Tag: FLOW for Water

PR: State of Michigan Takes a “Holiday” from Preventing Line 5 Oil Spill Disaster in Great Lakes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                         March 9, 2017

Contact:  Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director                                               Email: Liz@FLOWforWater.org

FLOW (For Love of Water)                                                     Office: (231) 944-1568, Cell: (570) 872-4956

 

State of Michigan Takes a “Holiday” from Preventing Line 5 Oil Spill Disaster in Great Lakes

Snyder Administration Watches and Waits as the 64-year-old Dual Pipelines Missing Their Anti-Rust Coating and Structural Supports Continue to Use Mackinac Straits as a High-Risk Shortcut to Private Profits

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – 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 of an external, anti-rust coating and lacking 18 anchor supports to prevent the pipes from grinding and bending along the bottom and bursting.

The letters – signed by Attorney General Bill Schuette, Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh, and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director Heidi Grether – describe “inviting” Enbridge to explain the company’s September 2016 report that identifies 19 areas along the submerged steel pipes where the anti-corrosion coating is missing. Enbridge’s report euphemistically calls the missing portions “holidays,” industry jargon for areas where the coating has worn or fallen off. The report outlines a plan for assessing Line 5’s integrity where the coating is gone and acidic waste excreted by invasive mussels that blanket the pipes could be causing corrosion.

Enbridge claims that the report is merely “hypothetical,” even though the report flatly states that the external coating is missing and the words “hypothetical” and “theoretical” are not found in the document.

“The State of Michigan is moving in slow motion to question Enbridge’s claims that its own report doesn’t mean what is plainly says,” said Liz Kirkwood, an environmental attorney and executive director of FLOW, a Traverse City-based water law and policy center dedicated to upholding the public’s rights to use and benefit from the Great Lakes. “When the pipelines finally fail, will the state invite Enbridge to explain what the thick, black substance is pouring out of the 64-year-old pipes and into the drinking water source for nearby Mackinac Island, St. Ignace, and roughly 5 million Michiganders?”

The state issued its March 8 letter in response to February 17 correspondence from the Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign, which FLOW co-leads with several other leading organizations, that raised grave and detailed concerns about the condition of Line 5 and called for its immediate shutdown.

An Enbridge representative is expected to explain its report at the March 13 quarterly meeting in Lansing of the governor-appointed Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board, whose members include Attorney General Schuette. The advisory board is overseeing the completion of two nominally independent studies funded by Enbridge: one on the financial risk to communities and the Pure Michigan economy of a Line 5 oil spill in the Mackinac Straits and the other on alternatives to the aging pipeline that could avoid such a disaster. These two studies are expected by June 2017.

Enbridge is infamous for leaking more than one million gallons of heavy tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River watershed near Marshall, Michigan, in 2010, fouling nearly 40 miles of the river and shore, sickening numerous people, harming wildlife, and forcing more than 100 families to permanently abandon their homes and property.

The failure to adequately maintain the Line 5 pipelines, including a lack of supports to prevent bending of the pipeline – is a breach of Enbridge’s 1953 legal easement agreement with the State of Michigan that allows the company to occupy public waters and state bottomlands. The failures documented in the Enbridge report add to the mounting evidence of the unacceptable risk that this infrastructure poses to the Great Lakes.

A three-minute video of Line 5 pipelines in the Straits, researched and edited by FLOW’s engineering expert Dr. Ed Timm, reveals the physical deterioration of Line 5, with missing and dislodged coating, broken bands, detached wooden structural slats, unsupported segments, and possible rust and pitting.

In addition, a just-released technical note prepared by Dr. Timm regarding Line 5 reinforces the urgent need for the state to immediately shut down Line 5 while it evaluates the integrity of the aging infrastructure that pumps nearly 23 million gallons of oil a day through the Mackinac Straits before eventually reaching refineries in Sarnia, Ontario. Specifically, this technical note concludes the following:

  • Line 5 is not immune to corrosion and stress cracking despite its thick walls, contrary to Enbridge’s claims;
  • The asphalt enamel based coating system is compromised or missing on many areas of the pipe;
  • The extent of the coverage by invasive mussels on the pipelines makes it “impossible” to evaluate how much of the coating system is compromised;
  • The easement-required wooden slats that were designed to protect from point loads and abrasion are missing entirely on portions of the pipelines; and
  • The peak currents in the Mackinac Straits are nearly twice the maximum velocity considered when the pipeline was designed, adding significant stress;
  • A full study of the integrity of the coating system that includes a careful examination of the impact of the biofouling on the pipelines is critical to making a proper fitness-for-service evaluation.

