Blog Posts

Archive

  • Where Does Michigan Go from Here on Leaking Septic Systems?

    Where Does Michigan Go from Here on Leaking Septic Systems?

    Can Michigan’s governance system succeed in solving one of our state’s worst water pollution problems? That’s the key question in the wake of FLOW’s Michigan Septic Summit in Traverse City on November 6. Attended by more than 150 people representing diverse points of view, the summit demonstrated that there is …Read More »
  • FLOW Welcomes Development Director Diane Dupuis and New Board Members Brett Fessell and Douglas Jester

    FLOW Welcomes Development Director Diane Dupuis and New Board Members Brett Fessell and Douglas Jester

    FLOW (For Love of Water) is excited to announce that Diane Dupuis started earlier this month as our new Development Director. Diane works to connect FLOW with resources that can help fuel our work of safeguarding the Great Lakes for all.Read More »
  • Michigan Septic Summit Draws Packed Crowd to Traverse City

    Michigan Septic Summit Draws Packed Crowd to Traverse City

    Above: Nature Change’s Joe VanderMeulen and FLOW’s Liz Kirkwood welcome attendees to the Michigan Septic Summit on Nov. 6, 2019, at Northwestern Michigan College’s Hagerty Center in Traverse City. All photos by Rick Kane. We really didn’t know what the level of public interest would be when FLOW started working …Read More »
  • The Multifaceted Benefits of Regulation for the Economy and Environment

    The Multifaceted Benefits of Regulation for the Economy and Environment

    This article is excerpted from the third of four policy briefs by former FLOW board chair, and former director of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth, Skip Pruss, that make the economic case for government’s role in protecting the environment.Read More »
  • Carrying on Governor Milliken’s Environmental Legacy

    Carrying on Governor Milliken’s Environmental Legacy

    FLOW gratefully acknowledges the Milliken family’s suggestion that memorial donations in Governor William Milliken’s name be made to FLOW and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. We will carry on the Milliken legacy of environmental stewardship and hope for the future.Read More »
  • Remembering Governor William Milliken, Protector of Michigan’s Environmental Soul

    Remembering Governor William Milliken, Protector of Michigan’s Environmental Soul

    A great tree has fallen. On Friday, October 18, former Michigan Governor William G. Milliken passed away at age 97 in Traverse City. The longest-serving governor in the history of Michigan, Milliken distinguished himself in numerous other ways, several of which seem especially important today.Read More »
  • FLOW and Partners Hosting “Michigan Septic Summit” on November 6 in Traverse City

    FLOW and Partners Hosting “Michigan Septic Summit” on November 6 in Traverse City

    FLOW and several community partners will host the Michigan Septic Summit on Wednesday, November 6, at the Hagerty Conference Center in Traverse City. The public event aims to protect fresh water and public health from uncontrolled septic pollution. The one-day conference runs from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. and costs $25 …Read More »
  • Hot Off the Presses: Keeping Water Public and the World from Burning

    Hot Off the Presses: Keeping Water Public and the World from Burning

    Thanks to Maude Barlow, Meera Karunananthan, Emma Lui at the Council of Canadians, the Blue Planet Project, the World Social Forum, and the dedication of so many other individuals and organizations, the United Nations in 2010 declared in successive resolutions that water is a human right.Read More »
  • Remembering Lee Botts – A Faithful Friend of the Great Lakes

    Remembering Lee Botts – A Faithful Friend of the Great Lakes

    When Lee Botts died October 5 at age 91, the Great Lakes lost one of their best—and most faithful and effective—friends. Although perhaps not well known in Michigan, Lee was a legend in the Great Lakes environmental community. She not only made our freshwater seas far better because of her …Read More »
  • Recognizing Indigenous Peoples’  Day and Respecting Water

    Recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day and Respecting Water

    By JoAnne Cook Indigenous Peoples’ Day (October 14 this year) has become a day of recognition to the Anishinaabek and has replaced Columbus Day in some communities. This recognition comes because we are the first people of this earth. Although many believe Columbus discovered this land, there were many visitors to …Read More »
  • Art Meets Water: FLOW’s Campaign to Celebrate Creative Expression and Freshwater Stewardship

    Art Meets Water: FLOW’s Campaign to Celebrate Creative Expression and Freshwater Stewardship

    Art meets water. Creative expression holds hands and swims with freshwater stewardship. Breathtaking, life-sustaining water inspires art, and that art propels us to protect the Great Lakes. The stillness, waves, clarity, and reflection of water give rise to poetry, music, paintings, dance, letters, and more. It’s a swirling, symbiotic, cyclical …Read More »
  • FLOW, City of Mackinac Island Join Legal Fight on Invalidity of Existing Line 5 and Proposed Oil Tunnel under Great Lakes

    FLOW, City of Mackinac Island Join Legal Fight on Invalidity of Existing Line 5 and Proposed Oil Tunnel under Great Lakes

    The Michigan Court of Claims has issued orders accepting FLOW’s and the City of Mackinac Island’s amicus briefs advancing key legal arguments in Enbridge’s Line 5 oil tunnel lawsuit against the State, rejecting opposing arguments by the Canadian oil pipeline company. The ruling in Lansing by Judge Michael Kelly in …Read More »
  • Gov. Whitmer, Michigan Legislature Agree on Funding for Clean Water

    Gov. Whitmer, Michigan Legislature Agree on Funding for Clean Water

    Although budget talks between Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the state Legislature are strained at best — as the two sides appear deadlocked over road funding — it does appear her request for significant one-time funding for clean water for the fiscal year 2020 starting October 1 will survive the …Read More »
  • Faceoff over Farm Runoff Heads to Iowa Court

    Faceoff over Farm Runoff Heads to Iowa Court

    The foot-dragging by public officials to take action against deadly algal blooms and pollution from bad farming practices finally has reached a tipping point. Food and Water Watch, a national public interest organization, and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement have teamed up in Des Moines to file a lawsuit to …Read More »
  • It’s Septic Smart Week

    It’s Septic Smart Week

    Most Michiganders don’t know that September 16-20 is Septic Smart Week — and that an estimated 130,000 septic systems in our state are failing. In many cases that means sewage and associated microorganisms are reaching groundwater, lakes and streams.Read More »
  • Lake Erie: Clean It Up or Admit It’s a Sacrifice Zone

    Lake Erie: Clean It Up or Admit It’s a Sacrifice Zone

    It’s been five years since the August 2014 bloom that contaminated Toledo’s water supply for a weekend, leaving half a million without drinking water — an event that many compared to the 1969 fire on the Cuyahoga River at Cleveland. Where’s the outrage and action now? All we have to …Read More »
  • Government Must Protect the Great Lakes, our Greatest Source of Natural Capital

    Government Must Protect the Great Lakes, our Greatest Source of Natural Capital

    Michigan lies at the heart of the Great Lakes, the largest fresh surface water system in the world. Harboring 95 percent of all fresh surface water in United States and 84 percent of all fresh surface water in North America, the Lakes are an enormous source of natural capital, providing direct …Read More »
  • Line 5 Poses On-land Explosion Risk for Michigan Residents

    Line 5 Poses On-land Explosion Risk for Michigan Residents

    On August 1, a natural gas pipeline operated by an Enbridge subsidiary exploded in Kentucky. The blast killed one person, injured six others, and blew 30 feet of pipeline out of the ground, resulting in a crater that is 50 feet long, 35 feet wide and 13 feet deep. About …Read More »
  • Natural Capital and the Value of Ecological Services

    Natural Capital and the Value of Ecological Services

    The natural world provides a continuous stream of abundant, valuable goods and services. Air, water, soil, flora, and fauna upon which we all depend are relentlessly harvested, used, and abused without an appreciation of our dependency upon this natural capital and the value we derived from it. Nature-based capital, when unimpaired …Read More »
  • In Honor of Ted Curran: Friend and Founding Board Member of FLOW

    In Honor of Ted Curran: Friend and Founding Board Member of FLOW

    Ted Curran and his wife Marcia walked into my life and FLOW’s life during the fight by the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC) for the soul of Michigan’s public water and the Great Lakes in its lawsuit against bottled water-giant Nestlé. Ted became a stalwart supporter of FLOW during …Read More »
  • Swine CAFO Threatens Environment, Public Health along Lake Michigan Shoreline

    Swine CAFO Threatens Environment, Public Health along Lake Michigan Shoreline

    Public notice in a local newspaper in October 2017 announced a permit application for a mammoth swine factory near the Oceana/Muskegon County line along Lake Michigan. Called a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO), this proposed pollution factory activated our resistance. Reviving Our American Democracy (ROAD) is a White Lake Area public …Read More »
  • Digging a Hole for Future Generations

    Digging a Hole for Future Generations

    After a brief rally outside with many participants wearing black t-shirts saying, “No Line 5 Oil Tunnel,” dozens of people this morning (August 21) overflowed the meeting room and lobby of the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners in Traverse City. In all, 54 residents spoke out for the next …Read More »
  • Call to Action: Ban Balloon Releases that Kill Birds and Other Wildlife

    Call to Action: Ban Balloon Releases that Kill Birds and Other Wildlife

    Every day, balloons and balloon ribbons and strings are discovered littering the waters and shorelines of the Great Lakes. Between 2016 and 2018, volunteers with the Alliance for the Great Lakes picked up more than 18,000 pieces of balloon debris during coastal cleanups. Latex balloons also burst into small pieces that are …Read More »
  • Déjà Vu: PFAS are Latest in Long Line of Failed Chemical Policies

    Déjà Vu: PFAS are Latest in Long Line of Failed Chemical Policies

    The discovery of toxic per or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in many Michigan locations, the fear and concern these chemicals have stirred, and the difficulty posed to government officials and the public on how to respond feel familiar to those residents 50 and over. PFAS are just the latest symbols of …Read More »
  • Resetting Expectations: the Value of Natural Systems and Government’s Role in Protecting Water

    Resetting Expectations: the Value of Natural Systems and Government’s Role in Protecting Water

    This is the second of four reports by former FLOW board chair, and former director of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth, Skip Pruss that make the economic case for government’s role in protecting the environment. FLOW will unveil the last two reports in the coming months.Read More »
  • Line 5’s Failing Design – Anchor Supports, Anchor Strikes, and the Rising Risk of an Oil Spill Disaster in the Great Lakes

    Line 5’s Failing Design – Anchor Supports, Anchor Strikes, and the Rising Risk of an Oil Spill Disaster in the Great Lakes

    The disclosure by Enbridge that 81 feet of Line 5 has been undermined by powerful currents and is slumping points to something far more serious—and dangerous: The 66-year-old dual pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac are failing and also at risk of rupture from a ship’s anchor drag that hooks and …Read More »
  • No ‘Line 5’ Oil Tunnel in the Great Lakes!

