Tag: Michigan

When is Clean Not Clean? A Critical Environmental Issue

The discovery of thousands of discarded chemical drums on the Hooker Chemical Company property near Montague, Michigan in the 1970s helped spur Michigan's toxic cleanup program.

The discovery of thousands of discarded chemical drums on the Hooker Chemical Company property near Montague, Michigan in the 1970s helped spur Michigan’s toxic cleanup program.

Now retired, Andrew Hogarth was the respected longtime chief of the Remediation and Redevelopment Division – in charge of toxic cleanup – in the State Department of Environmental Quality. Despite over 30 years of effort by state government and more than $1 billion of state taxpayer money invested to deal with toxic contamination, thousand of toxic sites remain. Recent publicity about chemical contamination across the state prompted FLOW to ask Hogarth for perspective.

Can you give a little history of how Michigan’s cleanup program has evolved? 

In the early days of Michigan’s cleanup program, our objective was to clean contaminated sites up to naturally occurring conditions, making them safe for all uses. Since groundwater is a public trust resource, part of the commonwealth of our citizens, the approach was that only the Michigan Attorney General, on behalf of the people of the state, could accept less in a settlement involving contaminated groundwater. It was a fairly simple approach that was relatively easy to discuss and implement on some sites.

However, it soon became clear, given the large number of contaminated sites and the costs involved, that the natural background level was often not practical or sometimes not even possible to achieve. This led to a need for another way to establish cleanup goals for contaminated sites. “How clean is clean?” became a question posed by experts in many fields across the country to signify the challenge we faced. It led to what we now call risk based cleanup criteria.

Criteria needed to be developed for the full range of potential migration and exposure pathways and the health, environmental, and safety risks they might pose. The new approach also made it unnecessary to meet criteria if exposures through that pathway could be reliably controlled. [For example, a community might pass an ordinance banning new well installation in contaminated aquifers.]


What are the implications of this change?

Over the period of my career, the biggest change has been going to risk based cleanup criteria with the option of imposing use restrictions on future use of the property. This now happens frequently, as responsible parties choose not to clean up a site sufficiently to make it safe for unrestricted residential use. This change has been one that the regulated community has favored in an effort to reduce cleanup costs, but it has created program complexity and poses potential health and safety problems for the future.

A number of different exposure pathways or hazards need to be considered for every site, such as drinking of groundwater, direct contact with soil, runoff into surface waters, vapor intrusion into buildings, and fire and explosion hazards, to name a few. Other important factors such as chemical toxicity, variations in likely exposures associated with differing land uses, and what kind of use restrictions are reliable are critical matters that need to be built into the regulatory scheme. To be protective into the future, the use restrictions must be effective in perpetuity.


Is there anything going on in Lansing to address these concerns?

Michigan’s Part 201 Cleanup Criteria Rules set forth what the criteria are and how they are to be applied. The last major update to these rules was in 2002. Much of the science supporting those criteria is now decades old, and in some cases outdated. Consequently, many criteria are no longer protective, and some are too restrictive. Some chemicals now of serious concern are not even included. MDEQ staff have been working for several years with various stakeholder groups, to develop a revised rules package. Those revisions are now out for public comment.

Although not all members of the regulated community agree with all the changes, it is a good package that includes updated exposure and toxicity information, where available, and an improved process for addressing vapor intrusion. It should provide a much improved program for dealing with contaminated sites and the hazards they pose. Of particular importance is the vapor intrusion pathway, which if not dealt with properly, can pose serious health and safety hazards for an unsuspecting public.

It is very important that the rules be promulgated soon. I am very concerned that the few stakeholders that continue to object to certain aspects of the package will use the legislative process to delay or block its implementation. Recently proposed Senate bills, if passed, could provide unnecessary platforms for creating confusion about the science and delaying progress.


Is there a way of protecting people in the future from the risk of exposure to contaminants that have not been cleaned up from some sites?

It is critically important that the land use restrictions and engineering controls placed on properties as part of a site remedy be properly installed, maintained in perpetuity, and be recorded with the deed. Such sites also need to be properly monumented to reduce the potential for accidental breaching of exposure barriers or land use activities inconsistent with the use restrictions. As properties change hands in the future, the likelihood of such problems increases.

