Livestream—Presented at an Environmental Justice livestream event hosted by the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative in March.
    • Celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act—Published original insights and perspectives throughout the year about keeping water protected and in public hands, including a series of articles in October on the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act and its importance, and asked in November, What Do the Election Results Mean for the Great Lakes State?
    • Hosted a Livestream with Maude Barlow—Hosted a livestream event in June with lifelong and world-renowned champion of water, Maude Barlow, who has written a memoir built on her career of activism. Its title, appropriately, is Still Hopeful: Lessons from a Lifetime of Activism. In the book, Barlow vividly details her work on many issues, perhaps most importantly her successful advocacy of water as a human right.

    In March, FLOW supported the introduction of three related public trust bills on groundwater, bottled water, and natural resources. 

    • Supported Public Trust Bills in Michigan—Supported in March the introduction of three related public trust bills to expand public trust protections to groundwater, end the bottled water loophole of the Great Lakes Compact in Michigan, and direct the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to be strong public trustee stewards. 
    • Collaborated on a Public Trust Resolution—Worked with state lawmakers to declare water as a public trust in a World Water Day resolution.  
    • Upheld the Human Right to Water & Sanitation—Continued our efforts to build upon the successful passage of the Human Right to Water and Sanitation Resolution in Traverse City. Promoted statewide and regional engagement on this resolution work with We the People, Michigan Municipal League (MML), Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.
    • Drafted a Model Ordinance on Green Infrastructure—Drafted a model green infrastructure ordinance that would require municipalities to evaluate the economic and environmental effectiveness of green infrastructure alternatives—assisted by MML, SEMCOG, and City of Grand Rapids.
    • Advanced Green Infrastructure in Communities—Continued to work with Traverse City and Marquette on advancing green infrastructure as part of their new master plans to benefit the environment and save taxpayer dollars.

    FLOW’s Commitment: Lifting Up Young Leaders on Water Protection

    FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood

    Too often we hear that members of Generation Z, those born between 1997-2012, mistrust government, worry about the future of democracies, and feel overwhelmed by the weighty burden of climate change they are inheriting. But from the depths rise the leaders of tomorrow—our beacon of hope.

    “Protecting our precious waters is a multigenerational mission,” said FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood.

    “Protecting our precious waters is a multigenerational mission,” said FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood. “We put that mission into practice not only by pursuing solutions to water problems that will pay off for generations to come, but also by engaging young people who will carry forward the work as part of a rising generation.”

    In 2022, to lift up the youth water movement, FLOW was proud to engage with:

    Lucy Jones enjoys a Lake Michigan sunset.

    • Water&—Bebe Schaefer and Rachel Roberts, two students at American University in Washington, D.C., recently launched the nonprofit organization Water&, on a “constant journey of collective action.” We at FLOW were thrilled to join hands with Water& and other young adult-led organizations in the Great Lakes Basin, and in our nation’s capital, to expand hope and leadership in the protection of our public waters.
    • Mackenzie Joseph—Our highly productive summer 2022 Milliken Intern for Communications was Mackenzie Joseph, a native of Johnstown, Ohio, and rising senior at Ohio University in Athens, who is majoring in Communication Studies with minors in History, English, Writing, and Political Communication. 
    • Mary Basso and Irene Namae—Our ambitious and talented summer 2022 Milliken Interns for Law and Policy were Mary Basso and Irene Namae. Irene was born in Uganda; after finishing a Bachelor of Law there from Makerere University, she served as a magistrate judge. She currently is pursuing her PhD in law at the University of Arizona, focusing on Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy.  Mary Basso is from Owosso, Michigan. After finishing a bachelor’s degree, Mary moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to study law at Vanderbilt University Law School.
    • Lucy Jones—When FLOW first wrote about Lucy Jones—the inspiring Traverse City teen who creates and sells jewelry to benefit the Great Lakes—last February, our supporters were moved by her environmental ethic and enterprising spirit. So we thought it was fitting to catch up with Lucy at year’s end with her holiday sales in full swing. FLOW thrives on these creative collaborations with teens and young adults—the Next Generation—who take action and lead the way to protect fresh water.

    Looking to 2023: Abundant Opportunity to Protect Fresh Water for All

    Now comes the next phase of the work that we all must do together: Hold our elected officials accountable to ensure the waters of the Great Lakes Basin are healthy, public, and protected for all. As the Great Lakes State, Michigan must lead on every imaginable freshwater policy to protect this fragile, water-rich ecosystem and to secure safe, affordable drinking water for all.

    “Big, bold ideas for a vibrant future vision are necessary to generate public engagement and support. So if there ever was a moment, this would be it,” said FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood.

    “Michigan must seize this window of opportunity to think about systemic changes needed and make the greatest gains we can to protect fresh water, the environment, Pure Michigan economy, and our way of life in the face of impacts from unrelenting climate change and a water-scarce world,” said Kirkwood. “Big, bold ideas for a vibrant future vision are necessary to generate public engagement and support. So if there ever was a moment, this would be it.”