    No ‘Line 5’ Oil Tunnel in the Great Lakes!

    Confronted at 8 a.m. on a Wednesday by a full audience passionately and unanimously against a proposed Line 5 oil tunnel in the Straits of Mackinac, the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners voted today to temporary table a misguided and error-filled resolution supporting the oil tunnel. (Click here to …Read More »
  • The Climate Crisis and Sea-sawing Great Lakes Water Levels

    The Climate Crisis and Sea-sawing Great Lakes Water Levels

    The IJC heard concerns for threats to the Great Lakes when it visited Traverse City on July 24: Enbridge Line 5, nuclear waste storage, invasive species, bottled water, plastics and privatization, and harmful algal blooms. But the most threatening concern, one that drives or is exacerbated by the others, was the …Read More »
  • FLOW’s Two-Pronged Proposal to the IJC for an Emergency Pilot Study and Urgent Action to Address the Effects of Climate Change

    FLOW’s Two-Pronged Proposal to the IJC for an Emergency Pilot Study and Urgent Action to Address the Effects of Climate Change

    FLOW on July 24 formally submitted a recommendation to the International Join Commission that calls for an emergency pilot study and urgent action to address the effects of climate change.Read More »
  • International Joint Commission appoints Kirkwood to Great Lakes Water Quality Board

    International Joint Commission appoints Kirkwood to Great Lakes Water Quality Board

    The International Joint Commission (IJC) has appointed Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director of FLOW, to a three-year term on the Great Lakes Water Quality Board. Kirkwood will fill a seat set aside for nonprofit environmental organizations.Read More »
  • If Line 5 Ruptures, Shut Mackinac Island Water System, Evacuate Everyone

    If Line 5 Ruptures, Shut Mackinac Island Water System, Evacuate Everyone

    The Mackinac Islanders who attended FLOW's sixth annual Community Update on Line 5 at Community Hall were an economically and politically diverse crowd. What united them was a concern over Line 5, and a desire to learn how FLOW and tribal representatives, lawyers, and risk experts are educating the public …Read More »
  • Beach Cleanups Protect Water and Health and Raise Awareness

    Beach Cleanups Protect Water and Health and Raise Awareness

    Many of our Michigan beaches are sullied by refuse and littered with food wrappers, soggy cigarette butts, and small plastic pieces of mysterious origin. Whether littered on-site or carried from elsewhere in the watershed, unsanitary garbage on our coasts puts-off beach-goers and infringes upon the public’s right to enjoy the …Read More »
  • The Thirsty Buffalo

    The Thirsty Buffalo

    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 …Read More »
  • Michigan Groundwater Expert Distills Lessons of a Career

    Michigan Groundwater Expert Distills Lessons of a Career

    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 …Read More »
  • Shaping Niagara Falls: Engineers, Hydropower, and Sustainability

    Shaping Niagara Falls: Engineers, Hydropower, and Sustainability

    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 …Read More »
  • Reflections on Independence – Liberty, Water, and the Public Trust Doctrine

    Reflections on Independence – Liberty, Water, and the Public Trust Doctrine

    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 …Read More »
  • New State Funding Gives Boost to Recycling

    New State Funding Gives Boost to Recycling

    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.Read More »
  • The Detroit River’s Waterfront Porch

    The Detroit River’s Waterfront Porch

    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 …Read More »
  • The Changing Great Lakes: Living with Fluctuating Water Levels

    The Changing Great Lakes: Living with Fluctuating Water Levels

    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 …Read More »
  • The Public Trust and YOU

    The Public Trust and YOU

    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.Read More »
  • Picnics with Less Plastic

    Picnics with Less Plastic

    In celebration of the Traverse City Cherry Festival and the warm days ahead, we wanted to highlight one of our favorite summer activities. For many, picnicking in a park or near Lake Michigan is a summer tradition. In keeping with our #getoffthebottle campaign and dedication to reducing our single-use plastic …Read More »
  • Attorney General Nessel, Governor Whitmer Take Bold Legal Actions to Shut Down Line 5 and Apply Rule of Law

    Attorney General Nessel, Governor Whitmer Take Bold Legal Actions to Shut Down Line 5 and Apply Rule of Law

    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.Read More »
  • Lack of Septic Maintenance Requirements Threatens Michigan Public Health

    Lack of Septic Maintenance Requirements Threatens Michigan Public Health

    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 …Read More »
  • Fact Check: When Line 5 Shuts Down, Detroit Jets Will Still Fly and Union Refinery Jobs Will Still Exist

    Fact Check: When Line 5 Shuts Down, Detroit Jets Will Still Fly and Union Refinery Jobs Will Still Exist

    Exploiting worker and community fears with bogus claims is the latest in a series of unconscionable tactics deployed by Enbridge to pressure Michigan officials into letting the company occupy the Straits with its current antiquated Line 5 pipeline and later, a tunnel under the lakebed.Read More »
  • Resetting Expectations: Government’s Role in Protecting Human Health and the Environment

    Resetting Expectations: Government’s Role in Protecting Human Health and the Environment

    Why Good Regulations are Good for our Great Lakes This is the first of four reports by former FLOW board chair, and former director of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth, Skip Pruss that make the economic case for government’s role in protecting the environment. FLOW will …Read More »
  • Mike Vickery chairs, Lisa Wyatt Knowlton joins FLOW Board

    Mike Vickery chairs, Lisa Wyatt Knowlton joins FLOW Board

    Mike Vickery recently became Chair of the Board of Directors at FLOW (For Love of Water), the nonprofit Great Lakes law and policy center based in Traverse City. Vickery is an advisor on strategic environmental communication, community engagement, and organizational capacity building. He is an Emeritus professor of Communication, Public …Read More »
  • Wisconsin Judge Upholds Foxconn Decision, Undermining the ‘Compact’ Designed to Prevent Great Lakes Diversions

    Wisconsin Judge Upholds Foxconn Decision, Undermining the ‘Compact’ Designed to Prevent Great Lakes Diversions

    By Jim Olson, FLOW President and Founder In a major ruling involving the Great Lakes Compact, a Wisconsin administrative law judge (ALJ) has upheld a decision by the State of Wisconsin to authorize a major diversion of Lake Michigan water primarily to benefit a single customer, the Foxconn Corporation, a …Read More »
  • Actress Amy Smart and writer and producer Geoff Johns urge Michigan Gov. Whitmer to protect our Great Lakes and shut down ‘Line 5’

    Actress Amy Smart and writer and producer Geoff Johns urge Michigan Gov. Whitmer to protect our Great Lakes and shut down ‘Line 5’

      Actress Amy Smart and comic book writer, screenwriter, and film and television producer Geoff Johns urge Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer to protect our Great Lakes and shut down Enbridge’s Line 5 oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac, where Lake Michigan meets Lake Huron. Amy: Hi, I’m Amy Smart. …Read More »
  • Enbridge Attempts to Resuscitate a Terminally Flawed ‘Line 5’ Oil Tunnel Deal

    Enbridge Attempts to Resuscitate a Terminally Flawed ‘Line 5’ Oil Tunnel Deal

    By Jim Olson, FLOW President and Founder The lawsuit filed by Enbridge in the Michigan Court of Claims on Thursday, June 6, is an attempt to resuscitate a Line 5 oil tunnel law and related agreements that are so riddled with entanglements by the former Governor Snyder Administration with Enbridge, …Read More »
  • Walking the Water Line — a Legal Right, But Difficult as  Great Lakes Levels Rise

    Walking the Water Line — a Legal Right, But Difficult as Great Lakes Levels Rise

    Pack away those dreams of walking miles from bay to bay along the shores of Lake Michigan this summer—unless you want to get wet, that is—reports Linda Dewey for the Glen Arbor Sun. The U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the public’s right to walk the Great Lakes shoreline in February when …Read More »
  • The Latest on ‘Line 5’

    The Latest on ‘Line 5’

    By Liz Kirkwood MACKINAC ISLAND, Michigan – The biggest news coming from the Mackinac Policy Conference held here this week wasn’t even listed on the official agenda. Instead, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel made headlines in interviews conducted on the margins of the main affair. Nessel’s message: She intends ASAP …Read More »
  • DDT: The 50th Anniversary Everyone Forgot

    DDT: The 50th Anniversary Everyone Forgot

    Photo: Michigan State University ornithologist George Wallace By Dave Dempsey Engulfed in a mammoth chemical crisis involving a family of chemicals known as PFAS, Michigan has something to learn from a 50th anniversary that passed unnoticed last month.  In April 1969, Michigan became the first state to effectively ban DDT. It …Read More »
  • In Praise of Lana Pollack

    In Praise of Lana Pollack

    By Dave Dempsey Today, after nine years of service on the International Joint Commission (IJC), Michigan’s Lana Pollack steps down as chair of the U.S. Section.  It’s a milestone in a career of public service spanning 40 years. In her role on the IJC, Lana has been a forceful voice for environmental protection and government transparency …Read More »
  • ‘Line 5’ Threat to Great Lakes Won’t Be Solved By Proposed Anchor Rules

    ‘Line 5’ Threat to Great Lakes Won’t Be Solved By Proposed Anchor Rules

    “Let’s be clear: the ‘Line 5’ oil spill threat to Great Lakes won’t be solved by emergency anchor rules that Gov. Whitmer called for today," said Liz Kirkwood, executive director of FLOW. "The real solution to the threat of Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac is to shut it down now."Read More »
  • A Unifying Message: Get Involved! Show up! We’re all in this together!