There are already thousands of properties in Michigan with land use restrictions as part of a contaminated site cleanup project. There are many more sites that are known to be
contaminated where a remedy has not been implemented. At these sites, even if the owners or operators are not the party liable for causing the contamination, owners and operators are obligated to exercise due care to assure that people do not get exposed to unsafe conditions. However, MDEQ does not have the resources to assure that these sites are being effectively monitored.

Political efforts to deregulate and shrink the size of government leave agencies like the MDEQ underfunded and understaffed to accomplish their missions. If sufficient resources are not available to monitor compliance with these obligations, 20, 50, maybe 100 years from now, once again people may be asking: Why did they let this happen? What were they thinking?

Public Trust Tuesday: A Spreading Stain


FLOW’s organizing principle is the public trust doctrine.  What sounds like an exotic concept is quite simple.  This 1500-year-old principle of common law holds that there are some resources, like water and submerged lands, that by their nature cannot be privately owned.  Rather, this commons – including the Great Lakes — belongs to the public.  And governments, like the State of Michigan, have a responsibility to protect public uses of these resources.  We explicitly address public trust concerns on what we’re calling Public Trust Tuesday.

New York’s Love Canal was once an instantly recognizable label to most Americans.  In 1980, after toxic waste from an old chemical dump began to ooze up in the yards of a housing development built atop the dump, authorities evacuated the neighborhood.  Love Canal became a national symbol of chemical mismanagement, and the impetus for the Superfund cleanup program.

Michigan officials looking for toxic waste dumps and spill sites affecting groundwater found them everywhere.  That, coupled with public concern about everything from health effects to depressed property values, prompted the Legislature and voters to kick in more than $1 billion in state funds for groundwater cleanup.

And then something happened.

In 1995, state policy changed.  Instead of striving to remove all contamination, Michigan went to a risk-based approach – meaning contamination could remain in the ground if means could be put to work to limit the exposure of human beings to these poisons.  These means could be everything from a concrete cap atop contaminated soil to a local ordinance prohibiting the drilling of new wells into contaminated groundwater. 

That saved businesses legally responsible for the contamination considerable money, but it also fostered the spread of contaminants in groundwater in many locations – often groundwater once used for drinking water.

Some areas with spreading contamination have recently attracted media attention, including sites associated with Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Wolverine Worldwide and Mancelona.

The Michigan DEQ estimates that contaminated groundwater is coming out of the ground and discharging to lakes, streams or wetlands at approximately 1,000 locations in Michigan.  It’s as if 1,000 new (and sloppy) chemical plants were sited in Michigan and were allowed to have lax or no controls on the pollution they are sending into our common waters.

The public trust doctrine holds that certain natural resources like navigable waters are preserved in perpetuity for public use and enjoyment, and that government has a duty to safeguard these uses as a trustee on behalf of the public.  By allowing contaminated groundwater to spread and pollute surface water, the State of Michigan has failed to fulfill its public trust obligations.  It’s not only a breach of the public trust in water, it’s a potentially grave threat to the health of our citizens.

The Largest Lake in the World

We have many important public trust resources in our region, but one of them gets little attention —Lake Michigan-Huron.

Lake Michigan-Huron is one water body, despite its appearance to the eye and mind.  People living in Empire or Alpena live on the same lake. They’re in the same watershed and tread a single uninterrupted shore.

When North Americans are asked to identify the largest lake in the world, many of them single out Lake Superior.  But they’re wrong. Russia’s Lake Baikal is the largest by volume.  Lake Michigan-Huron is the largest by surface area at 45,300 square miles.  Superior is a mere 31,700 square miles and Baikal, an even smaller 12,248.

Why isn’t Lake Michigan-Huron widely recognized by the public?  It has a single water level.  But nature has designed it in such a way as to fool the human mind.  Linked only by a five-mile strait, the Michigan lobe and the Huron lobe resemble fraternal twins.  One is dotted by large cities, and heavily industrialized at one end.  The watershed of the other is lightly populated, and the lake/lobe has been all but forgotten.

Dave Dempsey

There is a remarkable diversity to Lake Michigan-Huron.  Sandy and stony shores, majestic cities and legal wilderness, sturgeon and salmon, the feeling of the north and the anxious intensity of the Midwest, the maple leaf and the red, white and blue.  There is no other lake close to it in all the world.

So, here’s to Lake Michigan-Huron.