“The evidence demands that the State of Michigan respond and fulfill its affirmative fiduciary duty,” wrote Jim Olson, an environmental attorney and FLOW’s president, in a March 9 follow-up letter to the State of Michigan. “It is not enough to stand by the sidelines and merely request additional information from Enbridge given the high risk of a catastrophic oil spill in the Great Lakes that would devastate our public drinking waters and our water-dependent economy. ‘Pure Michigan’ should not just be an advertising slogan.”

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

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FINAL FLOW-Line 5 Media Release-Pipeline Coating 3-9-2017

Nestlé Permit Application Public Comment Period Extended – Comments due April 21; Public hearing April 12

Breaking news:

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has set a public hearing for April 12, 2017, and extended the public comment period until April 21, 2017, on multinational behemoth Nestlé’s bid to more than DOUBLE its groundwater pumping 210 MILLION gallons per year from a well near the headwaters of two coldwater trout streams northwest of Evart in northern Michigan’s Osceola County. 

FLOW’s seasoned team of scientists and water-law attorneys, which includes successful fighters of prior Nestlé water wars, is committed to defending our public waters, wetlands, and aquatic life, and shutting down Nestlé’s private water grab. Please learn more and join us in this fight for Michigan’s freshwater and our future:

 

Latest news:

Nestlé water public hearing will be April 12 | MLive.com http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2017/03/nestle_michigan_public_hearing.html

 

MDEQ info: Details on how to comment, attend public hearing, and access public information on Nestlé’s application and the state’s review.

MDEQ Media Release – March 2, 2017 – Nestlé Permit Application Public Comment Period Extended – Comments due April 21; Public hearing April 12 http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,4561,7-135–406127–,00.html

MDEQ – Nestlé Waters North America’s Submittal of a Permit Application Information Package, under Section 17 of the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act, 1976 PA 399, as amended http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,4561,7-135-3313-399187–,00.html

 

Learn more:

Visit the FLOW website to learn what you can do stop Nestlé’s thirst for Michigan’s groundwater!

 

Help FLOW Fight Nestlé’s Water Grab in Michigan:

FLOW FOR WATER’s Fundraiser https://www.crowdrise.com/help-flow-fight-nestls-water-grab/fundraiser/flowforwater

Jim Olson & Dave Mahan on Natural Resources Stewardship

 

 

A Conversation About Climate and Conservation

In this video produced by Joe VanderMeulen for NatureChange, Phil Ellis, Executive Director of the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation, moderates as two of Northern Michigan’s most respected and experienced environmental leaders discuss the challenges and choices facing our region.

FLOW’s own Jim Olson and Dr. Dave Mahan, former Associate Director of the Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies, offer their insight on this important issue. A must watch.

Click here to see more like this.

 

 

The Great Lakes are no place for fish farming, but there might be one nearby

The waters of the Great Lakes are held in trust by the state as a shared public commons for the benefit of citizens for navigation, boating, fishing, health and sustenance. The courts of all eight Great Lakes states have recognized this principle, which means the states must manage these waters as a trustee for the benefit of all citizens to prevent interference with these public purposes – a duty of stewardship.

Net-pen fish-farming in the Great Lakes poses a major interference with existing protected riparian and public uses of these hallowed waters – landowners, fishermen, boaters, tourists, and citizens. Private fish farming would displace and interfere with the public trust in these waters.

 

Click here to read Jim Olson’s full guest commentary on bridgemi.com!

 

Groundwater – Invisible but Precious

Bob Otwell, FLOW Board of Directors
December 2016

Most of us in northern Michigan drink groundwater and use it to bathe. Outside of metro Detroit, the majority of Michigan’s public water supplies along with water in rural homes comes from groundwater. Groundwater also is used to water golf courses and supply the growing thirst of irrigated farm land. We would not have trout in our northern streams if they were not nourished during the heat of the summer by cold groundwater. This is our invisible resource.

This blog is the first in a two-part series examining groundwater; this article will provide the reader a better understanding of the physics, and the second one will examine current groundwater regulations.

Understanding Groundwater

Groundwater is simply rainfall and snowmelt that has percolated into the ground. In northern Michigan, about one third of our annual 33 inches of precipitation ends up as groundwater. The remainder runs off on the surface to lakes and streams, or is taken up by plants and is lost through evapotranspiration. In the Great Lakes Basin, abundant groundwater is stored in the layers of sand and gravel left behind by the glaciers, and in sandstone and limestone bedrock. The temperature of groundwater is generally the average annual air temperature above the ground. In northern Michigan, this means 50 degrees Fahrenheit all year round. This temperature cools trout streams and provides a nice cool drink in the summer, and it also helps keep small streams from freezing in the winter.