    A Unifying Message: Get Involved! Show up! We’re all in this together!

    Today FLOW board member and Green Elk Rapids (GreenER) co-founder Royce Ragland will be inducted into the Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame. The recognition is for a variety of environmental accomplishments, including most recently her work in promoting the Village of Elk Rapids as a statewide environmental leader.Read More »
  • Don’t Do It in the River

    Don’t Do It in the River

    Photo: A lack of septic regulations can lead to waste in our treasured waters. You wouldn’t “do it in the river,” would you? By Dave Dempsey Michigan prides itself on being an environmental leader, particularly in curbing water pollution. But in one area of water policy, Michigan is dead last …Read More »
  • A Mother’s Day Letter to My Children

    A Mother’s Day Letter to My Children

    Dear Ones, Every Mother’s Day, I take a walk along the lake. Some years, blue waters mirror blue skies, scattering light across small waves. I find myself stopping a lot on those walks, head tilted toward the sun. I feel it all: warmth, joy, awed gratitude for you three babies …Read More »
  • Michigan Citizens, Tribe Challenge State Permit for Nestlé’s Water Grab

    Michigan Citizens, Tribe Challenge State Permit for Nestlé’s Water Grab

    By Jim Olson I don’t mean to dampen the joy of spring in Michigan, but amidst headlines over Line 5 and unconscionable groundwater contamination from PFAS, we need to embolden our governor, our state officials, and every citizen who cares about water, justice, and the rule of law to join another battle. We need to …Read More »
  • A ‘Line 5’ Oil Tunnel Won’t Protect the Great Lakes from Enbridge, Climate Change

    A ‘Line 5’ Oil Tunnel Won’t Protect the Great Lakes from Enbridge, Climate Change

    Above: FLOW’s Liz Kirkwood speaking in opposition to a proposed oil tunnel in the Straits of Mackinac, during a November 8, 2018, hearing in St. Ignace. In the world of public relations, there are facts, exaggerations, and untruths. Right now, Enbridge is bombarding the people of Michigan with hazy PR claims …Read More »
  • With Michigan’s Trout Opener on Tap, An Angler Reflects on Coalition-Building to Protect Coldwater

    With Michigan’s Trout Opener on Tap, An Angler Reflects on Coalition-Building to Protect Coldwater

    The Crown Jewel Saturday is the opening day of the trout fishing season, a high holy holiday to those of us who love to cast a fly in Michigan’s coldwater rivers and streams. I’ll be knee deep in the Holy Waters section of the Au Sable River by 10 a.m. …Read More »
  • Five Years after Switching the Water Source, Flint Remains a Tragedy

    Five Years after Switching the Water Source, Flint Remains a Tragedy

    Five years after the crisis began, some Flint residents don't trust the water coming from their taps, even though the state has declared it safe. They continue to use bottled water for drinking, bathing, and baptizing their children. Their trust in government long ago washed down the drain. Where bread …Read More »
  • Reflecting on Earth Day 1970 in Michigan and the Origin of the State’s Environmental Movement

    Reflecting on Earth Day 1970 in Michigan and the Origin of the State’s Environmental Movement

    Above: Poster for the ENACT (Environmental Action for Survival) Earth Day Teach-In on the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor campus in March 1970. “Man has so severely despoiled his natural environment that serious concern exists for his survival…What began as an idea and a desire to do something about …Read More »
  • The Future of Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac

    The Future of Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac

    Now that Michigan’s governor and attorney general have sunk the oil tunnel scheme hatched by the last administration, I’m asked nearly every day: What can citizens and state leaders do to shut down the propped-up, banged-up Line 5 oil pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac for good? Here’s my answer, as …Read More »
  • What Happened on Line 5?

    What Happened on Line 5?

    How Did We Get Here on Line 5? Tracing the Law and the Politics The plotting of former Governor Snyder’s administration and Enbridge to hand over the public trust soils and bedrock under the Straits of Mackinac for the company to build and operate a new crude oil pipeline in …Read More »
  • A Day in the Life of Patagonia – a Corporation that Promotes the Common Good

    A Day in the Life of Patagonia – a Corporation that Promotes the Common Good

    Above: Jim Olson and his wife Judy Bosma pose with Patagonia environmental programs associate Alex Cangialose and environmental grants coordinator Tom Kaheli on the front steps of Patagonia’s headquarters. Patagonia, the cutting-edge outdoor clothing company with a mission to serve the common good and the planet’s environment, started out as …Read More »
  • With a New Agency Comes New Structure in Michigan

    With a New Agency Comes New Structure in Michigan

    Once upon a time, state environmental agencies operated for decades under the same name, providing continuity and tradition — but perhaps failing to meet evolving needs. The Michigan Department of Conservation operated for nearly 50 years, beginning in 1921, a period of rapid growth in the state forest and park …Read More »
  • Taking Action on the “Forever Chemicals”

    Taking Action on the “Forever Chemicals”

    Governor Whitmer’s directive Tuesday to the Department of Environmental Quality to develop an enforceable state drinking water standard for toxic PFAS chemicals is a welcome step. It signals that her Administration believes the health of Michigan citizens and the environment is not something to be left to foot-dragging federal officials, …Read More »
  • Proposal to Abolish Required Septic System Inspections Threatens Kalkaska Waters

    Proposal to Abolish Required Septic System Inspections Threatens Kalkaska Waters

    With an estimated 130,000 septic systems leaking E. coli and other pollutants into Michigan groundwater, lakes, and streams, you would hardly think it time to relax inspection requirements. But that’s exactly what Kalkaska County is considering this spring – and this has some local residents and environmental experts concerned. Kalkaska …Read More »
  • What Everyone Should Know About the Great Lakes

    What Everyone Should Know About the Great Lakes

    Freshwater Facts Only freshwater will sustain human life. About 97% of the water on earth is salt water. Of the remaining fraction of approximately 3% that is freshwater, over 98% is locked in ice caps, glaciers and groundwater. Of the remaining fraction of about 1.2% of all freshwater, about .25% …Read More »
  • The Green Governor

    The Green Governor

    One governor of Michigan is remembered in large part because of his environmental ethic and accomplishments. William G. Milliken of Traverse City, who turns 97 on Tuesday, March 26, supported and signed into law most of Michigan’s modern environmental laws while he was the state’s chief executive from 1969-1982. Governor …Read More »
  • Sign of the Times: Toledo Voters Pass Bill of Rights for Lake Erie

    Sign of the Times: Toledo Voters Pass Bill of Rights for Lake Erie

    Above: A Summer day on western Lake Eire A lake, river, creek, parkland, wilderness, or canopy of redwoods or old sugar maples can’t walk to the courthouse to file lawsuits to protect their right to be free from harm, nor can they walk into a precinct and vote. Come to …Read More »
  • PFAS: An Environmental and Public Health Crisis that Needs Answers and Action

    PFAS: An Environmental and Public Health Crisis that Needs Answers and Action

    This is the second installment in a series of essays by FLOW board member Rick Kane on the vital issues of risk management and the responsibilities of public officials under the public trust doctrine. Rick is the former Director of Security, Environment, Transportation Safety and Emergency Services for Rhodia, North …Read More »
  • FLOW Partner Spotlight: Redbudsuds Giving 1% of Sales to the Planet

    FLOW Partner Spotlight: Redbudsuds Giving 1% of Sales to the Planet

    Meet Aubrey Miller, outdoor enthusiast, passionate advocate for our wild places, and founder and co-owner of Redbudsuds, a female-owned company that created a four-in-one shower bar for the eco-minded adventurer. Redbudsuds is part of Patagonia’s 1% for the Planet and gives 1% of its total annual sales to several organizations, including …Read More »
  • Line 5 – Public Trust and Risk Management

    Line 5 – Public Trust and Risk Management

    This is the first in a series of essays by FLOW board member Rick Kane on the vital issues of risk management and the responsibilities of public officials under the public trust doctrine. The issue has special meaning in light of the risks posed by the twin Enbridge pipelines that …Read More »
  • Spring Water – A Marketing Gimmick that Can Negatively Affect Michigan’s Most Susceptible Water Bodies

    Spring Water – A Marketing Gimmick that Can Negatively Affect Michigan’s Most Susceptible Water Bodies

    What is Happening Nestlé Waters North America is taking groundwater near Evart, Michigan, from a sensitive area of springs, wetlands, and ponds, between the upper reaches of Twin and Chippewa Creek. Nestlé is authorized to take groundwater at a rate of 400 gallons per minute (gpm) from a production well, …Read More »
  • Michigan Groundwater Policy: A History

    Michigan Groundwater Policy: A History

    Over 100 Years of Contamination Groundwater contamination in Michigan reaches back over a century. For example, the Antrim Iron Works in Mancelona in 1910 began discharging residues of chemicals recovered from its charcoal production process to an on-site depression that gradually released wastes to groundwater. Although the plant closed in 1944, extensive …Read More »
  • PFAS: The Not So Emerging Contaminants