    P.S.—Your Inside Look at FLOW with Liz Kirkwood Starts Now. Take an exclusive look behind the scenes at FLOW’s work, made possible by our generous supporters:


     

    Dave Dempsey Reflects on Lessons Learned after 40 Years of Environmental Advocacy

    Above: Appreciating the water cycle and all the many forms it takes, including snowflakes and rainbows over Lake Michigan. (Photo/Kelly Thayer)


    By Dave Dempsey

    Last month marked the end of my 40th year of environmental advocacy. Looking ahead to 2022 in 1982, I may have thought humans would have colonized the moon by now—or better yet, humans would have become such good stewards of the Earth that professional environmental advocates would be out of jobs.

    Dave Dempsey, FLOW Senior Advisor

    I never thought my career would span four decades, but now that it has, looking back—as well as forward—seems fitting. My lens has smudges and blind spots, so consider that as you read. Here are a few lessons of 40 years.

    We need laws that consider the whole—and require reduction in pollution in air, water, and land from a single source. Or better yet, laws that prevent pollution in the first place. 

    Lessons Learned

    As long as we regard the environment in pieces, we will not achieve a healthy and lush Earth. Perhaps in 1970 it made political sense to treat air, water, and land as separate spheres.  But even then we knew—and it is ever clearer now—that we live in a world where all of these are connected. Laws that clean up industrial processes by sending hazardous wastes to landfills or incinerators merely transfer a problem to another medium. Said John Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club, “when we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”

    We need laws that consider the whole—and require reduction in pollution in air, water, and land from a single source. Or better yet, laws that prevent pollution in the first place. 

    Our understanding of economic growth is childish, and clinging to it will delay or prevent the environmental recovery we must have. I’ve heard the tiresome refrain from business lobbyists since the day I began working at the Michigan Environmental Council in November 1982: “You can’t have a healthy economy and a healthy environment at the same time.” There was hope that this false dichotomy would change after the release of a United Nations report in 1987 that spoke for the first time of sustainable development: development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

    We can no longer operate on the premise that constantly increasing Gross Domestic Product, in a world of exhaustible resources, is the goal of public policy and personal conduct.

    But ask anyone on the street what “sustainable development” means, and you will mostly be met by puzzled faces. We can no longer operate on the premise that constantly increasing Gross Domestic Product, in a world of exhaustible resources, is the goal of public policy and personal conduct.

    The people lead, and the leaders follow. It’s been said a multitude of times by a multitude of people—if you wait around for presidents, Congress, governors, state legislatures, or your local board of trustees to take the lead on environmental protection, your hair will turn gray before you get action. The Clean Air Act in 1970 and the Clean Water Act in 1972 did not happen because of enlightened, futuristic politicians—instead, those politicians were responding to public outrage about waters that were unsafe for swimming and air that was unsafe to breathe.

    The business of making laws is not pretty, but it is always better when citizens are driving it and monitoring it.

    The business of making laws is not pretty, but it is always better when citizens are driving it and monitoring it.

    Future Generations

    What about the future? Where should Michigan go now in light of these lessons?

    Bold transformative changes are necessary to meet the interconnected challenges of water stewardship and climate change.

    First, now is not the time for half measures or tweaking. Michigan has a rare opportunity in 2023 to show national leadership on the environment. That has not been true since the early 1980s, the last time that Democrats in Michigan—who often favor more environmental protections than state Republicans do—held the governor’s office and both chambers in the state legislature. We cannot keep tinkering with the old laws and making minor changes. Bold transformative changes are necessary to meet the interconnected challenges of water stewardship and climate change.

    It is just plain wrong that Michigan has 25,000 groundwater contamination sites, rivers and streams don’t meet health and/or water quality standards, and scores of communities whose sewage or drinking water treatment systems are old and underfunded.

    Second, clean water must get more than lip service. The public wants clean water, and the state’s residents must communicate that to Governor Whitmer and the legislature. These elected officials, in turn, have the responsibility to enact measures that provide the billions of dollars in state and federal funding needed to make the promise of Pure Michigan real. It is just plain wrong that Michigan has 25,000 groundwater contamination sites, hundreds of places where rivers and streams don’t meet health and/or water quality standards, and scores of communities whose sewage or drinking water treatment systems are old and underfunded.

    On such issues as climate change, we have a duty to take decisive action to make the world habitable for our descendants.

    Third, Michigan must think more often about its air, water, land and other resources through the lens of 2062 rather than 2022. Elected officials need a vision that goes beyond the next election cycle. This has happened before in Michigan. The forestry pioneers of the late 1800s and early 1900s took the millions of acres of land clearcut and abandoned by the lumber barons and shaped it into a 3.9 million acre state forest system.  None of them lived to see their work come to full fruition. They cared about us. We must do the same for our descendants. On such issues as climate change, we have a duty to take decisive action to make their world habitable.

    Will Michigan do this? I have my doubts. Forty years of cynicism are hard to shrug off. But the people of Michigan have shown leadership before, and we can do it again if we choose to do so. Our children and their children are counting on us.

    What Do the Election Results Mean for the Great Lakes State?

    While the word “water” was not on the November 8 statewide general election ballot in Michigan, it was present on the ballot in various local communities and in different, more subtle ways across the Great Lakes State.