Groundwater flows naturally by gravity through permeable sands and other porous materials, and continues moving downhill until it seeps into wetlands, springs, streams, rivers or lakes. We’ve all seen groundwater percolating into a spring, or felt the cool currents on our feet while swimming in one of our clear lakes. But groundwater discharge to surface water bodies is in fact continuous throughout the bottom of the stream, lake, etc., even though we can’t see it. They are connected, and if you care about a certain babbling brook, you in fact care deeply about the groundwater that makes it what it is. Rivers and streams flow at a velocity measured in feet per second, whereas groundwater flows at a rate of feet per day. This sure and steady seepage provides the base flow that makes a perennial stream flow all year round.

Groundwater also flows unnaturally where the “downhill” direction is altered through the installation of wells and pumps. This pumping creates a “drawdown cone” around the well. If a small well is installed, there is a small blip in the groundwater table. By contrast, if a large well is placed with a large capacity pump, the groundwater table can be altered dramatically. Where there are many large wells, serious regional impacts can take place. The High Plains (Ogallala) aquifer that extends from South Dakota to Texas has been over-pumped for decades, resulting in a lowering of the groundwater table in some areas of over 150 feet. This significant drawdown forces other groundwater users to deepen their wells, increasing their costs and energy requirements. This “mining” of water has created a net loss of groundwater in the High Plains of 340 km³. What would be the effect if this volume of water was taken from Lake Michigan? If spread out over the surface area, this would reduce the lake level by 20 feet.

Large wells can also dry up springs and streams. The most vulnerable springs and streams are those near the headwaters, where flowing tributary groundwater is limited. Ironically, due to FDA requirements, this area is where bottled water companies must install their wells if they want to label the bottle “Spring Water.” Pump a gallon out of the ground in these areas and you lose a gallon in the stream.

Groundwater, springs, wetlands, rivers and lakes are all interconnected. To care about one, is to care about all. Are we taking care of our groundwater in Michigan?

To be continued next time.

Note: I have simplified the discussion above to aid in understanding. Hydrogeology is complicated by a combination of confined, unconfined and perched aquifers, separated by discontinuous layers of less permeable soils (silt, clay and glacial till). In addition, we only know for sure what we find in a soil boring at a specific location, and we must then interpolate between the borings. Our knowledge is dependent on the funds available to install multiple borings.

Interview with Brooke Weatherford from Eightfold Creative

I support keeping oil out of the Great Lakes

FLOW is forever spreading awareness. It is our job to educate people about public trust and about what is happening with the Great Lakes in the world today – the joys and potential threats, and what we can do about our water. Part of that awareness is through social media. We teamed up with Eightfold Creative to gather awareness in an eye-catching way to important Great Lakes issues. I have Brooke Weatherford here today to talk about the process.

 

Brooke, thanks for joining us. Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Brooke Weatherford. I am a recent graduate of Michigan State University’s Master’s in Advertising program with a specialization in Non-Profit Fundraising. I earned my B.A. from MSU as well in 2015 in Marketing. I currently work as a social media coordinator under the brand Eightfold Creative out of Detroit, Michigan. Eightfold Creative is a high-quality video production company founded by a group of my friends in 2013 that has grown into a highly competitive force in the industry. I have always been passionate about advertising strategy and knew that I wanted to do some type of creative branding. Two years ago, I began independently managing social media pages for a few local businesses under the Eightfold brand. Fast forward to today, and I have been doing social media management, content creation, and design work consistently, while finishing my degrees and working on a number of other Eightfold Projects. 
 

Tell us some more about Eightfold Creative, and what makes it unique.

Eightfold is unique because it was started from the ground up by a group of MSU students in film and business only five short years ago. Since then, the company has acquired a number of high profile clients and has developed strong relationships with top level advertising agencies in Detroit. Eightfold is the perfect example of the next generation taking the reigns of an industry and doing things their own way. The culture and work ethic of this group is truly outstanding, and even though I never expected to be immersed in the film industry, I really love where it has taken me. The best way to understand Eightfold is to visit our site and view the productions. They truly speak for themselves. 
 

It’s a Michigan-based company. And a lot of the work you have been doing for FLOW focuses specifically on Michigan and the Great Lakes. A passion and personal investment is often present in your work. What instigated this passion for the Great Lakes?

