FLOW’s 2015-2017 Progress on Great Lakes Protection

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FLOW’s 2015-2017 Progress on Great Lakes Protection

In the last two years, FLOW has taken a leadership role in many efforts to protect the public ownership and health of the Great Lakes. FLOW has provided science, technical, and legal analysis to underpin the work of citizens fighting for the Great Lakes.

Committed to offering a sound basis for advocacy on behalf of the Great Lakes, FLOW works with expert scientists, engineers, consultants, board members, and a diverse array of partners to deliver strong arguments not just for turning back threats to the Great Lakes, but also for advancing public awareness and protection of public trust values for all of Michigan's waters.

Key facets of FLOW’s recent work include:

Contesting Nestlé's Water Grab. FLOW founder Jim Olson again played a major role in researching and developing strong legal and scientific arguments against a new proposal by Nestlé to dramatically increase water extraction to 210 million gallons a year near Evart, Michigan. FLOW helped generate thousands of citizen comments opposing Nestlé's proposal because it would damage nearby wetlands and streams, and thereby degrade and privatize public resources.
Shutting Down Line 5 at the Mackinac Straits. FLOW and expert advisors have built a strong case for the state to terminate the easement it granted Enbridge in 1953 for twin oil pipelines crossing at the Straits of Mackinac. FLOW also proposed practical alternatives for oil transport that don’t threaten the Great Lakes. Enbridge’s track record of disregard for legal requirements and lack of basic environmental stewardship in protecting these vital waters served as the centerpiece of FLOW’s case against further use of the risky underwater pipelines. FLOW’s work challenging Line 5, as well as the Nestlé’s pumping proposal, attracted coverage by national and international journalists.
Preventing Factory Fish Farms in the Great Lakes. FLOW strongly reminded policymakers and the public that the Great Lakes are not to be used as factory fish farms for private profit. Aquaculture proposals that would have sited commercial  fish farms in the public’s waters, generating large amounts of waste and preventing public use of those waters, were turned back at least in the short run by FLOW and our allies. FLOW supports appropriate aquaculture that is not located in, nor connected to, public waters.
Building Great Lakes Champions. The Great Lakes need all the help they can get against an onslaught of threats. And because the Great Lakes belong to all of us, it makes sense to us at FLOW that all of us who love and benefit from these magnificent waters share in the vital task of helping protect them. That’s why we work so hard to educate the public and increase our shared water literacy. Together we must understand the risks facing our Great Lakes and very way of life so that we can pursue real solutions rooted in the public trust. In the last two years, our staff made dozens of public presentations to groups ranging in age and experience from middle school students to senior citizen groups, and in geography from Southeast and West Michigan to Traverse City, Mackinac Island, and the Upper Peninsula, and in strategic locations across the Great Lakes basin. Step-by-step, we are building Great Lakes champions from shore-to-shore.