    In some of Michigan’s 276 cities and 1,240 townships, voters considered new regulations to safeguard water resources and taxes for sewer and drinking water system improvements. In northwest Michigan’s Leelanau Township, for instance, 60% of voters approved zoning amendments designed to protect water quality; and Leelanau County is poised by month’s end to implement a county-wide septic code ordinance after the county board’s bipartisan vote in August following years of rancorous debate and unsuccessful attempts at passage.

    In Ann Arbor, a whopping 71% of voters favored a proposal to fund the City’s A2 Zero Action Plan, which aims for a transition to carbon neutrality by 2030 to curb climate change. The funds will come from an up to 1-mill ($1 for every $1,000 in taxable value) increase in city property taxes over the next 20 years, which will raise an estimated $6,800,000 in the first year levied. Authorized uses include year-round composting; expanded residential/multifamily recycling; community and rooftop solar programs; rental and low-income household energy programs; bicycle, pedestrian and transit infrastructure; neighborhood resource centers; electric vehicle infrastructure; and tree plantings.

    In some of Michigan’s 276 cities and 1,240 townships, voters considered new regulations to safeguard water resources and taxes for sewer and drinking water system improvements.  A whopping 71% of Ann Arbor voters favored a proposal to fund the City’s A2 Zero Action Plan, which aims for a transition to carbon neutrality by 2030 to curb climate change.

    At the county level, decisions made by voters on whom to elect as commissioners in each of Michigan’s 83 counties could affect whether these jurisdictions in the near term take on one of the problems most threatening the state’s waters, an estimated 130,000 failing septic systems. Michigan remains the only state without a statewide law to set minimum standards for inspecting, maintaining, and replacing broken septic systems to protect surface water and groundwater and safeguard public health, so regulation is limited for now to a patchwork of local ordinances.

    Historic Shift in Michigan’s Government

    For the first time since the 1980s, Democrats have won the governor’s office, with the re-election of Gretchen Whitmer, and majorities in both chambers of the Michigan Legislature, albeit by just two seats in each chamber, which Republicans had controlled during Whitmer’s first term. The historic shift, along with the re-election of Dana Nessel as attorney general, promises to have enormous influence on the quality of water and other natural resources of the state.

    enbridges-line-5-under-the-straits-of-mackinac-4f9997139d321d60

    A diver points to a segment of the dual Line 5 oil pipelines operating under in the Straits of Mackinac since 1953.

    As an example, Whitmer and Nessel have been partnering on a legal strategy to shut down Line 5, Enbridge’s risky, antiquated twin petroleum pipelines operating in the Straits of Mackinac, while their Republican opponents had pointedly promised to drop the litigation if elected. And Gov. Whitmer will have the opportunity to speed up progress on her climate action plan, restore polluter-pay cleanup laws weakened under former Republican Gov. John Engler, and protect and restore the Great Lakes. Widespread PFAS contamination, E. coli pollution, and harmful algal blooms also remain key priorities.

    In the 2023-2024 session of the legislature, lawmakers will likely decide whether to enact a statewide law to control failing septic systems and whether to spend a part of several billion dollars in federal aid to maximize Michigan’s historic investments in clean drinking water, wastewater, stormwater, and other water infrastructure projects – including aging dams on Michigan rivers.

    FLOW: It’s Time to Seize the Opportunity to Protect Fresh Water for All

    As the Great Lakes State, Michigan must lead on every imaginable freshwater policy to protect this fragile, water-rich ecosystem and to secure safe, affordable drinking water for all.

    FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood

    “For the first time in almost 40 years, the Whitmer administration and the legislature have an opportunity to profoundly shape water policy in the Great Lake State,” said FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood, reflecting on the recent election results. “A lasting watermark would include securing clean, safe, and affordable water for all and protecting groundwater for the health of our lakes and communities.”

    “For the first time in almost 40 years, the Whitmer administration and the legislature have an opportunity to profoundly shape water policy in the Great Lake State,” said FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood, reflecting on the recent election results. “A lasting watermark would include securing clean, safe, and affordable water for all and protecting groundwater for the health of our lakes and communities.

    Public Water, Public Justice

    Governor Whitmer should play a leading role to close the bottled-water loophole in the Great Lakes Compact that presently allows diversions of water in containers less than 5.7 gallons. To do so, Kirkwood called on the governor and legislature to adopt FLOW’s “Public Water, Public Justice” model legislation that would generally prevent diversions by requiring small container diversions to be aligned with Public Trust principles, licensed by the state, and subject to royalties that would generate state revenue for Michigan’s vast water infrastructure needs.

    “Michigan must seize this window of opportunity to think about systemic changes needed and make the greatest gains we can to protect fresh water, the environment, Pure Michigan economy, and our way of life in the face of impacts from unrelenting climate change and a water-scarce world,” said Kirkwood. “Big, bold ideas for a vibrant future vision are necessary to generate public engagement and support. So if there ever was a moment, this would be it.”

    “Michigan must seize this window of opportunity to think about systemic changes needed and make the greatest gains we can to protect fresh water, the environment, Pure Michigan economy, and our way of life in the face of impacts from unrelenting climate change and a water-scarce world,” said Kirkwood. “Big, bold ideas for a vibrant future vision are necessary to generate public engagement and support. So if there ever was a moment, this would be it.”