Nestlé Must Still Prove to State It Can Divert Water from Headwater Creeks

Bottled water

A Circuit Court ruling reversing Osceola Township’s denial of a zoning permit for a booster station five days before Christmas does not clear the way for Nestlé’s push for a massive increase in pumping from 150 gpm to 400 gpm (210 million gallons a year) from two headwater creeks. Nestlé must still obtain a permit from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality under two laws that prevent Nestlé from degrading water levels, fish, wildlife, habitat, and wetlands.

In June 2017, the DEQ refused to issue a permit because Nestlé failed to submit sufficient proof that its more-than-doubled removal of water would not harm the waters and the state’s paramount public interest in its natural resources. In November, 2017, a Nestlé consulting firm submitted additional information based on an addendum to its computer model. FLOW, a Great Lakes Policy Center, and other organizations, including Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation and Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, have submitted comments contesting the adequacy of Nestle’s model and supporting information. Their comments have demonstrated the model is not reliable to determine effects to headwater creeks, streams, and wetlands, and that some of the data has demonstrated adverse effects at even 150 gallons per minute.

In a related matter, Circuit Judge Susan Sniegowski released a decision on December 20, 2017 that reversed an Osecola Township zoning denial of a booster station located along a water pipeline more than a mile from the wellhead. The booster pump would increase pressure in the line to handle the large expansion. The Court ruled that Nestlé’s booster station could be located in the township’s agricultural zoning district because it qualified as an “essential public service.”

“The Court ruling is a narrow one,” said Jim Olson, noted water and land use lawyer and advisor to FLOW. “The Court ruled only that Nestlé did not have to show ‘public convenience and necessity’ in order to qualify for the ‘essential public service’ exception for its booster station in the farming district. It does not affect the continued lack of proofs needed for the state permit.”

             Jim Olson                     

Nestlé must still overcome the demands from the State, FLOW, MCWC, the Tribes, and thousands of public comments to show that the massive increase will not adversely affect and harm water and natural resources.

Nestlé lost a 9-year battle in Mecosta County when the circuit and appellate courts found that the removal of 400 gpm from a similar headwater stream system was unlawful. “Based on the experience in Mecosta, it is unreasonable for Nestlé to expect, let alone for the State to approve, an increase above 150 gpm, if at all,” Olson said. “So the booster station is largely superfluous.”

Tilting at Tunnels and a Brighter Tomorrow

As a native Michigander and optimist, I’ve always welcomed the first day of winter as a harbinger of longer, hopefully sunnier days just over the horizon. But I was recently reminded by a friend that, of course, the winter solstice that occurred Thursday at 11:28 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, actually marks the shortest day and longest night in the Northern Hemisphere.

So depending on the tilt of your perspective, the solstice is cause for deepening dread, a condition aptly summed up as “SAD,” or relative hope: There’s scientific evidence to suggest that without the tilt of the earth’s axis, we might not be here at all.

As we at FLOW take stock of our shared efforts in 2017 to prioritize and protect the Great Lakes and look ahead to challenges and opportunities to come in the new year, consider this dichotomy related to the battle to shut down the decaying Line 5 oil pipelines in the Mackinac Straits that suggest from my viewpoint that Great Lakes protectors are growing stronger and there indeed are brighter days ahead.

First the Dark: In October, Enbridge admitted misleading both Michigan and federal officials on the condition of its Line 5 oil pipelines for over three years, concealing the existence of at least 48 bare metal spots and/or coating gaps near anchor locations in the straits.

Then in late November, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder bypassed his own advisory board and announced his sweetheart, backroom deal with Enbridge to tilt the search for alternatives to a looming Great Lakes oil spill disaster toward a tunnel under the Mackinac Straits. Gov. Snyder, however, inadvertently lit a spark under those who recognize that the drinking water supply for half of all Michiganders is no place for oil pipelines.

Then the Firelight: FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood correctly called it a “reward for failure” for bumbling Enbridge. The governor’s spurned advisory board found its voice in early December and passed resolutions, in part, calling for an amendment to the deal to require the temporary shutdown of Line 5 until there has been the full inspection of and repair of the coating breaches and urging the state to conduct a much more robust assessment of alternatives to Line 5.

Apparently preferring a rubber-stamp board, Gov. Snyder was quick to dismiss his advisors, saying, “I’m not sure I view that as a regular meeting in terms of that resolution.” But the public was buoyed by the board’s backbone, with hundreds of outraged residents turning out and piping up in public meetings in Taylor, St. Ignace, and Traverse City to object to the governor’s deal and support a shutdown.

