Tag: Water

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!

 

Nestlé resistance in the Detroit Metro Times

Nestlé has been aiming to pump more water out of Michigan.  Near Evart, the company is attempting to expand and greatly increase the withdrawal amount to 400 gallons per minute, which equates to 576,000 gallons per day.Michael Jackman, from the Detroit Metro Times, writes that there may be “rough water ahead” for Nestlé. Many people are unhappy with their actions. Read more here.

 

Not So Fast Nestlé: A Citizen’s Guide to Oppose Nestlé Water Grab

Bottled water

Nestlé has revived plans to more than double its pumping in Osceola County.

Help FLOW fight Nestlé’s Water Grab: Visit our Crowdrise here to Donate and Share with your network!

 

What’s At Stake

There’s a big fight brewing over water worldwide. From drought-stricken California, to Canada, to Germany and beyond, the Nestlé corporation is one of the key players in a worldwide effort to privatize our finite water resources and then sell it back to us in plastic bottles in and outside the Great Lakes Basin.

In 2009, Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC) ended a 10-year battle with Nestlé/Ice Mountain and won by reducing the amount of water being pumped so that nearby wetlands and streams would not be harmed in Mecosta County. The facts in the MCWC litigation demonstrate how Nestlé underestimated the harm aquifer over-pumping causes to adjacent surface waters, wetlands, fish, and aquatic life. FLOW’s founder and president, Jim Olson, represented MCWC as the lead litigator in this critical battle to safeguard our waters from privatization.

Since 2001, Swiss-owned Nestlé has removed more than 4 billion gallons of groundwater from its three Michigan wells in the Muskegon River watershed for a paltry $200 annual fee per well, according to MDEQ statistics.

Nestlé has now revived plans to more than double its pumping from 150 gallons per minute (gpm) to 400 gpm or 576,000 gallons per day (gpd) in Osceola County just north of Evart, Michigan.  Production Well PWB101, White Pine Springs Site, as it is known, is located between two cold water Muskegon River tributary creeks, Twin and Chippewa Creeks. Last winter, when Nestlé applied for this pumping increase using the state’s computer water withdrawal assessment tool, it failed. Nestle then requested and obtained a site specific review by DEQ staff that showed that only minimal declines in water levels in the summer of 2016.

If approved without full disclosure and public review, Nestlé would only create 20 new jobs, but would legally be entitled to bottle and sell nearly 500 million gallons per year of Michigan water at the Ice Mountain bottling facility in Stanwood, Michigan.

What You Can Do To Help

Please write an email letter to the DEQ at deq-eh@michigan.gov prior to March 3, 2017, and demand the following:

  • Urge the DEQ to oppose Nestlé/Ice Mountain’s current permit application to increase its allowed pumping from 150 to 400 gallons per minute (gpm) from White Pine Springs Well (PW-101), Osceola County, Michigan.
  • Demand the DEQ to set aside its January 2016 site-specific review for lack of public notice and comment;
  • Demand the DEQ complete an entirely new site specific review;
  • Demand the DEQ conduct site specific review on all permits issued to date to avoid incremental steps and registrations by Nestlé (this is in addition to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA);
  • Demand full disclosure and transparency to the public for informed decision-making.
  • Demand sufficient time for independent analysis and public involvement in Nestlé’s recent request.
  • Demand the State to apply the legal standards and requirements set forth in the Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool, riparian reasonable use law, public trust law, Great Lakes Compact, and the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
  • Request multiple public hearings in the following locations: Evart, Detroit, Flint, Muskegon, and Traverse City.

For your reference, we have included a template letter for you to use and craft your own letter.

If you live outside Michigan, we all know that what one state does in the Great Lakes Basin, affects all. As residents in the region, we cannot afford to allow significant increases in water withdrawals without sufficient time for independent analysis and public involvement.