    PFAS: The Not So Emerging Contaminants

    “Emerging” Contaminants PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are driving Michigan’s latest surface and groundwater crisis, infiltrating public waters with what the media and others describe as “emerging” contaminants. It turns out, however, that this class of persistent fluorinated chemicals, known as “forever” chemicals due to their extraordinarily strong bonds, is …Read More »
  • Groundwater Connection Part 1: A New Podcast from FLOW about Michigan’s Sixth Great Lake, the Water Lying Beneath the Ground

    Groundwater Connection Part 1: A New Podcast from FLOW about Michigan’s Sixth Great Lake, the Water Lying Beneath the Ground

    What lies beneath? In part 1 of FLOW’s new Groundwater Connection podcast, veteran journalist Sally Eisele seeks out the sounds and science of groundwater Up North in Michigan. Listen in on her conversations with children, scientists, and farmers, and personal reflection.Read More »
  • FLOW’s Groundwater Awareness Week: What It Is and Why It Matters

    FLOW’s Groundwater Awareness Week: What It Is and Why It Matters

    Michigan is called the Great Lakes state but is a poor steward of the sixth Great Lake, the water lying beneath Michigan’s ground. During National Groundwater Awareness Week March 10-16, FLOW is calling for state-level reforms to strengthen protection of Michigan’s groundwater. The Invisible Resource Groundwater is an immense and …Read More »
  • Friday Favorite: Houdek Dunes Natural Area

    Friday Favorite: Houdek Dunes Natural Area

    Reading Dave Dempsey’s recent post about the nearby wonder and beauty reminded me to take advantage of the wonderful hiking trails so close to where I live, to explore the corners of the scenic Leelanau Peninsula. There are quite a few hidden gems that don’t get the credit they deserve. So this …Read More »
  • FLOW Challenges Proposed Great Lakes Water Diversion for Foxconn in Wisconsin

    FLOW Challenges Proposed Great Lakes Water Diversion for Foxconn in Wisconsin

    This week, FLOW President and Legal Advisor Jim Olson filed an amicus brief in a challenge to a State of Wisconsin permit authorizing a diversion of 7 million gallons a day (mgd) of Lake Michigan water to support the Foxconn Corporation’s proposed manufacturing facility. As discussed below, the proposed diversion …Read More »
  • Valuing Water Resources in Michigan

    Valuing Water Resources in Michigan

    Budgets are policy. Just as much as new laws and rules. So when Governor Whitmer announced a $120 million clean water initiative Tuesday, it did a lot to validate her rhetoric about being a governor who values our water resources. It’s a big change for Michigan. Some of the $120 million in …Read More »
  • Grandma Josephine the Water Walker: A Remembrance

    Grandma Josephine the Water Walker: A Remembrance

    Above: FLOW Board member JoAnne Cook (left) with the late Josephine Mandamin (right). In late February, Josephine Mandamin of the Anishinabek Nation, affectionately known as Grandma Josephine and Grandmother Water Walker, passed away at 77. Grandma Josephine was famed for leading a Great Lakes water walk to dramatize the importance …Read More »
  • FACTS ABOUT GROUNDWATER

    FACTS ABOUT GROUNDWATER

    There are an estimated 2.8 million trillion gallons of groundwater, 30.1 percent of the world’s freshwater.  An estimated 79.6 billion gallons of groundwater is withdrawn daily, or 26 percent of the water withdrawn in the U.S. From 2010 to 2015, groundwater use in the United States increased by 8.3% while …Read More »
  • Walk On!

    Walk On!

    photo by Beth Price The Town of Long Beach, Indiana, runs along a wide stretch of sandy Lake Michigan beach just below the southwest corner of Michigan. Residences, and a series of public access corridors, extend to the shore from the town’s Lake Shore Drive. More homes extend inland along winding …Read More »
  • Are Michigan’s Residents, Communities, and Businesses Insured if Line 5 Fails in the Straits?

    Are Michigan’s Residents, Communities, and Businesses Insured if Line 5 Fails in the Straits?

    If the 66-year-old Enbridge Line 5 pipelines fail in the Straits of Mackinac, who will pay for the oil spill clean-up costs and damages to residents, coastal communities, businesses, and our public waters? Michigan citizens may believe they are protected, at least at some level, by the insurance Enbridge should …Read More »
  • Friday Favorite: Michigan’s Scenic Shoreline Drives

    Friday Favorite: Michigan’s Scenic Shoreline Drives

    photo by Lauren Hucek Michigan has many candidates for the most scenic drive in America. In my mind, any road that offers remarkable water vistas should join the list. The first 40 miles of US-2 traveling west from St. Ignace are among the most spectacular in the country, as the road rises …Read More »
  • Bypassing, and Now Restoring, the Rule of Law on Line 5

    Bypassing, and Now Restoring, the Rule of Law on Line 5

    After last year’s election, newly chosen leaders and the old guard with a few weeks left in Lansing rushed in opposite directions. The Snyder administration and legislators intensified their unprecedented, legally questionable attacks on water, the environment, and public health during a lame-duck feeding frenzy. The new guard, Governor Gretchen …Read More »
  • Friday Favorite: Toronto

    Friday Favorite: Toronto

    My favorite way to challenge myself is by traveling. It is the simplest way of removing every comfortable aspect of my life, and replacing it with new perspectives, people, and customs. The further away from home I travel, the more challenges I encounter, and the more my perspective changes. While …Read More »
  • “Standing” Up for the Great Lakes

    “Standing” Up for the Great Lakes

    Some gifts come after the lights and music of the holiday season drift into the snowy weeks of the New Year.  We at FLOW are delighted to share a gift just sent to us from Courtney Hammer, our first legal intern, who spent the summer of 2014 here in Traverse …Read More »
  • “No Stricter” Makes No Sense for Michigan’s Environment, Public Health

    “No Stricter” Makes No Sense for Michigan’s Environment, Public Health

    Of all the blows former Governor Rick Snyder and the lame-duck Legislature delivered in late 2018 to Michigan environmental policy, one stands out — a new law intended to thwart state rules that go beyond weak federal minimums. This seemingly abstract law in fact repudiates 50 years of efforts by …Read More »
  • A 2019 Resolution to Reverse Michigan’s Anti-Environmental, Lame-Duck Lunacy

    A 2019 Resolution to Reverse Michigan’s Anti-Environmental, Lame-Duck Lunacy

    It’s January 2019, and it is time to unpack and undo the anti- water, air, environment, public health, and community laws passed by the Republican-run Legislature and signed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder in the last two months of 2018. Lame-duck lawmakers and now ex-Governor Snyder blatantly followed a hit-list …Read More »
  • The Forgotten Great Lake?

    The Forgotten Great Lake?

    The idea that Lake Huron is an overlooked or forgotten lake has even seeped into our government. A report issued by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality posed the question whether Huron is a victim of amnesia. It’s not the biggest Great Lake, the dirtiest, the most populated or the …Read More »
  • Line 5, Lame Duck Legislature Threaten Michigan’s Waters and Way of Life

    Line 5, Lame Duck Legislature Threaten Michigan’s Waters and Way of Life

    With four days remaining until the Michigan Legislature is scheduled to adjourn and 14 days until the inauguration of a new governor, environmental rollbacks still threaten Michigan’s waters and values.  To help FLOW and many allied groups fight back, please read the bill summaries below, and – for greater detail …Read More »
  • Departing Governor and Lame Duck Legislature Speed toward 99-Year Oil Tunnel Scheme, Leaving Mackinac Straits at Risk from Line 5 Pipelines

    Departing Governor and Lame Duck Legislature Speed toward 99-Year Oil Tunnel Scheme, Leaving Mackinac Straits at Risk from Line 5 Pipelines

    https://flowforwater.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Liz-testifying-12.11.18.mp4 FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood testifying Dec. 11, 2018, at the Michigan House of Representatives Government Operations Committee. https://flowforwater.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Kelly-testifying-12.11.18.mp4 FLOW Deputy Director Kelly Thayer testifying Dec. 11, 2018, at the Michigan House of Representatives Government Operations Committee. In coordinated fashion, the Michigan’s lame-duck legislature on Tuesday and governor today opened the …Read More »
  • Hoping That We Won’t “Notice”…   Bridge-and-Oil Tunnel Bill Moving in Michigan House on Tuesday, Dec. 11

    Hoping That We Won’t “Notice”… Bridge-and-Oil Tunnel Bill Moving in Michigan House on Tuesday, Dec. 11

    Giving the 18-hour bare minimum amount of public notice allowed by law, the Michigan House Government Operations Committee at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday will take up the Enbridge oil tunnel bill. A number of lawmakers in both parties – as well as thousands of individuals, groups, businesses, tribes, and local …Read More »
  • Down to the Wire in the Lame Duck:  Lansing Attacks Threaten our Waters and Values

    Down to the Wire in the Lame Duck: Lansing Attacks Threaten our Waters and Values

    Photo credit: Charles Brackett Michigan’s waters and environmental values are under attack. In the next two weeks, Michigan citizens have an opportunity to defend them from a lame duck Legislature that is defying the clear mandate of the State Constitution and the preferences of strong majorities of Michigan voters. Michiganders …Read More »
  • Legislation To Be Considered By Michigan House Leaves Wetlands, Lakes, Streams Unprotected

    Legislation To Be Considered By Michigan House Leaves Wetlands, Lakes, Streams Unprotected

    This week, the Michigan State Senate approved by a 23-14 vote a bill that punches gaping holes in the state’s water defenses.  Senate Bill 1211 now goes to the State House for a vote during the week of December 10.  The legislation removes state legal protection from vast areas of wetlands, lakes, …Read More »
  • Interview with Bill O. Smith, author of Chickadeeland