    On the Federal Front

    Finally, all 13 of Michigan’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives were contested in the November 8 election, with all incumbents who ran winning re-election, and Republicans gaining a slim majority in the chamber. Democrats retained narrow control of the U.S. Senate, and all Midwest governors on the ballot were re-elected.

    The U.S. House will consider legislation in 2023 to address PFAS, the so-called “forever chemicals,” which have contaminated over 200 sites in Michigan, and renewal of federal funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

    Everywhere you look, water issues colored Michigan election choices and outcome. Now comes the real work that we all must do together: Hold our elected officials accountable to ensure the waters of the Great Lakes Basin are healthy, public, and protected for all.

    Michigan Legislature on Wednesday Will Consider Bill to Control Waste from Septic Systems

    Editor’s note: FLOW supports the consideration of newly introduced legislation to control septic system sewage and looks forward to helping strengthen the bill’s provisions to ensure the strongest possible protections for public health and public waters. Please read the article, and use the links to contact the bill’s co-sponsors using the information below to express your support.


    Wednesday marks an important moment in the decades-long effort to protect Michigan’s public health, wells, and water from pollution caused by failing septic systems. At 10:30 a.m. on Weds., Sept. 28, a state legislative committee will take up a bill requiring inspection of septic systems at the time a property is sold.

    FLOW encourages the public to contact the bill’s co-sponsors—Rep. Yaroch and Rep. Rendon—to express support for their legislation to protect public health and public waters.

    The House Committee on Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation will hear testimony on House Bill 6101, which was introduced by Rep. Jeff Yaroch, R-Macomb County, and Rep. Daire Rendon of Lake City, in Missaukee County. While the committee bill is not expected to vote on the measure Wednesday, the hearing could lay the groundwork for action after the November election, during the lame-duck session, or early in the 2023 legislative session. FLOW encourages the public to contact the bill’s co-sponsors—Rep. Yaroch and Rep. Rendon—to express support for their legislation to protect public health and public waters.

    Michigan is the only state lacking a law to require inspection of septic systems. It is an urgent priority, with an estimated 130,000 failing septic systems in Michigan releasing approximately 9.4 billion gallons of poorly or untreated sewage into the soil and environment each year.

    Michigan is the only state lacking a law to require inspection of septic systems. An estimated 130,000 failing septic systems in Michigan each year release approximately 9.4 billion gallons of poorly or untreated sewage into the soil and environment.

    How Did We Get Here on Septic?

    For two decades, proponents of the legislation have unsuccessfully attempted to secure passage by the legislature of such a law. FLOW and many of our allied organizations support a statewide septic code, working for years to lay the groundwork for passage. FLOW supports the introduction of H.B. 6101 and looks forward to helping strengthen the bill’s provisions to ensure the strongest protections for public health and public waters.

    One of the witnesses scheduled to testify on Wednesday is Dr. Joan Rose, a Michigan State University researcher and microbiologist, who co-authored a study finding human fecal indicator bacteria in every river tested in a 64 river systems that drain approximately 84 percent of the Lower Peninsula. 

    Dr. Joan Rose, a Michigan State University researcher and microbiologist, will testify Wednesday on the septic bill.

    Rose was a key presenter at the Michigan Septic Summit, hosted in November 2019 by FLOW and our partners and allies and attended by over 150 public health experts, scientists, local government representatives, nonprofit organizations, and interested citizens. At the Septic Summit, Dr. Rose spoke about her study’s finding on septic pollution.

    The results were clear, Rose said. “The more septic systems in the watershed, the more human fecal source tracking bacteria in the water. If we want to keep E. coli and other pathogens out of our waterways, we need to address the problem of septic systems that may be failing to adequately treat our wastewater.”

    FLOW continues to educate and empower the public on the need for a statewide septic system policy in order to protect public health, local communities, lakes, and ecosystems—especially groundwater, the source of drinking water for 45% of Michigan’s population.

    Learn More

    To learn more, dive into FLOW’s original articles, videos, and other content on the need to stop septic pollution, including materials published Sept. 19-23 during SepticSmart Week, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency annual educational initiative, at www.ForLoveOfWater.org and on FLOW’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

    SepticSmart: Can Michigan Move from Last to First?

    Editor’s note: During SepticSmart Week, which runs through Friday, FLOW is sharing updates on efforts to protect fresh water and public health from uncontrolled septic system waste, as part of an annual educational campaign that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched a decade ago, with the State of Michigan, other states, communities, and organizations, including FLOW, as partners and participants. (If you are unsure about what a septic system is or how it works, start here).

    Stay tuned during SepticSmart Week to www.ForLoveOfWater.org and FLOW’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the latest articles, videos, and fact sheets. In case you missed it, here is additional coverage this week from FLOW.


    For a long time, Michigan was regarded as an environmental leader among the states.  We were the first state to ban the pesticide DDT, the first in the Great Lakes region to limit phosphorus pollution to protect sensitive waters like Lake Erie, and the first to create a trust fund from oil and gas revenues to buy public recreational and scenic land.

    But there’s a big gap in Michigan’s body of environmental law.

    We are the only state without a sanitary code that applies to septic systems—despite knowing that pollution from failing septic systems is detected in scores of rivers and lakes across Michigan.