If you live in one of the eight Great Lakes states or the provinces of Quebec and Montreal, we urge you to write your governor/premier prior to the upcoming Compact Council meeting to be held in Columbus, OH on December 8th. Ask that diversions of Great Lakes water in containers less than 5.7 gallons be added to the 2008 Great Lakes Compact.

Please think twice about drinking bottled water. Instead, insist all elected officials make clean, safe drinking water a priority. We can live without a lot of things but water is not one of them.

Template Letter

Governor Rick Snyder
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, Michigan 48909

Attorney General Bill Schuette
G. Mennen Williams Building, 7th Floor
525 West Ottawa Street
P.O. Box 30212
Lansing, Michigan 48909

Director Heidi Grether
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ)
Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance
P.O. Box 30241
Lansing, MI   48909-7741

deq-eh@michigan.gov
miag@michigan.gov  
contactmichigan@state.mi.us
migov@exec.state.mi.us

 

Dear Governor, Attorney General and Director Grether:

I am writing to urge the State of Michigan and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ)  to reject Nestlé/Ice Mountain’s current permit application to more than double its allowed groundwater pumping from 150 to 400 gallons per minute (gpm) from White Pine Springs Well (PW-101) in Osceola County, Michigan.    

The Nestlé application must be denied for the following reasons:

  1. Nestlé has not submitted sufficient critical information on which a determination can be in accordance with the standards set forth in the applicable water laws of Michigan;

  1. the application is administratively and substantively deficient;

  1. the MDEQ and the State do not have sufficient information and have not posted sufficient information from Nestlé for property owners, communities, organizations, and citizens to provide meaningful comment as required by applicable laws and regulations;

  1. Nestlé has not filed its pumping records, and its pumping to date has violated Michigan law because it has pumped and transported water without authorizations required by Section 17 of the Safe Drinking Water Act and the applicable Section 32723 of the state’s water law;

  1. Four hundred (400) gpm will diminish the twin creeks and wetlands, which in turn will impair and harm the water, aquatic resources, and public trust in those natural resources, contrary to Michigan law.

With less than two weeks before the end of the public comment period, the MDEQ sent a letter dated February 14, 2017 to Nestlé that underscores the significant and considerable deficiencies in the record. Missing from the record is information related to the groundwater modeling, streamflow data, fish, macroinvertebrates, and aquatic habitat data, as well as the company’s compliance with Michigan’s reasonable use doctrine and related water laws.

Accordingly, the application as it stands now must be denied for failure to show that its proposed pumping will not harm the creeks, wetlands, streams, species and ecosystem. In addition, Nestlé’s deficient record raises questions as to whether the company received proper authorization in 2015 to increase its pumping from 150 to 250 gpm.

Nestlé’s current expansion request continues to put our public waters at risk because the public does not have adequate information to evaluate the potential harm to our waters. Therefore, at a minimum, the MDEQ should extend the public comment period from March 3 to at least another 60 days (depending on Nestle’s submission of additional information), because of the incomplete administrative and substantive record. This extended timeframe will afford the public adequate time to evaluate and comment on a complete application per the department’s letter. Public comment must include not only written comment, but also statewide public hearings in Evart, Detroit, Flint, Muskegon, and Traverse City.

Nestle’s request is not just a mere isolated groundwater pumping application. Rather, it represents, and must be understood as, part of a much larger water decision for our Great Lake state of Michigan to address. The reality is that 400 gpm (210 million gallons a year) is gone forever from the headwaters of two streams for the marketing convenience of Nestle to put “spring water” on its labels.

This is an ecological disaster that should not be allowed. Remember that Michigan’s 12,000 year old glacial sand, gravel and clay and ancient groundwater is recharged by only 8 or 9 inches a year of precipitation – about 30 percent of an average of 32 inches a year in the form of snowfall and rain during the rainy season. The rest of the year is dry with frequent drought in the summer months such that these headwater streams and creeks simply cannot survive; pumping at Nestlé’s proposed rate is simply not sustainable, and the MDEQ should either deny this outright or put a cap on it of 150 gpm to end the matter.