Meanwhile, members of the growing Great Lakes Business Network sharpened their questioning of why the state would allow – even promote – a Canadian pipeline company’s business model that rakes in profit by threatening to torpedo the Pure Michigan economy. And the Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign co-led by FLOW, tribes, and several other stewardship groups scheduled a Shut Down Line 5! Snyder/Schuette Accountability Rally for noon Thursday, with dozens of people expected to carry the torch for shutting down Line 5 on what would otherwise be the darkest day and give a final push for public comment that ends Friday on the state’s flawed alternatives analysis.

More Illumination in 2018: Stay tuned in early 2018 when the campaign will release its detailed plan to decommission Line 5 while ensuring propane still flows to the Upper Peninsula and Michigan’s other energy needs are met. FLOW’s technical advisors have done some of that decommissioning groundwork, as summarized in fact sheets here and here.

In addition, Michigan Technilogical University will lead a Line 5 risk study in 2018. The Snyder-Enbridge deal calls for completion of the Line 5 review process by August 15, when the state is expected to make a final decision to replace the pipelines or shut them down.

Shining Brighter Together: For FLOW, the broader context is that the Great Lakes belong to all of us, so all of us who love and benefit from these magnificent waters must share in the vital task of helping protect them.

That’s why we work so hard to educate the public and ensure these freshwater inland seas remain and become even more drinkable, fishable, and swimmable for generations to come. 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. And one very real solution is for the state of Michigan to shut down Line 5.  


Kelly Thayer, FLOW Contributor

Where Did the Water Go?

Jim Maturen of Reed City is a lifelong conservationist who looked personally into the
concern that Nestle’s water withdrawals are affecting critical and sensitive trout streams.
He did it the old-fashioned way – he went out in the streams. We asked him for his

The controversy over Nestlé’s extraction of water in Osceola County has been fought in meeting rooms and offices. Is that why you went out in the field?

Yes. As a trout fisherman for 60 years and in law enforcement for 31 years, I decided to discover the facts.

Two trout streams begin from the spring that Nestlé has tapped for its water pumping. One is Chippewa Creek and the other is Twin Creek. It came to my attention that landowners on Chippewa Creek had dated photographs of a full flowing creek and then another of low water and mud flats after Nestlé began its operation. On July 17, John McLane and I began our research in the field. John is a registered surveyor who knows the area very well.


What did you find?

What I expected to find were full, fast running streams. What I found were still-flowing but extremely shallow streams. We were there to determine if there is sufficient temperature to support trout. As we worked downstream from the headwaters temperatures in the two streams varied from a low of 56° to a high of 65°, which is sufficient to retain trout.


What did you use as a baseline?

The fisheries division of the Michigan DNR conducted a research study on whirling disease in trout in both streams in July 2000. They started on Chippewa Creek 300 feet downstream from 90th Ave. in Osceola Township and went back to the culvert using shocking equipment to gather trout specimens. On July 31, John and I began stopping at sites in the DNR study to see if we could water depth sufficient to support trout. Our first stop was at Chippewa Creek at 90th Avenue, where the DNR study was conducted in 2000.

As I walked downstream from the culvert, the water was ankle deep. There was a lot of woody material in the creek, but no holes were found and no trout found. This is the exact spot where the DNR in 2000 found an abundant amount of trout, but no longer. Trout cannot survive in such shallow water.


That’s a big change.

Next stop was on Twin Creek at South Oak Street in Evart. This is the same area where the DNR collected 20 trout. We had difficulty accessing the same location but checked the cover just downstream. There were only about eight inches of water downstream.

Everywhere we checked, water was low. But we found Nestlé’s monitoring pipe and an additional measuring device downstream from several culverts – typically the deepest part of a stream. Was Nestle trying to distort the situation in the creeks, making the maximum depth appear to be average?


What’s your overall conclusion?

We spent a great deal of time examining the two creeks. It’s apparent that Nestlé’s operation is affecting the traditional flow of water to these creeks. By doing so, they have destroyed the fishery. How can Nestlé be allowed to take more water? They should be limited to 150 gallons per minute. If the streams don’t recover, then Nestlé’s operations must be terminated. I have brought these facts to the attention of the state Department of Environmental Quality. I hope they will give them the weight they deserve.