    Click here to learn how a conventional septic system works. (Click image to see larger version).

    The link is clear, said microbiologist Dr. Joan Rose of Michigan State University. She led a study that sampled 64 river systems that drain approximately 84 percent of the Lower Peninsula, looking for E. coli and the human-specific source tracking marker bacteria called B-theta.

    The results were clear, Rose said. “The more septic systems in the watershed, the more human fecal source tracking bacteria in the water. If we want to keep E. coli and other pathogens out of our waterways, we need to address the problem of septic systems that may be failing to adequately treat our wastewater.”

    Closing the gap should be an urgent priority for Michigan policymakers. State law needs to require periodic pumping and inspection of septic systems and replacement of those found to be failing.

    But Michigan shouldn’t be satisfied with a law that does just the basics. We should add money to a new state low-interest loan program assisting homeowners with the cost of replacing those failing systems. And we should bump up public education so that more Michigan residents know about the problem and solutions.

    If we’re going to be an environmental leader again, we can no longer refrain from sanitary code legislation.


    Learn More about Why Michigan Must Move from Last to First on Control of Septic Waste

    Here is today’s SepticSmart guidance from NatureChange, FLOW, and partners: 

    Michigan’s Lack of Septic Maintenance Requirements Threatens Public Health (One-minute trailer)

    Flushing the Future-The Challenge of Failing Septic Systems (16-minute video)

     

    Get SepticSmart to Stop Pollution, Save Money

    Image courtesy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


    Editor’s note: During SepticSmart Week, which runs through Friday, FLOW is sharing updates on efforts to protect fresh water and public health from uncontrolled septic system waste, as part of an annual educational campaign that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched a decade ago, with the State of Michigan, other states, communities, and organizations, including FLOW, as partners and participants. Stay tuned during SepticSmart Week to www.ForLoveOfWater.org and FLOW’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the latest articles, videos, and fact sheets. In case you missed it, here is additional coverage this week from FLOW: SepticSmart Week: Progress on Protecting Public Health and Fresh Water and SepticSmart: Leelanau County Board Wisely Votes to Protect Fresh Water and Public Health from Septic Pollution.


    Michiganders who rely on septic systems to treat and discharge their sewage don’t need to wait for a state law requiring them to maintain those systems. Their voluntary acts and practices can help prevent further groundwater and surface water pollution from failing and malfunctioning septic systems, and save them money and headaches too.

    Most importantly, owners of homes with septic systems should have tanks pumped and examined at least once every three years. If the inspection yields evidence of a failing system, the tank should be replaced. Replacing failing systems is expensive – but the cost of not doing so includes risking the health of the household if a drinking water well is in the path of the slowly moving waste. It also puts neighbors and recreational users of contaminated streams at risk from fecal bacteria and household chemicals.

    The State of Michigan is launching a $35 million low-interest loan program to assist homeowners in defraying the cost of septic system replacement.

    U.S. EPA–Top 10 Ways to be a Good Septic System Owner (Click for larger version).

    Top 10 Ways to Be a Good Septic Owner

    Other SepticSmart quick tips on protecting your septic system from failure:

    • Have your system inspected every three years by a qualified professional or according to your local health department’s recommendations.
    • Have your septic tank pumped, when necessary, generally every three to five years.
    • Avoid pouring harsh products (e.g., oils, grease, chemicals, paint, medications) down the drain.
    • Make efficient use of water and do not operate several water-intensive appliances at the same time. Doing otherwise can lead to a septic system backup into your house.
    • Keep the surface over a septic system drain field clear. Roots and heavy objects can disrupt the treatment of waste in the septic system.
    • For the full list of Top 10 Ways to Be a Good Septic Owner, click here or on the image.

    Have your septic tank pumped, when necessary, generally every three to five years. Source: U.S. EPA. (Click for larger version).

    If all homeowners with septic systems follow these tips and others, their potential bill for system replacement will be lower, and Michigan’s public waters will be cleaner.

    Scientific studies have found human fecal contamination affecting 100% of our river systems in the Lower Peninsula and that substandard, failing, or nonexistent septic systems are the primary driver of human fecal bacteria found in our rivers and streams.

    FLOW’s action on septic system pollution began with our 2018 groundwater report, The Sixth Great Lake, which emphasized that in addition to releasing an estimated 9.4 billion gallons of poorly or untreated sewage into the soil and environment each year, failing septic systems release household chemicals that residents pour down their drains. Our report called for a uniform statewide sanitary code in Michigan.

    Stay tuned during SepticSmart Week to www.ForLoveOfWater.org and FLOW’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for daily updates. To get you started, here is today’s tip from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reminding all of us to Protect It and Inspect It!

     

    SepticSmart: Leelanau County Board Wisely Votes to Protect Fresh Water and Public Health from Septic Pollution

    Image courtesy of Leelanau.gov.