    Interview with Bill O. Smith, author of Chickadeeland

    Bill O. Smith, committed environmentalist and author of the beloved Chickadee book series, talks to FLOW about Chickadeeland, writing children’s books, and his commitment to supporting environmental organizations.  Could you provide additional biographical information beyond what is on your website?    I grew up in suburban St. Louis, MO…couldn’t have cared less about clean water and the …Read More »
  • Protecting the Great Lakes and the Mackinac Bridge from Enbridge – or Not

    Protecting the Great Lakes and the Mackinac Bridge from Enbridge – or Not

    A view from the Mackinac Bridge of the Straits of Mackinac, just east of where the Enbridge Line 5 oil pipelines (not visible) cross along the bottom. Action Expected Dec. 11 in House, After Michigan Senate Passes Oil Tunnel Bill Still Tied to the Mackinac Bridge The Michigan Senate on …Read More »
  • Line 5 – a Long-Term Asset? Not a Chance in this Century

    Line 5 – a Long-Term Asset? Not a Chance in this Century

    Photo credit: Nancy May By Liz Kirkwood and Skip Pruss Substitute Bill SB 1197 continues to be riddled with faulty assumptions and logic that favor and bend towards Enbridge’s private corporate shareholder interests. Most glaring of all is the audacious and misguided underlying assertion that we humans will continue to …Read More »
  • Legislature’s Assault on Environment Defies State Constitution

    Legislature’s Assault on Environment Defies State Constitution

    Photo credit: Charles Brackett In the midst of multiple legislative attacks on environmental laws and natural resources that Michiganders cherish, it is tempting to despair.  But at FLOW we seek positive, right solutions based on the principle that no matter who a person is, no matter her or his walk …Read More »
  • Presto! Another Tunnel Bill Appears, as Michigan Lawmakers Rush to Save Enbridge from the Public’s Will

    Presto! Another Tunnel Bill Appears, as Michigan Lawmakers Rush to Save Enbridge from the Public’s Will

    In response to an outpouring of bipartisan public pressure to save the Mackinac Bridge from Enbridge, the shareholder-owned Canadian corporation, Michigan Senate Republicans today released yet another rushed version of their Senate Bill 1197 that makes matters worse for the Mighty Mac, the Great Lakes, and Michigan taxpayers. Specifically, in …Read More »
  • We should strengthen, not weaken wetland protection

    We should strengthen, not weaken wetland protection

    This month, in its lame duck session, the Michigan Legislature intends to pass a number of bills harming public health and welfare and the environment – all without meaningful public input or debate.  Included within this eleventh-hour debacle is Senate Bill 1211, sponsored by outgoing Senator Tom Casperson, chair of …Read More »
  • Help Stop These Legislative Attacks on Michigan’s Water, Trees, and Even the Mackinac Bridge

    Help Stop These Legislative Attacks on Michigan’s Water, Trees, and Even the Mackinac Bridge

    The Michigan Legislature during its ongoing lame-duck session – in rushed fashion with little public input or time for lawmaker consideration – is moving a series of bad bills, which threaten the quality of our lakes, streams, wetlands, forests, prairies, and the Great Lakes. To help FLOW and many allied …Read More »
  • Welcome to the Lake Lovers

    Welcome to the Lake Lovers

    Editor’s Note: At FLOW, we couldn’t accomplish our work without support from our partners. Two great examples are The Boardman Review and Katherine Corden, both of whom are donating 5% of their proceeds from The Boardman Review Issue 6 and The Lake Lovers Collection, respectively. Check out both at the Boardman Review Launch party …Read More »
  • Contact Your State Lawmaker Today to Save the Mackinac Bridge from Enbridge Line 5

    Contact Your State Lawmaker Today to Save the Mackinac Bridge from Enbridge Line 5

    Updated November 30, 2018 The rush continues in Michigan’s lame-duck legislature to bind the future of the Mackinac Bridge to notorious oil-spiller Enbridge and its proposed private oil tunnel. A Republican-led Senate committee at an 8:15 a.m. hearing on November 28 voted 3-2 along party lines to approve Senate Bill …Read More »
  • Stop the Wetlands Wrecking Ball

    Stop the Wetlands Wrecking Ball

    Legislation introduced this week in the State Capitol would open hundreds of thousands of acres of wetlands and thousands of inland lakes to destruction.  Senate Bill 1211 attacks Michigan’s nationally recognized wetland protection act and the benefits wetlands provide — including clean water, floodwater storage, fish and wildlife habitat and …Read More »
  • Lame Ducks, Lamer Policies

    Lame Ducks, Lamer Policies

    When Michigan voters cast ballots November 6, they did not express support for attacks on the state’s water resources.  But that’s what they may be getting from Lansing between now and the end of 2018. In politics, lame ducks are officeholders whose successors have been elected but whose terms haven’t …Read More »
  • Thankful for Beautiful Views

    Thankful for Beautiful Views

    Photo by Kenzie Rice Since I was a kid, I have been taking advantage of the beauty of Michigan. You could say I am a veteran of taking advantage of it at this point. My parents would take my siblings and me on picturesque hikes and to spectacular lookout points, …Read More »
  • Giving Thanks

    Giving Thanks

    Photo by Beth Price During this season of gratitude, I give thanks to the life-sustaining Great Lakes waters. And I give thanks to all the peoples of this region who recognize their inherent value and stand up for these freshwater seas. It is our deep human connection to these waters …Read More »
  • Thankful For Running Water In Our Home

    Thankful For Running Water In Our Home

    Above: A giant eroded gully and seasonal water source in Endabeg Village, Tanzania circa 1996 During this week including Thanksgiving, FLOW staff are reflecting on their thankfulness for water. Whether it’s the vast and variable nature of Lake Huron or the water running from a household tap, water is at …Read More »
  • Thankful for Lake Huron

    Thankful for Lake Huron

    During this week including Thanksgiving, FLOW staff are reflecting on their thankfulness for water. Whether it’s the vast and variable nature of Lake Huron or the water running from a household tap, water is at the center of our lives and our gratitude. We hope our writings inspire your reflection …Read More »
  • Take Action Today to Oppose Michigan’s Senate Bill 1197 and Save the Mackinac Bridge from Enbridge Line 5

    Take Action Today to Oppose Michigan’s Senate Bill 1197 and Save the Mackinac Bridge from Enbridge Line 5

    FLOW President Jim Olson addresses the board of the Mackinac Bridge Authority at its Nov. 8, 2018, meeting in St. Ignace. FLOW is urging supporters to contact your Michigan lawmakers today using our guidance below and to plan to join FLOW and other leaders of the Oil & Water Don’t Mix …Read More »
  • Contact Your Michigan Lawmakers Today to Oppose Risky Line 5 Oil Tunnel Scheme

    Contact Your Michigan Lawmakers Today to Oppose Risky Line 5 Oil Tunnel Scheme

    FLOW is urging supporters to contact your Michigan lawmakers today using our template message as a starting point, and to join FLOW and the other leaders of the Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign who are hosting a Line 5 lawmaker lobby day for Tuesday, November 27, in Lansing, to …Read More »
  • Public to Mighty Mac Board: Don’t Risk the Great Lakes and Mackinac Bridge by Owning Private Oil Tunnel

    Public to Mighty Mac Board: Don’t Risk the Great Lakes and Mackinac Bridge by Owning Private Oil Tunnel

    Protect our greatest treasures — the Great Lakes and the Mackinac Bridge. Stop Gov. Rick Snyder’s rush to lock in a 99-year deal for a private oil tunnel in the Mackinac Straits. Never stop fighting for clean water and democracy. Those were the messages loud and clear from a big …Read More »
  • It Speaks Volumes

    It Speaks Volumes

    It speaks volumes: The public has raised its voice in support of the Mighty Mac in a mighty way! The super-sized binder at right contains public comments uniformly against the Mackinac Bridge Authority agreeing to own and take on liability for a risky oil pipeline tunnel in the Straits of …Read More »
  • A Fresh Start for Fresh Water in Michigan

    A Fresh Start for Fresh Water in Michigan

    It is a fresh start for fresh water in Michigan. Tuesday’s election of a new governor who stressed clean water issues offers opportunities that did not exist before the vote. A chief executive who champions water not only can persuade legislators to act, but also has the ability to act …Read More »
  • Supreme Court Rejects Trump Administration’s Last Ditch Maneuver to Avoid Trial on Children’s Climate Change Lawsuit

    Supreme Court Rejects Trump Administration’s Last Ditch Maneuver to Avoid Trial on Children’s Climate Change Lawsuit

    photo: Beth Price What better way to divert attention on Election Day than to write something beyond political parties and votes—but wait, maybe it’s not so far beyond, as this election could make the difference for the future of the planet, and our children and grandchildren. On November 2, the …Read More »
  • Vote for Water: Michiganders Can Choose Great Lakes Protection and Prosperity

    Vote for Water: Michiganders Can Choose Great Lakes Protection and Prosperity

    By Paul Hendricks, Manager of Environmental Responsibility, Patagonia, Inc. All photos courtesy of Paul Hendricks. Every fall, strong north winds bring in a steady flow of storms that rip across the Great Lakes. You’ve probably witnessed one of these storms, where waves crash over pier heads and howling winds cut through …Read More »
  • The Drinking Water Crisis: It’s Rural, Too

    The Drinking Water Crisis: It’s Rural, Too

    Groundwater is out of sight, but its mismanagement has real consequences for our health. An article in Saturday’s New York Times confirms what FLOW reported in November: elevated levels of nitrate in groundwater have polluted thousands of rural wells in the Midwest. The Times notes that up to 42,000 wells …Read More »
  • Political Winds Threaten the Mackinac Bridge on Its 61st Birthday