Any final thoughts?

Facts must be the basis of any decision making on Nestlé’s proposal to extract more water. Out in the real world where government decisions have their impact, Nestlé is already in the process of ruining sensitive and vital natural resources. They should not be allowed to do more damage.


Jim Maturen served with the Michigan State Police from 1957 until 1989, retiring as a
sergeant.  He served on the Osceola County Board of Commissioners from 1983 until
2002. He co-founded the first local chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation in
Michigan in 1983 and co-founded the Michigan Wild Turkey Hunters Association in

Media Release: 1% for the Great Lakes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                October 26, 2017

Contact: Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director                                     Contact: Timothy Young, Founder
FLOW (For Love of Water)                                                                Esch Road Foods
liz@flowforwater.org                                                                         timothy@foodforthought.net

FLOW (For Love of Water) and Esch Road Foods Join Forces to Encourage Great Lakes Stewardship and Expand “1% for the Great Lakes”

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

When Food For Thought launched Esch Road Foods, it was named after the founders’ favorite beach in the Sleeping Bear Dunes. Known as “Esch Beach” to locals, the beach held a special meaning for their family, and from the beginning, they committed to using Esch Road Foods to making a difference for the Great Lakes. One piece of that includes their commitment to donate 1% of sales to non-profit organizations that seek to protect and educate on the Great Lakes.

Taking inspiration from Patagonia’s 1% for the Planet campaign, the company launched “1% for the Great Lakes,” created a logo and displayed it proudly in hopes of inspiring both individuals and businesses to do the same. This year, Esch Road Foods devoted all of its 1% to FLOW (For Love of Water) for their inspiring legal and educational work around threats to the Great Lakes. FLOW and Esch Road Foods are partnering to expand the concept of “1% for the Great Lakes” and encourage other business owners and individuals to pledge to join the movement. “Business leaders like Timothy and Kathy Young are models of business environmental stewardship,” said Liz Kirkwood, the Executive Director of FLOW. “Their Great Lakes commitment runs deep.”

In the coming months, FLOW and Esch Road Foods plan to connect with additional Great Lakes Basin business owners to expand the dialogue about Great Lakes stewardship and encourage more people to commit to contributing “1% for the Great Lakes.” Timothy Young, founder of Esch Road Foods, said, “Ultimately, our vision is for ‘1% for the Great Lakes’ to become a movement open to businesses, individuals and other groups, pledging in a variety of ways. Our hope is that folks will use their imaginations and give what they can. Is it 1% of your tax return? 1% of your income? Or if you are a business owner, is it 1% of your sales? That’s up to you. It only matters that we make a commitment. No one can do that except you.”

To learn more, or to join the “1% for the Great Lakes” movement, email FLOW at info@flowforwater.org.

About FLOW (For Love of Water):

Everything is reflected in the name: For Love of Water. FLOW’s mission is to empower people with public trust strategies that will protect the Great Lakes forever. Learn more at flowforwater.org.

About Esch Road Foods:

While founded in 2012, Esch Road Foods comes with a long history of award-winning specialty foods. In 1995, Timothy and Kathy Young founded Food For Thought on their organic farm adjacent to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in northwest Michigan. Esch Road Foods is their newest line that represents what is great about the Great Lakes. This line is nothing but premium products that are all natural and made in small batches on the farm. 1% of all sales is donated to Great Lakes conservation. Learn more at eschroad.com.

Water is Life: Strengthening the Great Lakes Commons

On September 29-30, 2017, concerned residents from across Michigan, USA and Ontario, Canada, along with Indigenous peoples will gather in Flint, Michigan to discuss Great Lakes threats, human rights and water sovereignty.

We invite you to participate in this community-based summit of Michigan, Ontario and Indigenous residents opposing commodification and privatization of water, and strengthening the Great Lakes commons and indigenous sovereignty. Featured keynotes, plenaries and workshops will address how bottled water turns commons into commodities and how Great Lakes peoples can shift water ownership into guardianship and a human right.

Register TODAY and indicate your workshop preferences, spaces limited.