    Editor’s note: This opinion article by FLOW Legal Advisor Skip Pruss was originally published in the Traverse City Record-Eagle on Sept. 4, 2022. During SepticSmart Week, which runs through Friday, FLOW is sharing updates on efforts to protect fresh water and public health from uncontrolled septic system waste, as part of an annual educational campaign that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched a decade ago, with the State of Michigan, other states, communities, and organizations, including FLOW, as partners and participants. Stay tuned during SepticSmart Week to www.ForLoveOfWater.org and FLOW’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the latest articles, videos, and fact sheets. In case you missed it, here is additional coverage this week from FLOW: SepticSmart Week: Progress on Protecting Public Health and Fresh Water and Get SepticSmart to Stop Pollution, Save Money.


    By Skip Pruss, FLOW Legal Advisor

    In August, the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners voted to task the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department with drafting an ordinance requiring the inspection of septic systems upon the transfer or sale of a home. The bipartisan vote endorsing this ordinance came after years of rancorous debate and unsuccessful attempts at passage.

    Skip Pruss, FLOW Legal Advisor

    The vote was a hopeful sign of progress, demonstrating an understanding that malfunctioning septic systems can affect surface water and groundwater locally and statewide, potentially burdening communities with avoidable harmful economic, health and environmental outcomes.

    Scientific studies have found human fecal contamination affecting 100% of our river systems in the Lower Peninsula and that substandard, failing, or nonexistent septic systems are the primary driver of human fecal bacteria found in our rivers and streams. A study this year found that as many as 27 percent of all septic systems in Michigan households may be failing.

    Scientific studies have found human fecal contamination affecting 100% of our river systems in the Lower Peninsula and that as many as 27 percent of all septic systems in Michigan households may be failing.

    The Great Lakes surrounding Michigan hold 95 percent of all fresh surface water in the United States and 84 percent of all fresh surface water in North America. Leelanau County, a peninsula within a peninsula, has the most freshwater shoreline of any county in the Lower Peninsula.

    Remarkably, Michigan, seated at the very heart of the Great Lakes, is the only state without a state law setting minimum standards for the construction, maintenance and inspection of septic systems. Counties and local governments have had to step up, enacting local ordinances in recognition that a septic system inspection requirement would help identify failing systems, protect groundwater, reduce contaminated wastewater migration to our beautiful lakes and protect property values.

    Remarkably, Michigan, seated at the very heart of the Great Lakes, is the only state without a state law setting minimum standards for the construction, maintenance and inspection of septic systems. Counties and local governments have had to step up, enacting local ordinances.

    The good news is that, despite daily indications of bitter polarization in our politics, our community’s concern for safeguarding our Great Lakes is a deeply shared value, an important area of common ground that bridges the political divide — as affirmed by the vote of the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners. The State of Michigan and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also have proclaimed Sept. 19-23 to be SepticSmart Week and are providing outreach materials encouraging homeowners and communities to inspect and maintain their septic systems.

    For Love of Water (FLOW), the Traverse City-based law and policy center, has focused on the protection of groundwater and its relationship to Great Lakes water quality. FLOW’s recent work includes creating and moderating the Michigan Groundwater Table, an 18-month collaboration among local government organizations, state agencies, environmental and justice organizations and Michigan’s universities to identify key groundwater-protection strategies and make recommendations for their implementation (See related storymap here).

    FLOW continues to focus on the protection of groundwater and its relationship to Great Lakes water quality.

    Among the findings of the Groundwater Table is that septic system performance writ large is, in fact, an infrastructure issue.

    With the influx of state and federal funding targeted at water infrastructure support, this may be a particularly opportune time to revisit statewide solutions, including provisions for low-income assistance to address substandard systems.

    Meanwhile, hats off to the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners for recognizing that protection of this extraordinary, globally unique natural endowment that is our Great Lakes is an environmental, economic and public health imperative.

    About the author: Skip Pruss is a legal adviser with FLOW and formerly directed the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor, and Economic Growth. You can reach him at pruss@5lakesenergy.com.


    Stay tuned during SepticSmart Week to www.ForLoveOfWater.org and FLOW’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for daily updates. To get you started, here is today’s tip from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reminding all of us: Don’t Strain Your Drain! 

    SepticSmart Week: Progress on Protecting Public Health and Fresh Water

    Graphic courtesy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


    Editor’s note: During SepticSmart Week, which runs through Friday, FLOW is sharing updates on efforts to protect fresh water and public health from uncontrolled septic system waste, as part of an annual educational campaign that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched a decade ago, with the State of Michigan, other states, communities, and organizations, including FLOW, as partners and participants. 

    Stay tuned during SepticSmart Week to www.ForLoveOfWater.org and FLOW’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the latest articles, videos, and fact sheets. In case you missed it, here is additional coverage this week from FLOW for:


    U.S. EPA–Top 10 Ways to be a Good Septic System Owner (Click on image for larger version).

    Michigan’s lack of a statewide sanitary code ranks the state dead last in preventing pollution from failing septic systems. With an estimated 130,000 failing or malfunctioning septic systems in the state, the status quo is a threat to public health and Pure Michigan. That’s why FLOW has been taking action with you and key stakeholders during the last few years to educate and empower the public and key stakeholders and pursue solutions.

    This week presents another key opportunity to make a difference. Join FLOW starting today through Friday for SepticSmart Week, an annual educational campaign that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched a decade ago, with the State of Michigan, other states, communities, and organizations, including FLOW, as partners and participants.