    Political Winds Threaten the Mackinac Bridge on Its 61st Birthday

    Photo credit: Nancy May Happy Birthday to the Mackinac Bridge! Today marks its 61st birthday. The Mighty Mac, as it is affectionately known, opened to traffic on November 1, 1957. Perhaps no other piece of public infrastructure in Michigan evokes the same pride and sense of majesty as does the …Read More »
  • Small Group Wins Big Victory on the AuSable River, Urges Nov. 6 Vote for Water

    Small Group Wins Big Victory on the AuSable River, Urges Nov. 6 Vote for Water

    The Anglers of the Au Sable in late September reached a successful legal settlement with the Harrietta Hills Fish Farm in Grayling that by January 1 will permanently close the commercial fish farm. Harrietta Hills will vacate the premises, and the Anglers will assume the lease with Crawford County and …Read More »
  • Michiganders Can Vote for Water

    Michiganders Can Vote for Water

    When Michiganders cast votes on November 6, remember that more than candidates are on the ballot. So are water and the public trust. We encourage all voters to put Michigan water’s stewardship agenda at the center of their decision-making. The next governor, attorney general, and legislature will face historic opportunities and …Read More »
  • What the Water Says

    What the Water Says

    Photo: Charles Brackett Inspired by FLOW’s Campaign for Fresh Water by Jaimien Delp Maybe there was a specific moment when it happened: the first time you saw a kiteboarder on the bay, or the evening you dipped a paddle to the surface of an inland lake so smooth you felt …Read More »
  • “Water Is the Essence of Life”

    “Water Is the Essence of Life”

    photo: Nancy May By JoAnne Cook, FLOW Board Member and former Tribal Court Judge The Anishinaabek, who are the Indigenous people from the Great Lakes area, are born with an innate sense of our connection to everything around us. We feel the connection between us and all things in creation, …Read More »
  • Spending a Night Under the Stars along the Straits of Mackinac

    Spending a Night Under the Stars along the Straits of Mackinac

    This week’s Friday Favorite was written by Julius Moss, one of our summer interns who has since returned to Vermont Law School. To me, the Mackinac Bridge is not just a bridge. It is also a portal. Every time I head north from my home in Traverse City, MI and …Read More »
  • Living Along Enbridge Line 5 in Michigan

    Living Along Enbridge Line 5 in Michigan

    If you live anywhere along the route of Enbridge’s Line 5 crude oil and natural gas liquids (NGLs) pipeline, which travels 547 miles across the Upper Peninsula, the Straits of Mackinac, and down through Lower Michigan, you should be asking state and local government officials and emergency responders a lot …Read More »
  • Legal Fact from Legal Fictions

    Legal Fact from Legal Fictions

    A Preface When I sat down to finish this post this morning on the news about Michigan’s agreement with Enbridge to consider replacing an aging, dangerous Line 5 crude oil pipeline through the Great Lakes basin, I realized that what I should really be writing about is yesterday’s dire warning …Read More »
  • New Book: A Great Lakes Journey Toward Advocacy

    New Book: A Great Lakes Journey Toward Advocacy

     Author Mary McKSchmidt will discuss and read from her new book, Uncharted Waters: Romance, Adventure, and Advocacy on the Great Lakes, Saturday, Oct. 13 from 1-3 p.m. at Horizon Books in Traverse City. Mary McKSchmidt is an adventurer—a woman who has wandered across southern Africa; achieved success in positions typically …Read More »
  • A Warm Welcome to Our New Deputy Director, Kelly Thayer

    A Warm Welcome to Our New Deputy Director, Kelly Thayer

    It brings me great pleasure to announce that Kelly Thayer has joined the FLOW team as our new Deputy Director. Kelly will play a lead role in strategic communications and overall program development and implementation. We have dreamed about this day for a long time.   Kelly is a familiar …Read More »
  • Friday Favorite: Grand Traverse Commons

    Friday Favorite: Grand Traverse Commons

    Though not the flashiest or most spectacular, this week’s Friday favorite is my regular place to hike. It is less of a handsome tuxedo and more of a favorite autumn sweater. One summer in Traverse City, I hiked somewhere in this network of trails every day. I am talking about …Read More »
  • FLOW Releases Report to Save Our “Sixth Great Lake”

    FLOW Releases Report to Save Our “Sixth Great Lake”

    Today marks the beginning of a campaign to protect groundwater in Michigan and our surrounding states as the “Sixth Great Lake,” a lightning-bolt phrase promoted by Dave Dempsey, FLOW’s senior policy advisor and author of a sentinel groundwater report released by FLOW this week. In this second of a trilogy …Read More »
  • Water (Civil) Wars?

    Water (Civil) Wars?

    Dr. Daniel Macfarlane is an Assistant Professor in the Freshwater Science and Sustainability program in Western Michigan University’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. He is the author or co-editor of published books on the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project and US-Canada border waters, and forthcoming books on the International Joint Commission and the …Read More »
  • The Campaign for Fresh Water

    The Campaign for Fresh Water

    FLOW Releases Model Legislation to Protect Michigan’s Public Waters and the Rights of the People Who Depend on Them from Unauthorized Privatization We’re writing today to invite you to join us in an exciting and critical new venture, the launch of The Campaign for Fresh Water, FLOW’s comprehensive and solutions-based …Read More »
  • PFAS in the Huron River: Every Mile, Every Fish, Every Day

    PFAS in the Huron River: Every Mile, Every Fish, Every Day

    As usual, our 15-year-old son Quincy had fishing on his mind. It was the steamy Friday afternoon start of Labor Day weekend in Ann Arbor. We had just moved Quincy’s brother Alex into a University of Michigan dorm room, and taken my wife to Detroit Metropolitan Airport to visit her …Read More »
  • Friday Favorite: A subtle gem in Traverse City

    Friday Favorite: A subtle gem in Traverse City

    When it comes to beautiful places, the Grand Traverse region has an embarrassment of riches. I hope to live to 100, so I can visit them all. One I have come to know well may be one of the most subtle. It’s practically in my back yard beside the Munson …Read More »
  • Paddle Protests & Water Celebration: Weekend Wrap-Up

    Paddle Protests & Water Celebration: Weekend Wrap-Up

    Saturday, September 1 was a day of action for citizens of Michigan. The fourth annual Pipe Out Paddle Protest was held in the Straits of Mackinac, followed by the inaugural Water Is Life Festival. Organized by Jannan Cornstalk, both events drew participants from all over the mitten, coming together to …Read More »
  • Friday Favorite: Gibraltar Island

    Friday Favorite: Gibraltar Island

    This week, I had the opportunity to travel to a new place that I knew nothing about, which is one of my favorite things to do. I was honored to be hosted by Ohio Sea Grant for a stay at Gibraltar Island in western Lake Erie. For such a small …Read More »
  • Michigan’s Latest Emergency Drinking Water Crisis: PFAS, Another History Lesson Ignored Again

    Michigan’s Latest Emergency Drinking Water Crisis: PFAS, Another History Lesson Ignored Again

    In 1962, with the release of her seminal work, Silent Spring, Rachel Carson sounded a warning to the American public about the perils of persistent pesticide chemicals like DDT to silence the very ecosystems they attempt to tame. Carson’s story underscored the interconnectedness of all living things and systems and …Read More »
  • We Need Another Great Lakes Agreement

    We Need Another Great Lakes Agreement

    Toward the end of Dan Egan’s award-winning book, The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, the author observes that in the 1960s Michigan unilaterally planted exotic salmon in the Lakes.  The action produced a new sportfishery but also changed the ecology of the Great Lakes in unforeseen ways, with …Read More »
  • Friday Favorite: Brown Bridge Quiet Area

    Friday Favorite: Brown Bridge Quiet Area

    Look through any Traverse City visitors’ guide book for places to see during your stay, and nine times of out of ten, they’ll point you straight to Sleeping Bear Dunes. With its sweeping, majestic views from the dunes overlook and Caribbean blue waters of Lake Michigan below, it’s no wonder …Read More »
  • U.S. Senate Hearing Sets the Stage for Turning Off Dangerous Enbridge Line 5 in Great Lakes

    U.S. Senate Hearing Sets the Stage for Turning Off Dangerous Enbridge Line 5 in Great Lakes

    Michigan Senator Gary Peters, ranking member of a Senate committee overseeing hazardous pipelines, held a public hearing in Traverse City, Michigan Monday, ground zero in a race to turn off Enbridge’s 65-year old Line 5 before it spills millions of gallons into the Straits of Mackinac and blackens the water, …Read More »
  • Make More Michigan Underwater Parks

    Make More Michigan Underwater Parks

    Michigan’s state park system is considered one of the finest in the nation.  Dating back to 1917, the system includes 103 parks and recreation areas that sustain more than 25 million annual visits. But there’s another, smaller park system, and it’s underwater. The underwater preserve system is also on public …Read More »
  • Friday Favorites – Power Island

    Friday Favorites – Power Island

    Power Island in Grand Traverse Bay has always been a hometown favorite of mine. I have been visiting Power Island since I was a young boy and have always been fascinated about the stories my mother would tell me about how she would visit the island as a young girl, …Read More »
  • Finally, An Honest Conversation About Line 5’s Real Risks to Our Waters and Our Way of Life

    Finally, An Honest Conversation About Line 5’s Real Risks to Our Waters and Our Way of Life

    Over three years ago, on July 15, 2015, the State of Michigan’s Petroleum Pipeline Task Force released its recommendations for the state to conduct an independent risk analysis and independent alternatives analysis on the Line 5 pipelines located in the open waters of the Great Lakes. The Governor’s Advisory Board, …Read More »
  • Friday Favorites – the Mackinac Bridge