Water is public. Water is also our most precious finite resource that is the lifeblood of our economy, our health, and our way of life here in the Great Lakes Basin. Privatizing our waters for profit and export outside our watersheds is a legally-defined harm. The State of Michigan as trustee is legally bound, on behalf of current citizens and future generations, to protect this resource from impairment, harm, or privatization for solely private purposes. This is the law.

The question we must ask is: How do the people of Michigan benefit when nearly 500 million gallons per year of our water—one of the planet’s scarcest and finite resources—is given essentially free to a foreign-owned company, sold for a profit, and transported out of the state?

Save for a handful of jobs (20 to be exact) this use of our public waters is not only contrary to law- it simply doesn’t make sense. It is time to put an end to allowing large corporate captures and takings of our interconnected groundwater, streams, rivers, lakes, and Great Lakes, especially when Nestle gets it for free, and sends the profits back to Switzerland.

The nonprofit, FLOW (For Love of Water), intends to submit additional substantive technical and legal comments to the MDEQ related to this permit application.

Thank you for fulfilling your public trust obligations to safeguard our most precious resource – water.

Sincerely,

 

Further Reading

“DEQ sets table for strict review of Nestle water bid” (MLive, Feb. 7, 2017)

“Where will the water go? A snapshot of recent changes in Michigan water law” (Michigan Real Property Review, Winter 2006)

“How Michigan water becomes a product inside Nestle’s Ice Mountain plant” (MLive, Dec. 8, 2016)

“Why Nestle really wants more Michigan groundwater” (MLive, Dec. 6, 2016)

“Public wasn’t adequately notified of Nestle water request, says DEQ director” (MLive, Dec. 5, 2016)

“Flint hits chemical company with $2.6M in fines over industrial waste” (MLive, Dec. 5, 2016)

“DEQ overruled computer model that flunked Nestle groundwater bid” (MLive, Nov. 22, 2016)

“DEQ pushes Nestle groundwater bid public review into next year” (MLive, Nov. 22, 2016)

Water Poet Mike Delp Shares His Latest Work

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“I say water is better than money,”

— Mike Delp, “Mad Angler Speaks Truth to Power,” from Lying in the River’s Dark Bed: The Confluence of the Deadman and the Mad Angler. (Wayne State University Press, 2016).

Mike Delp, the water poet, has shared his poems at readings and on the electronic pages of our webpages in support of FLOW’s work “For Love of Water.” His poems are a testament to water, life, soul, his own personal search over for meaning through a lifetime of waking, fishing, and floating the currents of rivers.  It is an honor to acclaim the release of his new book of poems published this past Spring by Wayne State University’s Press Michigan Writers Series. The title of the work is itself enough to provoke anyone to pick up the book and start reading: Lying in the River’s Dark Bed: The Confluence of the Deadman and the Mad Angler

If you haven’t already met the Mad Angler or Deadman at one of Mike Delp’s readings, you are in for a ride, as if he’s talking to you from behind as you sit in front watching King Fisher or Blue Heron take flight or a fish rise and disappear in front of you while he guides the float boat down the river.  If you have heard him read or read one of these poems rising out of mudflats and riffles in the past several years, this collection is your chance to do so. Let these poems skew your compass and shake loose the sediments  in your heart and mind. Here are a few lines from just a few of the poems in this new collection.

 

“You pray for a second coming, the sky to open,
for people to be carried off, raptured.
I pray each morning for entire counties to vanish,
the boardrooms of Big Water and Big Oil to warp out of existence.”

–” Psalms of the Mad Angler”

 

“Deadman treats words like road kill,
runs them down, stops,
rolls backward and forward,
over and over.
After he flattens thousands of words,
he thinks he has invented a new language.
He writes a book,
says,
‘Here read this
it will kill you.'”