    Stay tuned during SepticSmart Week to www.ForLoveOfWater.org and FLOW’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for daily updates.

    State of Michigan’s 2022  Proclamation on SepticSmart Week 2022 (Click on image for larger version).

    Each day this week, FLOW will release SepticSmart Week content, including original articles and videos providing facts, tips, and inspiration to help you be part of the solution to this shared challenge of not only septic system pollution, but also the broader challenge of surface and groundwater contamination in Michigan. (If you are unsure about what a septic system is or how it works, start here).

    Slow, But Perceptible Progress on a Septic Code

    FLOW’s action on septic system pollution began with our 2018 groundwater report, The Sixth Great Lake, which emphasized that in addition to releasing an estimated 9.4 billion gallons of poorly or untreated sewage into the soil and environment each year, failing septic systems release household chemicals that residents pour down their drains. Our report called for a uniform statewide sanitary code in Michigan.

    In November 2019, FLOW and our partners and allies hosted a Michigan Septic Summit, attended by over 150 public health experts, scientists, local government representatives, nonprofit organizations, and interested citizens. We noted that the Summit “underscored a growing resolve in the state to do something meaningful about septic system pollution. Historically, when Michigan’s various interests have come together in good faith to solve an environmental problem, they have succeeded.”

    The Michigan Septic Summit “underscored a growing resolve in the state to do something meaningful about septic system pollution. Historically, when Michigan’s various interests have come together in good faith to solve an environmental problem, they have succeeded.”

    Since then we have continued to educate and empower the public and key stakeholders with the information and impetus to take action on septic system policy in order to protect public health, local communities, lakes, and ecosystems—especially groundwater, the source of drinking water for 45% of Michigan’s population.

    The Michigan Groundwater Table Builds Consensus on Need for Protection

    FLOW in January 2021 created and for a year convened the Michigan Groundwater Table, composed of 22 knowledgeable and influential stakeholders from local government, academia, and regulatory agencies.

    The Groundwater Table’s work culminated with FLOW hosting a livestream event—Groundwater: Making the Invisible Visible on World Water Day & Every Day—last March and then in June with our release of a report, Building Consensus: Securing Protection of Michigan’s Groundwater, and accompanying story map. The report contains consensus findings about the status of Michigan’s groundwater and also recommendations on how to improve its protection. The Groundwater Table agreed it should be a priority to develop a statewide initiative to enable inspection and repair of septic systems, including funding to empower local health agencies to conduct periodic inspections and facilitate compliance and to assist homeowners in replacing failing systems.

    FLOW continues to educate and empower the public on the need for a statewide septic system policy in order to protect public health, local communities, lakes, and ecosystems—especially groundwater, the source of drinking water for 45% of Michigan’s population.

    Progress on statewide septic policy in Michigan has been slow, but it is perceptible and continues. Acting on a recommendation from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and with the backing of FLOW and many other environmental groups, the Michigan Legislature this year approved $35 million in low-interest loans to help homeowners pay for replacing failing septic systems. It’s a down payment on a problem that will require much more investment to fix.

    Contact State Representative Jeff Yaroch, a Republican from Macomb County, to express your support Michigan House Bill 6101, which would create a statewide septic code.

    Additional progress is the tentative scheduling in Lansing of a September 28, 2022, meeting of the Michigan House Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Committee to consider a proposed statewide sanitary code. Although House leadership to date has not signaled an intent to pass the legislation–Michigan House Bill 6101–this year, its introduction and potential consideration is a recognition that the problem is not going away—and that state level action is vital. Contact the bill’s sponsor, State Representative Jeff Yaroch, a Republican from Macomb County, to express your support for a statewide septic code.

    FLOW continues to work with the public and partners—community leaders, scientists, public health experts, academics, environmental advocates, realtors, and state and local lawmakers—to seek solutions to unregulated, polluting septic systems. Public education is vital to solving the longstanding problem. 

    Stay tuned during SepticSmart Week to www.ForLoveOfWater.org and FLOW’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for daily updates. To get you started, here is today’s tip from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reminding all of us to “Think at the Sink!”

     

    Michigan’s Forgotten Resource: The Water Flowing Underground

    Editor’s note: An edited version of the following opinion column originally appeared June 9, 2022, in Bridge Michigan.


    By Dave Dempsey

    Dave Dempsey, FLOW Senior Advisor

    Water flows through a single cycle from air to surface water and groundwater, or from the land to lakes and streams, evaporating and beginning its journey all over again. But environmental law and policy often overlook an entire arc of the cycle, neglecting to include groundwater, and as a result, exposing the public to health risks and exposing ecosystems to degradation.

    This fragmentation of thinking is reflected in a fragmentation of public policy and programs. And in a new report and accompanying groundwater story map just released by FLOW, scientists and representatives of key constituencies call for change to protect our precious water by making groundwater a state priority for protection and conservation.

    The report, Building Consensus: Securing Protection of Michigan’s Groundwater, reflects the work of 22 knowledgeable and influential participants from local government, academia, and regulatory agencies who participated in the Michigan Groundwater Table convened by FLOW. Groundwater Table members met remotely over a year, coming to general agreement on findings regarding the state of Michigan’s groundwater, while discussing potential policy solutions.

