We can outthink clever buffalo who know how to turn on water spigots at campsites in the dry southwestern United States. The larger problem is that many folks, including state employees, have their heads in the sand when it comes to solutions that will prevent future catastrophes like running out of water. Unless people in the West start seriously restraining their unlimited development and deal with declining water levels, they will soon be eyeing our bulging Great Lakes to solve their self-induced problems.
Professor David Lusch retired in 2017, after a 38-year career in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences at Michigan State University (MSU). Beginning in 1992 with the publication of the Aquifer Vulnerability Map of Michigan, Dr. Lusch helped pioneer the use of geographic information systems for groundwater mapping and management in Michigan. We asked him to offer his views on critical groundwater matters in Michigan.
Last month marked the 50th anniversary of turning off the American Falls, the smaller of the main cataracts at Niagara Falls. In the 1950s, engineers had replumbed the much larger Horseshoe Falls, shrinking it and diverting the majority of the water before it plunged over the precipice. All this may not seem very “green” — but the point was primarily to funnel water to hydropower stations. Thus, the modern history of Niagara Falls raises some interesting questions about what sustainability looks like in the Great Lakes basin.
July is “Public Trust Month” at FLOW, a time to gather views and inspiration from people from all walks of life who live, use and enjoy, or depend on the waters of the Great Lakes Basin for life, recreation, and livelihood. Talk about a gift for all of us to celebrate on Independence Day and FLOW’s “Public Trust Month.” This is one to be thankful for, exercise, and protect for ourselves, our children, grandchildren, and all future generations.
Late last year, the Michigan Legislature approved $15 million in annual funding for recycling programs. To learn more about this initiative, FLOW interviewed Matt Flechter, Recycling Market Development Specialist at the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.
John Hartig is intimately connected with one of the most successful environmental restoration projects in the United States, the recovery of the once highly degraded Detroit River. He retired in 2018 after 14 years as manager of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge and more than 30 years with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In his new book, Waterfront Porch: Reclaiming Detroit’s Industrial Waterfront as a Gathering Place for All, he chronicles the exciting comeback of the river and the connection restoration efforts have forged between the community and the river.
This spring, water levels on all five of the Great Lakes have reached, or are approaching, record highs. The result of unusually high winter and spring precipitation, increased winter ice cover and reduced evaporation, these new highs are the latest in a never-ending series of Great Lakes level fluctuations. Studies show that climate change is causing or contributing to more rapid swings between high and low water levels.
During this high-water month of July, FLOW will publish video postcards each weekday that feature Michiganders (and citizens of the Great Lakes Basin) explaining what the Public Trust Doctrine means to us and how our precious, publicly-owned fresh water shapes our lives and relationship to this place we call home.
Today represents a historic turning point for all Michiganders. Attorney General (AG) Dana Nessel took decisive legal action on Pipeline 5 in the Straits of Mackinac when she filed suit in Ingham County Circuit Court to revoke the 1953 Easement that conditionally authorized Enbridge to pump oil through twin pipelines.
Michigan’s estimated 140,000 compromised septic systems aren’t just a water pollution problem — they’re a threat to human health. A new video documentary produced by Joe VanderMeulen of NatureChange.org and sponsored by FLOW, the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC), Leelanau Clean Water, and the Benzie Conservation District underscores the serious health risks posed by a hidden pollution source fouling groundwater, lakes, streams and drinking water across Michigan. Evidence is growing that on-site septic systems, used to handle and break down sewage and other household wastes in areas without public sewage treatment systems, are contributing to disease.