— “Deadman as Writer”

“I trust only the sweet smell of rotting cedar,
the scent of mudbanks festering with nymphs,
rivers rising in my blood like an illness,
a fever sent by the god of desire to make his presence known,
something jolting through the veins to replace
the done deal, the raise with the corner  office,
the soul trader you most likely have become.”

— “The Mad Angler’s Manifesto”

Take the plunge, float the rapids, swirl in the eddy, join the confluence where Deadman meets the Mad Angler in this collection of poems.

Some Thoughts for the New Year: Common Home and Common Principles – Living and Working for the Common Good

 

Jim Olson FLOW Founder

 

 

By Jim Olson

President, FLOW For Love of Water, Traverse City

Attorney, Olson, Bzdok & Howard, P.C., Traverse City

 

 

 

 

When I look back over the past year, I can’t help but feel hope in the common goodness of people and communities.

I say this not without heart felt and serious concern about events in the world that point in the opposite direction – despair: increasing violence from guns, war, and sweeping droughts and floods, causing death and dislocation of millions of people and children, global warming and the push-back from unprecedented storms and extreme weather that compound drought, floods, landslides, which in turn destabilize countries like Syria fomenting conflict and conditions for ISIS. To paraphrase Circle of Blue senior journalist Keith Schneider, “The earth is angry and she’s fighting back.”

Closer to home, Detroit water shut-offs continue despite the devastating impact on the poor who can’t afford to pay a normal water bill, let alone the $100 a month or more claimed by the Detroit Water Board. State leaders finally stop denying the Flint water-crisis more than a year after residents demanded help, that its children and residents were exposed to high levels of lead from the city’s public water system. The problem is more endemic than Detroit or Flint, since both crises grew out of the unbridled power of Governor Snyder’s emergency manager law to usurp the power of city assets and revenues to pay debts regardless of the impacts to citizens. Flint’s emergency manager thought only of economic expediency in turning off water supplied from Detroit, and tapping into the filthy, polluted Flint River. Then there is the continual threat from the flow of oil in the aging, nearly 63-year old Line 5 pipeline under the Straits; the harm from a release or leak would be so catastrophic, the risk is unacceptable to everyone; yet the flow of oil continues without immediate temporary measures while state officials continue to study it as if it was an “issue,” and not the clear and imminent endangerment of the Great Lakes and the Straits of Mackinac – the fact is there is enough capacity within the pipeline system in the Great Lakes without Line 5 endangering the Straits.

So why the hope? Other events have happened this past year that point to a new way of understanding and, perhaps, solving many of the threats that we face in the world and our communities.

First, Pope Francis issued his encyclical on climate change and the environment, connecting the reality of our excessive consumptive materialism, global inequality, poverty, ecological and community devastation, and violence that follows. He carefully documented that our way of seeing and doing, our post-modern god of the law of free markets and legally justified greed, our fragmented attempts at dishing out money to help the poor are not working. He says this because we are living a material, market place illusion, and not in harmony with the reality that the earth is our “common home,” and that if we do not share its gifts and respect its inherent natural limits, earth’s water, weather, soil, and the biological diversity on which all life depends will continue to worsen to even greater extremes. He points to a new paradigm, a framework in which we work and live with the understanding that a body of water, whether ocean, Grand Traverse Bay, or Lake Chad, are a commons, part of the gift of earth as commons to all. If we do this, not only with water, but the ridge lines and forests, the beauty and land that are home to our relationships, our cities, the neighborhoods within our towns, the soils beneath our feet, the air we breathe, then we will begin to reshape our life around truth and the given limits of nature, and this will guide our living, our way of life, or economy, full and rich with newly directed creative and sustainable opportunities and entrepreneur ship.