    In a series of reports dating back to 2018, FLOW has called attention to the gap between the importance of groundwater to Michigan’s health and welfare and the state’s historical absence of coherent  groundwater policies. Understanding that Michigan residents value stewardship of all water, including groundwater, FLOW in January 2021 launched and convened the Michigan Groundwater Table composed of diverse membership and perspectives.

    In the new report, Groundwater Table members agreed that Michigan’s groundwater is a “critical and often overlooked resource,” vital to the state’s public health, agriculture and other businesses, coldwater fisheries, stream ecology, and wetlands, and can account for 25% of the total water inflow to the Great Lakes via groundwater discharge to tributaries. They also found that Michigan has underinvested in monitoring, mapping, and reporting groundwater quantity and quality.

    Further, Michigan’s groundwater quality has deteriorated over the last century, leading to more than 15,000 contamination sites and thousands of contaminated private wells. Current policies often result in perpetuation of groundwater contamination that forecloses options for use of groundwater by future generations.

    Although consensus was not achieved on all groundwater policy options, several recommendations commanded the support of most Groundwater Table members, including:

    • Private Wells–Providing funding for rural groundwater testing of private wells on residential properties.
    • Statewide Septic Code–Developing a statewide initiative to enable inspections and repair of septic systems, including funding to assist homeowners in replacing failing systems, and to empower local health agencies to conduct periodic inspections and facilitate compliance. An estimated 130,000 private septic systems are failing in Michigan, releasing poorly treated human waste and household chemicals to groundwater, lakes, and streams, yet Michigan is the only state lacking statewide standards for regular inspection, maintenance, and replacement of these systems.
    • Public Education–Advancing groundwater awareness among Michigan residents through innovative visualization and information tools to incorporate conservation and environmental protection into personal and institutional practices.
    • Data Tools–Improving water management decision-making and furthering the understanding and oversight of hydrologic systems through centralized access to comprehensive hydrologic data, analyses, and regional modeling in priority areas; supporting the Michigan Geological Survey by expanding geologic information and data-gathering capabilities; and better integrating existing databases and monitoring capabilities.

    Consistent with the Michigan Groundwater Table’s recommendations, on March 30, Governor Whitmer signed into law an appropriations bill providing $10 million to implement the Michigan Hydrologic Framework and the much-needed integration of the state’s water-related databases.

    The Building Consensus report concludes that Michigan’s groundwater is a critical part of Michigan’s present and future. Increasing water scarcity, a changing climate, and limited public funding for prevention and cleanup of contamination will continue to stress groundwater resources. Unless policymakers make a lasting commitment to groundwater protection and stewardship, Michigan will suffer from a degraded resource unable to serve the state’s needs.

    Building Consensus to Protect Michigan’s Groundwater

    The old saying, “out of sight, out of mind,” all too often characterizes Michigan’s approach to groundwater.

    Understanding that Michigan residents and key stakeholders should value stewardship of all water, including groundwater, FLOW in January 2021 launched and convened the Michigan Groundwater Table composed of diverse membership and perspectives. After more than a year of work, FLOW is releasing a report today, and accompanying story map, on the Groundwater Table’s work.

    The report, Building Consensus: Securing Protection of Michigan’s Groundwater, reflects the work of 22 knowledgeable and influential stakeholders from local government, academia, and regulatory agencies. It contains consensus findings about the status of Michigan’s groundwater and also recommendations on how to improve its protection. Although consensus was not achieved on all groundwater policy options, we are heartened by progress toward consensus on several recommendations related to:

    • Polluter pay
    • Private wells
    • Agricultural stewardship
    • Statewide septic code
    • Public education
    • Data tools.

    Michigan’s groundwater is a critical part of Michigan’s present and future. Increasing population, a changing climate, and limited public funding for prevention and cleanup of contamination will continue to stress groundwater resources.

    Groundwater Table members also agreed that Michigan’s groundwater is a “critical and often overlooked resource,” vital to the state’s public health, agriculture and other businesses, coldwater fisheries, stream ecology, and wetlands, and accounts for at least 25% of the total water inflow to the Great Lakes via groundwater inflow into tributaries. They also found that Michigan has underinvested in monitoring, mapping, and reporting groundwater quantity and quality.

    The immersive story map, meanwhile, takes you on a visual journey from the groundwater basics to unique ecosystems, threats, and protection.

    FLOW’s Commitment to Groundwater Protection

    In a series of reports dating back to 2018, FLOW has called attention to the gap between the importance of groundwater to Michigan’s health and welfare and the state’s historically inconsistent groundwater policies. We have spotlighted groundwater because a significant percentage of the population knows and thinks little of it, even though groundwater provides drinking water, supports agriculture and industry, is critical to Michigan’s internationally renowned trout streams, and more.

    The Building Consensus report concludes that Michigan’s groundwater is a critical part of Michigan’s present and future. Increasing population, a changing climate, and limited public funding for prevention and cleanup of contamination will continue to stress groundwater resources. Unless policymakers make a lasting commitment to groundwater protection and stewardship, Michigan will suffer from a degraded resource unable to serve the state’s needs.

    The blueprint now exists for protecting Michigan’s groundwater—it is time to act on it.