I have always had a strong love for the outdoors. Growing up, my parents always had a boat, and I would spend every weekend out on the lakes being rocked to sleep by the waves, and waking up to the sound of the Lake Michigan seagulls. As I have grown older and began traveling the world, I have developed a sense of pride for Michigan and its natural beauty, feeling almost as if it is a secret that people don’t always understand unless they have experienced it first-hand. Growing up in East Lansing, I learned about community activism early on, and participated in it throughout high school. But the idea of involving it into my career didn’t hit me until midway through my college career. As I traversed through a series of corporate internships, I learned more and more about what it means to love what you do. I found that getting involved and pursuing ways to contribute to helping non-profits by doing what I do best was a way to get fulfillment out of my career. Today, I have worked on social media and branding campaigns for 4 non-profits and hope to expand this portfolio. I spent last summer creating media for an eco-village in the Panamanian jungle, where I learned exactly what it meant to live 100% sustainably, in harmony with the land and water, and how to communicate the teachings of that lifestyle back to people at home.  Much of my free time today is spent loving the outdoors and surrounding myself with that culture.
 

That’s excellent. There is so much outdoor beauty right here in Michigan. To take that one step further, tell us about how your experiences inspired your ideas for the social media campaigns. 

The idea behind the imagery in the campaigns for FLOW were based in the goals of creating an emotional connection that would boost awareness about key issues like shutting down Line 5. Fortunately, the beauty of the outdoors is something that we all have in common, so using the beautiful attention grabbing photography to stop people from scrolling was an easy first step for me. Beyond that, the key to this campaign was consistency and simplicity, and the call to action about sharing that really made the connections with people. The posts are meant not only to educate but to give users a sense of pride by posting the photo. When they share a post that clearly states their support for a cause like protecting wildlife, or keeping pollution out of the Great Lakes, they automatically gain rapport from their online peers. Caring about something is becoming trendy, and posting about it online helps people not only feel like they are helping contribute, but puts them in a positive light in their friends’ eyes. Capitalizing on these emotions to boost awareness about important environmental issues was my primary strategy with this campaign. 
 

Aside from sharing the posts, what can our readers do to help contribute?

I think the best way to help care for the Great Lakes is to talk about them with the people around you. As impactful as social media can be, it is the social part that makes the most difference. Telling your friends, family, and co-workers about risks the Great Lakes are facing, or educating them on how to be a more responsible citizen is what will make the most difference. Being vocally appreciative for the natural world is another way to make people think. If someone who respects you hears you speak fondly of the Great Lakes and their pristine beauty, they may consider their own impact or appreciation more deeply. 10 of these conversations could then turn into 40 and then into 100 and then into thousands. A change in culture is the only way to make a real difference, and changing culture starts with the confident and sincere voice of a friend. 
 

Well, we have been glad to hear your voice today. Brooke, where can people find out more about you and your work?

You can learn more about me and my work at www.brookeweatherford.com,

and also at www.eightfold-creative.com.

 

Thanks for sharing, Brooke.

 
 
 

FLOW Letter to Michigan DEQ regarding Nestlé

On December 16, 2016, FLOW (For Love of Water) wrote a letter and formally requested that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) cancel its approval of Nestlé’s application to more than double its groundwater pumping for commercial water bottling from a well northwest of Evart, in Osceola County.

After conducting an independent assessment, FLOW’s environmental attorneys determined that the MDEQ made a serious legal error in January 2016, when it approved the Swiss food and beverage giant Nestlé’s site-review request for increased pumping under the state Safe Drinking Water Act, but failed to require a parallel application and review under the Water Withdrawal Law.

Here is the letter that was submitted:

 

Human Rights to Water and Sanitation Toolkit

Dear friends,

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 Day on December 10. This project was a collaborative effort between water justice activists and human rights lawyers from around the world. Together we have documented key legal victories and local case studies that emphasize how the human rights to water and sanitation are being claimed by communities around the world and implemented in a manner that strengthens campaigns against the corporate takeover of water.

The Human Rights to Water and Sanitation toolkit is part of the Water Justice toolkit that was launched in March 2016. The water justice toolkit was created through the joint effort of organizations and grassroots as a strategy to consolidate our knowledge and support local campaigns against the corporate takeover of water.

We hope you will join us in getting the word out about this new resource and providing feedback.

Click here to check out the toolkit!

Standing Rock win echoes across the Great Lakes

“Sunday marked a hard-earned victory for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe with the announced construction halt of the Dakota Access oil pipeline.

The protest’s main message has resonated here in Michigan and around the globe because of its core truth: oil pipelines – new and old – threaten lands and waters that are vital, not just to tribal members but to all Americans.”

FLOW’s Executive Director, Liz Kirkwood, brings the Standing Rock victory home to Michigan in this opinion piece from the Record Eagle. The time has come to defend our water.