Statement to Pipeline Safety Advisory Board

Line 5 Pipeline


The state pipeline safety advisory board met Monday to discuss next steps on Line 5 at the Straits of Mackinac, in the wake of new revelations about shoddy Line 5 maintenance by Enbridge. FLOW's statement at the meeting said enough is known about the pipeline's condition and poor maintenance for the state to immediately revoke the pipeline's easement to traverse the Straits.


Osceola County Site Visit –  Stealing Michigan’s Invisible Resource


This article is a follow-up to my January post on “Groundwater – Invisible but Precious.”

On a recent bike tour in northern Michigan, I decided to put Evart on the itinerary and stop by the area where Nestle Waters North America is hoping to increase their taking of Michigan groundwater. Nestle would like to increase the flow in their existing production well (PW-1) from 250 gallons per minute (gpm) to 400 gpm, and send the water to their water bottling plant in Mecosta County. This flow would total over 500,000 gallons per day, or 210 million gallons per year. Nestle’s cost to take this water - a $200 permit fee. This production well is located in a hydrologically sensitive area of springs and between the upper reaches of Twin Creek and Chippewa Creek.

Before my visit, I had already reviewed information provided by Nestle: topographic maps, soil borings, historical stream flow and groundwater level data, an aquifer test performed on the production well, and the predictions from a groundwater computer model their consultants produced. Hydrologists rely on this type of data and models to analyze watersheds and look at “what if” scenarios. A site visit fills in some of the gaps and details that you can’t see on a sheet of paper or on your computer screen.

This area just north of the small village of Evart is beautiful - rolling and wooded. The land is private, and mostly occupied by hunt clubs and the Spring Hill Camp. The travel was slow for me on my bike because the roads were soft gravel and hilly. A loaded touring bike (and owner) prefer flat and paved. I was able to only see the creeks where they crossed the roads, but I was able to get some sense of the hydrology and topography.

Bike touring provides lots of time to think, and my concerns with this taking of Michigan groundwater rolled around in my brain. Two primary concerns are as follows:

  1. Nestle has been pumping groundwater from this production well for over a decade and gathering data. It is unusual but very beneficial to have all of this historical data. Unfortunately, Nestle did not use the data to analyze the effects of the historic pumping on the small streams and springs near their production well PW-1, nor did they share all of the data with the public. They only used the data to develop a computer model that was then utilized to predict the impacts of an increased flow from PW-1. Computer models are far from perfect. FLOW hired its own hydrologist to review Nestle’s reports, and has pointed to several concerns and unsupported assumptions in Nestle’s work.
  2. The production well is located where it is so that Nestle can label the water “Spring Water.” Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements in fact state that “Spring water shall be collected only at the spring or through a bore hole tapping the underground formation feeding the spring.” (See excerpts from FDA regulations in Attachment 1). The difference between taking a few gpm of groundwater flowing out of a spring, and pumping hundreds of gpm from a bore hole is significant and will likely always impact the small springs and streams nearby. If a large production well is installed, one is simply drawing in groundwater from the area and the production well can be located out of the sensitive headwater areas of the watershed. For example, the City of Evart community wells are located only a few miles away from PW-1, along the Muskegon River, and are pumping virtually the same water from the same unconfined aquifer. But the potential impacts are much different – the average flow in the Muskegon river is 450,000 gpm, whereas the average flow from a gauge on Twin Creek close to PW-1 is 780 gpm. When a pumped well removes 400 gpm from an unconfined aquifer, the result is a taking of 400 gpm from the springs and streams nearby. The impact is obvious.

So whether you enjoy bottled water or not (I don’t buy it), it is clear to me that Nestle is taking too much of Michigan’s groundwater, in a precarious and sensitive location, for too small a fee. On this bike trip, I travelled along the Muskegon River from Paris to Hersey to Evart to where it crosses Highway M-61 west of Harrison. It is a big, beautiful river, from a big, beautiful watershed that drains a large chunk of Michigan. Groundwater taken close to the Muskegon River minimizes the impact to the watershed, and gets rid of the uncertainty of the computer models. This water could not be labeled Spring Water, but that may be a compromise that the citizens of Michigan would be willing to accept.


Bob Otwell has been a member of the FLOW board since 2013. He is the founder of Otwell Mawby PC, a Traverse City environmental consulting firm. He has degrees in Civil Engineering and has experience in groundwater and surface water hydrology, along with environmental studies and clean-up. Bob did a career switch and was the executive director of TART Trails from 2001 to 2010.

FDA Regulation Excerpts