Second, amidst a world of conflicts, from Syria to the Ukraine, from our own cities, to Nigeria, Sudan, and Afghanistan, and in the aftermath of the mass murders from extreme terrorists in Parrs, the nations of the world cooperated: leaders of large and small, developed and developing, or undeveloped countries, recognized the responsibility to each other, agreed to something, the world temperature will not rise more 2 degrees, and maybe less. While it is not law yet, if taken implemented, it will help stave off global calamity greater than two world wars last century, by reducing the irreparable damage we face from climate change and global warming. There is hope in the agreement that we stop denying and see the mounting harm and set a goal that through hard-work and common sacrifice offers a way out of an unthinkable alternative for people everywhere.

Third, we witnessed the bridging of differences by our Supreme Court in precedent setting cases that demand human dignity for marriage between two people, human rights to housing and water for the poor without access, as wells as the genuine search for a common goal to address wasteful and harmful water rights in the middle of the historical California droughts.

Fourth, our political debate heating up even before the 2016 presidential election has pointed to something more than the old, increasingly polarized beliefs in market economy, through money at wars and problems, rather than considering the root of the problem might be the way we are looking at them. Regardless of my own or others’ political persuasion, there is a fresh voice in Bernie Sanders, laying out the case for a community based on sharing of wealth, taking care of neighbors, and our neighborhood, what Pope Francis calls our “common home,” and at the same time helping with services to the poor, respecting and honoring diversity, and encouraging new business innovation. We have been trapped in this country in a red and blue, right and left, straight-jacket of false ideology, rather than identifying those things that are essential to every one of us and providing for them as principle of our country—the common good.

Fifth, then Michael Moore comes out with his latest film Where to Invade Next? Good God, here we have the message that we here in the USA had the idea, come up with the ideas, of common good, yet go in the opposite direction of individualized competition based on a law of the jungle called free markets. Everything is about profit and money and bottom line. The world is not a corporation, it is a commons in which corporations organizations are simply a means, not an end.

Do we really have a choice? Our common home and communities are simultaneously local and global. It’s not just act locally, think globally, or act globally, think locally. It’s all of this and more. If we don’t act, for example, on climate change, or understand that climate change is not just an energy issue but about water and food, if we don’t move toward a renewable economy within a few years, small island countries will literally disappear, rainforests and biodiversity will disappear, coastal cities and other areas will increasingly flood and fail from even more extreme storm events or the day-to-day failure to change, adapt and embrace resilient cooperation—the common good. All one has to do is read through “4 Degrees Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience,” a report published by renown scientists and even sponsored by the more conservative World Bank. The picture is not pretty, and it would it is ignorant, even immoral, at this time in history not to act, even out of self-interest, for this common good.

So I end this year and start the next with hope. At FLOW, the Great Lakes and Water Policy Center, here in Traverse City, and other organizations throughout the region, we have chosen as a mission and goal to protect the waters of the Great Lakes basin as a commons with principles, known as the public trust doctrine, that require government as trustee and people as beneficiaries, to work together to respect and protect water and community that depend on it from impairment. Private control of public waters and other public commons has always been prohibited; this is because some things essential to all of us are common to all of us. If we don’t protect the commons, we undermine the air, water, community and neighborhoods where we live. To work and live toward the common good is to work for the commons and at the same time work for yourself, family and friends. To not work for the common good, is to continue the long, slow, or perhaps not so slow, disintegration that leads to destruction of the earth, water, air, community, people, and leads to a world violent and unsafe.

It is hopeful and reassuring to see positive events pointing toward this new way of seeing, understanding and doing – living and working for the protection and sustainability of our common home and the common good. They are one and the same. Here’s to another hopeful New Year.

 

 

 

As Long as Oil Flows through the Straits Pipelines, the Great Lakes Remain at Unacceptable Risk

The Great Lakes are no safer from an oil pipeline spill today despite yesterday’s release of the State of Michigan Pipeline Task Force’s 80-page report and recommendations.