    Friday Favorites – the Mackinac Bridge

    Friday Favorites is our new series where we explore some of our favorite places in and around the Great Lakes. The Mighty Mac, the Big Mac, the Mackinac Bridge. One of the most iconic sights in the Great Lakes region, the Bridge has always been a source of wonder for …Read More »
  • Water is on the Ballot, Too

    Water is on the Ballot, Too

    Now that the primary election is behind us, Michiganders will pay increasing attention to this fall’s all-important electoral choices.  FLOW is contacting the nominees for Governor, Attorney General, and northwest Michigan House and Senate seats this week to inform them of the water and public trust issues we think they …Read More »
  • A Tunnel for Line 5? – That Would be a Big Mistake

    A Tunnel for Line 5? – That Would be a Big Mistake

    In an end-run around the public participation process they established, Governor Rick Snyder and Enbridge, Inc., the owner and operator of Line 5, are exploring the possibility of building a $500 million tunnel to replace the stretch of 65 year-old Line 5 pipeline that runs under the Straits of Mackinac.  …Read More »
  • Friday Favorites – Pyramid Point

    Friday Favorites – Pyramid Point

    Friday Favorites is our new series where we explore some of our favorite places to play in and around the Great Lakes. Traverse City residents might be rolling their eyes at the suggestion of Pyramid Point as one of my favorite places in the Traverse City area, but hear me …Read More »
  • Using Art to Explore Our Relationship with Water

    Using Art to Explore Our Relationship with Water

    Sarah Bearup-Neal is the Glen Arbor Arts Center’s Communications/Gallery Manager. She graduated from Michigan State University in 1978 with a BFA in Studio Art and has maintained an active studio practice focused on fiber art since 1999. Sarah lives in Benzie County. Each year, the Glen Arbor Arts Center mounts …Read More »
  • Putting the Public First

    Putting the Public First

    I remember the shock of the journalists on a 1985 media tour of the Rouge River in southeast Michigan when they were told to look down from a bridge to see raw human waste in the waters below. In 1985?  Hadn’t we taken care of raw sewage by passing the …Read More »
  • Protecting Traverse City’s Tap Water

    Protecting Traverse City’s Tap Water

    Anyone who visits Traverse City can easily see how important freshwater is to this region. The iconic Grand Traverse Bay, numerous inland lakes and the Boardman River winding through downtown make freshwater an essential part of Traverse City’s landscape and culture. Our unique freshwater resources provide remarkable recreational opportunities that …Read More »
  • The Right of Passage

    The Right of Passage

    After more than 30 years of working on environmental policy, I moved to within a few hundred feet of one of the Great Lakes.  Given the opportunity to stroll along the shore as often as I wanted, I suddenly realized I didn’t know what I could legally do when the …Read More »
  • “Old-School Conservationist” and a New Book

    “Old-School Conservationist” and a New Book

    Editor’s note:  Tom Bailey has served as executive director of the Little Traverse Conservancy for more than 30 years.  He retires next month. Michigan State University Press has published a collection of Tom’s essays, entitled North Country Almanac.  Tom will be signing and discussing his book Saturday at Horizon Books in Traverse …Read More »
  • The Public Trust Doctrine Percolates into State Courts, Legislators, and Commissions to Protect Groundwater, Streams, Lakes, Economies and Quality of Life

    The Public Trust Doctrine Percolates into State Courts, Legislators, and Commissions to Protect Groundwater, Streams, Lakes, Economies and Quality of Life

    “Water Justice Flows Like Water.”[1]   Law professor Sprout D. Kapua’ala, borrowing from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I’ve Been to the Mountaintop speech in 1968 (“justice rolling down like waters”), captures decades of conflict over the streams and waters of Hawai’i, siphoned and dried from a century of withdrawals and diversion …Read More »
  • Enjoying the Great Lakes This Summer

    Enjoying the Great Lakes This Summer

    Summer in northern Michigan is one of our favorite things, and we are trying to enjoy it to the fullest while it is here. With all of the busyness this season, it does become a conscious effort. It’s not unusual to hear this around the FLOW office: “Wow, is it …Read More »
  • Water: the Great Uniter

    Water: the Great Uniter

    Last Thursday, July 6, was FLOW’s second annual An Evening for the Great Lakes hosted by amazing co-organizers Cammie Buehler and Jeremy Turner at the beautiful Cherry Basket Farms near Omena. What a fantastic night! We want to extend a huge thank you to everyone who made the event such a major …Read More »
  • Attorney General Bill Schuette has Ample Legal Authority to Pursue a Shutdown of Line 5

    Attorney General Bill Schuette has Ample Legal Authority to Pursue a Shutdown of Line 5

    By: FLOW Chair, Skip Pruss Taking Legal Action Recently, John Sellek, Attorney General Bill Schuette’s campaign spokesperson, pushed back on the charge that the Attorney General could have taken legal action to shut down the Enbridge Line 5 petroleum pipelines at the Straits of Mackinac, stating “If this claim about the …Read More »
  • FLOW’s Vision to Address the World Water Crisis

    FLOW’s Vision to Address the World Water Crisis

    “The water cycle and the life cycle are one” —- Jacques Cousteau   A White-Water Trip Down the Currents of the Public Trust Doctrine In ancient times, people knew water and the life cycles were the same. Without water, civilizations collapsed. Rome, with its dependence on water and the spokes …Read More »
  • Tapping into Local Awesomeness

    Tapping into Local Awesomeness

    The Local Movement Did you know that the City of Traverse City has been addressing plastic pollution, climate change, and water privatization for almost a decade? I’m so proud of our small but mighty Midwest town here in the heart of the Great Lakes. In 2009, our city adopted a resolution …Read More »
  • It’s Time for the State of Michigan to Put Protection of our Great Lakes and Citizens First

    It’s Time for the State of Michigan to Put Protection of our Great Lakes and Citizens First

    Almost three years ago, with the release of Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force’s report on July 14, 2015, Attorney General Bill Schuette announced that the days of Line 5 were numbered. The public also believed that the State of Michigan planned to seek two independent studies on Line 5 to …Read More »
  • JoAnne Cook Brings New Perspective to FLOW

    JoAnne Cook Brings New Perspective to FLOW

    In May, Tribal law expert and educator JoAnne Cook joined FLOW’s Board of Directors. JoAnne, who lives in Northport, is a former Council member, Vice Chair and Acting Chair of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. She also served as Chief Judge of the Little Traverse Bay Band of …Read More »
  • President Trump’s Executive Order to Industrialize Great Lakes Violates the Public Trust

    President Trump’s Executive Order to Industrialize Great Lakes Violates the Public Trust

    On June 19, 2018, President Trump issued an Executive Order that declared “the ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes waters of the United States are foundational to economy, security, global competitiveness, and well-being of the United States.” The purpose of this order is three-fold: Facilitate economic growth and industrial use of …Read More »
  • Progress on Plastics

    Progress on Plastics

    Roughly 500 million straws are used and disposed of in the United States every day.[1] Even though you might want to think that the majority of those straws end up in recycling facilities, the reality is that they do not. These tiny unnecessary tubes end up in landfills, city streets, …Read More »
  • Art and the Environment:  Northport Sees the Big Picture

    Art and the Environment:  Northport Sees the Big Picture

    It’s not often that more than 200 people collaborate to create a work of art – but the experience of Northport suggests that more communities should try. Last September, the Village of Northport dedicated a 32” high, 109’ long Marina Mural, Bay Presents (as in “gifts”), which is quickly becoming …Read More »
  • Water for Flint, Not for Nestlé

    Water for Flint, Not for Nestlé

    Flint is still dealing with the lead poisoning of residents’ drinking water. Residents of Detroit are once again experiencing water shutoffs. Ontario has the highest number of Drinking Water Advisories in First Nations out of all the provinces in Canada. All the while Nestlé is allowed to pump millions of …Read More »
  • The Public Trust Doctrine and the Implications of the Walker Lake Litigation

    The Public Trust Doctrine and the Implications of the Walker Lake Litigation

    FLOW’s organizing principle is the public trust doctrine.  What sounds like an exotic concept is quite simple.  This centuries-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 …Read More »
  • Inspiring Young Minds to Take Action

    Inspiring Young Minds to Take Action

    In honor of Earth Day 2018, FLOW volunteer Deyar Jamil gave a presentation on Reducing, Reusing and Recycling to the 4th and 5th graders at Immaculate Conception Elementary School.  Deyar asked students to think about what changes they might be able to make in their own lives to help protect …Read More »
  • Michigan DEQ Ignores Law to OK Brine Disposal Wells

    Michigan DEQ Ignores Law to OK Brine Disposal Wells

    With neither review nor transparency, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality on June 1, 2018, granted permits to Michigan Potash Operating for three deep-injection wells to dispose of brine waste in the heart of a wetland complex about five miles southwest of the city of Evart, in southern Osceola County. The latest approval …Read More »
  • Countdown to a Line 5 Shutdown

    Countdown to a Line 5 Shutdown

    Photo credit: Nancy May 7 – It would take at least seven years to plan and build a tunnel under the Mackinac Straits, according to an estimate by Michigan Technological University, if proven to be legal and feasible, while Line 5’s threat to the Great Lakes would grow larger. 6 – A Line 5 …Read More »
  • The Joys of Kayaking Northern Michigan

    The Joys of Kayaking Northern Michigan

    If you can’t find me at my desk at FLOW headquarters, you will usually find me somewhere on the water. I am a fan of pretty much any water activity you can think of. However, kayaking has become one of my favorite ways to get out on the water. I …Read More »
  • Why Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation’s Contested Case Against the Nestlé Water Permit Is Right and Necessary

    Why Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation’s Contested Case Against the Nestlé Water Permit Is Right and Necessary