The Task Force report included four recommendations directed at Enbridge’s twin 62-year-old petroleum pipelines located on the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac: (1) Ban transportation of heavy crude oil through the Straits pipelines; (2) Require an independent risk analysis and full insurance coverage for the pipelines; (3) Require an independent analysis of alternatives to the existing pipelines; (4) Obtain more inspection data from Enbridge relating to the pipelines.

Yet, oil still flows through Line 5.  The Task Force rejected shutting down Line 5 while gathering additional information on the basis that they had “inadequate information at this time to fully evaluate the risks presented by the Straits Pipelines.” (P. 57)

Impose Emergency Measures Immediately

At a minimum, however, the Task Force should impose immediate emergency measures on the pipeline given (1) potential violations of the 1953 Easement related to Enbridge’s inability to demonstrate that it has adequate liability coverage to cover all damages from an oil spill; (2) the Coast Guard’s admission that it is inadequately prepared to clean up an open water spill in freshwater let alone under frozen winter conditions; (3) Enbridge’s failure to disclose inspection, maintenance, and repair records to document internal and external corrosion rates under the Straits and inherent limitations related to inline inspection tools.

The question remains: how much more information do we need to unveil before our trustee – the State – takes swift protective action that prioritizes the paramount interests of citizens over private corporations?

The Task Force and the public have rejected the idea that the Straits Pipelines can last indefinitely.  In fact, the Attorney General Bill Schuette has declared that “the days of letting two controversial oil pipelines operate under the Straits of Mackinac are numbered.”  This is hopeful news, but every day counts, and until we have specific measures in place that prevent a catastrophic spill, the State of Michigan is placing the Great Lakes at risk.

Yes: Ohio farmers’ harvest depend on healthy waters, Toledo Blade

A great article from the Blade, a Toledo newspaper, was just published which supports the need for a strong “waters of the US” rule under the Clean Water Act. This rule would insure that wetlands and tributary waters of the Great Lakes are not diminished, impaired, and the Great Lakes ecosystem and waters are not damaged. The article reminds us all that we share in the stewardship of the lakes, and that we should all strive to secure a safe and healthy future for our waters. Read more here.

In the spring, the U.S. EPA and Army Corps of Engineers issued a rule to clarify Clean Water Act Protections to wetlands and streams. The rule, also known as the Waters of the United States rule, has not yet been finalized. Since the EPA introduced the rule last spring it has been under attack from many sources, including the Farm Bureau. The rule is needed to clarify the extent of the Clean Water Act, helping to protect small waterways and streams whose protection is currently uncertain.

Thanks to the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition (HOW Coalition) for sharing and supporting such an important issue!

UpNorthLive: Canadian power company proposes nuclear dump site near lake

Click here to read the article on upnorthlive.com

By Meghan Morelli

GRAND TRAVERSE CO. — Grand Traverse County commissioners are discussing a resolution that’s making its way around the state to stop a Canadian power company from potentially causing harm to the Great Lakes.

The resolution started with commissioners in Alger, Munising in the Upper Peninsula.  The purpose of the resolution is to stop the company from building an underground nuclear waste facility in Ontario.

The potential facility would be built on the site of the Bruce Power Plant, the largest nuclear facility in the world.  That site sits less than one mile from the Lake Huron shoreline.

The company would like to store low and intermediate level waste there, but those against it say it could drastically impact the Great Lakes that make up 21 percent of the world’s fresh water supply.

For Love of Water, FLOW, a Great Lakes water law and policy center says they’re behind the resolution to stop the company from doing this.

FLOW Executive Director, Liz Kirkwood, says it could have serious negative impacts on our drinking water and the ecosystem in the Great Lakes.

“It could contaminate this water supply that is the basis for our entire economy, fisheries, recreation, and drinking water,” said Kirkwood.

Kirkwood says there has never been a nuclear waste site like this on U.S. territory.

According to FLOW, the Michigan Senate unanimously passed a bill in resolution against this proposal earlier this month.  Senator Debbie Stabenow is also behind the resolution.

Grand Traverse County Administrator, Dave Benda, says he doesn’t expect that any action will be taken on the issue during Wednesday’s commission meeting.

Intern Adventures: Courtney Hammer

Hello! My name is Courtney Hammer, and I am thrilled to be spending twelve weeks this summer up in the beautiful Traverse City, Michigan interning with FLOW (For Love of Water). I was raised down south in Roswell, Georgia, but Traverse City is home away from home for me, as I have vacationed up here every summer visiting my grandparents, relatives, and friends.

courtney hammer flow internI will be a senior at Michigan State University this fall. My family bleeds green and white, so I have been a Spartan since birth. I am in the James Madison College at MSU majoring in Comparative Cultures and Politics. I am also working towards a minor in Spanish and a Science, Technology, Environment, and Public Policy Specialization. Throughout my time at MSU, I have been a member of the varsity women’s soccer team.

Over the next few months I will be applying to law schools, and the plan is to start that next chapter of my life in the fall of 2015. I am passionate about both the environment and human rights, so I want to do something that involves an intersection of those two areas.

At FLOW, I am helping out with research and writing projects for our variety of programs, especially concerning nutrient pollution, and I am assisting Jim Olson with the curriculum development for the Water Policy and Sustainability (for the 21st Century) course he will teach at Northwestern Michigan College this fall. I have already learned a tremendous amount about the endless applicability of the public trust doctrine and just how vital of an overarching legal tool it is for the Great Lakes and environmental policies at large. For instance, I have specifically seen how it should impact local government capabilities with fracking and the State’s regulation of the Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac. Additionally, with nutrient pollution, I have learned just how crucial it is in terms of enforcing best management practices to mitigate both agricultural and stormwater runoff.

That is just a snippet of who I am and what I have been doing at FLOW. I am excited to see what the rest of the summer has in store for me!

Record-Eagle Editorial: NMC can help create a future water agenda

Click here to read the editorial in The Record Eagle. AND Click here to read the feature article from the Record-Eagle.

By: Record-Eagle Editor

June 19, 2014

If you want to study volcanoes, you go to Hawaii. If you’re going to study fresh water policy, Traverse City and Northwestern Michigan College’s Great Lakes Water Studies Institute are naturals.

NMC also is home to one of the few college-based maritime programs in the country and sits right on Grand Traverse Bay and a few short miles to Lake Michigan.

Now NMC is ramping up its water expertise through a new course titled “Water Policy and Sustainability” that represents a new alliance with the Traverse City-based advocacy group FLOW — For Love of Water —- and its founder, Jim Olson.

Olson is an attorney with the firm Olson, Bzdok and Howard and a recognized expert in environmental and water law and policy. He co-designed and will co-teach the course.

Olson said the course will look at water policy from a historical and current policy perspective and “then build upon the history and present water laws and policy to ask the question: Are we ready for what’s coming in the 21st Century?”

The future is what matters here. In Michigan, there can be no bigger issue than fresh water. It is our greatest asset and its value will only increse. How we prepare ourselves to protect that asset through sound policy and robust laws could determine our future.

Olson says water is “common to all of us and that imposes limits on what we must do to preserve it from one generation to the next.”

Preserving the resource likely includes fending off — or at least controlling — efforts from outside the Great Lakes watershed to tap into what appears to be an unlimited resource that could all too quickly look all too limited.

Water Studies Institute education coordinator Constanza Hazelwood said the course is part of an effort to expand the Institute’s global policy curriculum. Any talk about water policy must be global to matter.

NMC has an opportunity to become a leader in future debates over water policy and to set the agenda. We as a state and nation need to learn how to talk about water and how to protect — and share — the asset.

NMC, Olson and FLOW all bring different skills and perspectives to the debate, and all three need to be heard.