    Permits that Harm Water and Natural Resources Michigan officials have been busy this spring — busy handing out permits to take or destroy Michigan’s water and natural resources in violation of clear constitutional and legal mandates: A mandatory duty to protect the public’s paramount interest in our air, water, and …Read More »
  • Changing the World, One Child at a Time

    Changing the World, One Child at a Time

    Nelson Mandela said that education is the most powerful weapon to change the world.  In honor of Earth Day, I gave a presentation on Reducing, Reusing and Recycling to approximately 700 students at three different schools in Traverse City.  We talked about issues including natural ecosystems, sustainability, population growth, and urban …Read More »
  • Wishing for Water in the Porcupine Mountains

    Wishing for Water in the Porcupine Mountains

    Over Memorial Day Weekend, the Great Lakes get their first official burst of summer. Stores and restaurants of coastal towns extend their hours and see the first long lines of the season. The beaches and bays fill with laughter and people and boats. Not much compares to summertime on the …Read More »
  • Enough is Enough: It’s Time to Decommission Line 5

    Enough is Enough: It’s Time to Decommission Line 5

    Every year, a million visitors reach the shores of Mackinac Island, also known as Turtle Island to the Anishinaabe peoples who first settled here in the Great Lakes.  Unlike most visitors, every May I make an annual pilgrimage to the island to argue the case to decommission Line 5 to our …Read More »
  • The Buck Stops With Them

    The Buck Stops With Them

    Photo: Nancy May – work available at numerous shops on Mackinac Island FLOW reminds state leaders they have the power to defend the Great Lakes from Enbridge. Governor Snyder and Attorney General Schuette have the legal authority to protect the Great Lakes from the major risk posed by the antiquated …Read More »
  • An Evening for the Great Lakes

    An Evening for the Great Lakes

    A Special Celebration to Benefit FLOW Come join us on July 5th for an evening of farm-to-table fare from Epicure Catering, beverages from Baia Estate Leelanau, Arbor Brewing, and Iron Fish Distillery, and delight in the music of 4-time GRAMMY winning mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile. An Evening for the Great Lakes …Read More »
  • Morning on the Manistee

    Morning on the Manistee

    5:32 AM Fishing! Bleary eyed, I rolled out of bed and slowly pulled on a tshirt, long-sleeved shirt, flannel, sweatshirt, and jacket. Tossing a bigger jacket, raincoat, and extra socks into my bag, I dragged myself to the kitchen and immediately flipped the switch on the instant kettle. Give me …Read More »
  • Saving the Straits of Mackinac

    Saving the Straits of Mackinac

    Saving the Straits of Mackinac Yesterday, May 22, 2018, marks the day that our state’s citizens, threatened with the terrible harm of an oil spill from a failed Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac, took matters into their own hands. The Straits of Mackinac Alliance (SMA) filed a contested-case …Read More »
  • Appreciating Our Submerged Lands: Michigan

    Appreciating Our Submerged Lands: Michigan

    Submerged Michigan   38,000 square miles.  That’s a lot of real estate.  In fact, it’s bigger than the square mileage of 12 states — including Indiana, West Virginia and Massachusetts.   It’s part of Michigan.  It’s a part you and all other citizens of Michigan own.   And it’s all underwater, …Read More »
  • DEQ Decision Endangers Au Sable River, Violates Public Trust

    DEQ Decision Endangers Au Sable River, Violates Public Trust

    By Tom Baird, FLOW Board Member Once again, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has sacrificed our precious water resources for the profits of a privately owned business and the promise of a couple of low wage jobs. As a result, the waters of the Au Sable River will be …Read More »
  • Giving Back Can Come in Many Forms

    Giving Back Can Come in Many Forms

    Giving Back Can Come in Many Forms A Sunday afternoon spent walking through downtown Traverse City, taking in some much needed and long overdue sunshine and fresh air, strolling along the Boardman River and picking up trash – a perfect day, right? Perhaps that last part sounds less than appealing, …Read More »
  • BAYKEEPER® Heather Smith is Protector and Educator Too

    BAYKEEPER® Heather Smith is Protector and Educator Too

    Grand Traverse Bay is one of the Great Lakes watershed’s special places.  Protecting, restoring and preserving it is the job of many, but a special role goes to Heather Smith, the Grand Traverse BAYKEEPER® at the Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay since August 2016.  FLOW was curious about Heather’s work, …Read More »
  • Public Trust Perspectives

    Public Trust Perspectives

    FLOW’s organizing principle is the public trust doctrine.  This centuries-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, these commons – including the Great Lakes — belongs to the public.  And governments, like the State …Read More »
  • FLOW Demands State Reject Latest Enbridge Ploy

    FLOW Demands State Reject Latest Enbridge Ploy

    In comments submitted to state officials Friday, FLOW is urging state regulators to deny a bid by Enbridge Energy to install 48 new anchor supports on dangerous Line 5 at the Straits of Mackinac while evading scrutiny of alternatives that would protect the environment. Enbridge’s latest request, if approved, would …Read More »
  • Water and Nevada

    Water and Nevada

    When you think of Nevada (and that’s ne-va-da, not ne-vah-duh), I bet a clear picture forms in your mind: Las Vegas and its neon lights, slot machines, Elvis, quick divorces and UFO sightings (among other things). Those are all part of it, yes. But did you know Nevada is an …Read More »
  • Growing the Plastics Conversation towards Meaningful Change

    Growing the Plastics Conversation towards Meaningful Change

    A growing movement is afoot here in the Great Lakes – a broadening recognition and fierce determination to tackle the ubiquity of single-use plastics in our waters. Just in our small neck of the woods in northern Michigan, a number of nonprofit groups, concerned citizens, and conservation districts are seizing …Read More »
  • Interview with Chris Doyal of the Grand Traverse Bay Underwater Preserve Council

    Interview with Chris Doyal of the Grand Traverse Bay Underwater Preserve Council

    Michigan is the 22nd largest state if you consider only the land within its borders that is above water.  But if you add its submerged lands, it’s the 11th largest. Much of the approximately 40,000 square miles of Michigan under water consists of Great Lakes submerged lands, which belong to …Read More »
  • What Kind of Environmental Agency Does Michigan Need?

    What Kind of Environmental Agency Does Michigan Need?

    For almost eight years, Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality has sided with resource exploitation over resource protection. MDEQ’s recent decisions to grant Nestle a 60% increase in the volume of water it can extract from springs near Evart for bottling and sale, and to authorize Enbridge Energy to bypass full …Read More »
  • Water Always Wins

    Water Always Wins

    Last month, I took a plane out to Eugene, Oregon to visit my brother and his girlfriend. We spent most of our time playing pinball and visiting the local tea bar to try out various Oolongs, but one of the days out there, we decided to head out to the …Read More »
  • The Wisconsin Water Diversion Giveaway

    The Wisconsin Water Diversion Giveaway

    The 10-year-old Great Lakes Compact is not just an agreement among eight states. It is also a compact between the citizens and public officials of those states. A decision yesterday in Wisconsin puts both compacts at risk. Wisconsin has now approved a diversion of up to 2.7 million gallons a day of …Read More »
  • Michigan’s Water Legacy

    Michigan’s Water Legacy

    “This couldn’t be just a lake. No real water was ever blue like that. A light breeze stirred the pin-cherry tree beside the window, ruffled the feathers of a fat sea gull promenading on the pink rocks below. The breeze was full of evergreen spice.” — Dorothy Maywood Bird, “Mystery …Read More »
  • Grand Traverse Islands National Park Proposal

    Grand Traverse Islands National Park Proposal

    Eight states border the Great Lakes, but only five national parks.  For those who think the spectacular values of the freshwater coast are underrepresented among the crown jewels of the national park system, there is good news:  a small but dogged group of Wisconsin citizens is keeping the torch lit …Read More »
  • The “Fox in the Henhouse” Michigan Bill Package

    The “Fox in the Henhouse” Michigan Bill Package

    The “Fox in the Henhouse” bill package in the State Legislature is on the move again. The Michigan Competitiveness Committee in the Michigan House of Representatives is holding a meeting Wednesday at 2:30 PM in Room 307 of the House Office Building. On the agenda are the three Anti-Department of Environmental Quality (Senate-passed) bills: SB 652, …Read More »
  • Anatomy of A Spill in the Great Lakes

    Anatomy of A Spill in the Great Lakes

    Five years ago this spring, when I first learned about Line 5, I could only imagine what a catastrophic oil spill would look like here in the heart of the Great Lakes.  Two weeks ago, we dodged a bullet as we watched a hazardous liquid spill from two neighboring transmission …Read More »
  • Kryptonite and Water

    Kryptonite and Water

    This March, I met an amazing young woman from Flint named Kayla Shannon at Freshwater Future’s All About Water conference in Detroit, Michigan.  This conference brought together an extraordinary group of people and organizations across the state from the grassroots, the environment and policy community, and academia, all committed to …Read More »
  • One Word: Pervasive

    One Word: Pervasive

    Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. Benjamin: Yes, sir. Mr. McGuire: Are you listening? Benjamin: Yes, I am. Mr. McGuire: Plastics. Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean? Mr. McGuire: There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about …Read More »
  • A Young Organizer Raises Awareness with a June 3 “Floatila” in Traverse City

    A Young Organizer Raises Awareness with a June 3 “Floatila” in Traverse City

    Young people are changing the world.  More evidence is an effort by a young Elk Rapids advocate, Zander Cabinaw, to help organize a June 3 event promoting awareness of aquatic invasive species prevention in the Great Lakes. Hundreds of canoeists, kayakers, paddleboarders and more will turn out for the event …Read More »
  • FLOW Statement on MDEQ Approval of Nestlé Water Extraction Permit

    FLOW Statement on MDEQ Approval of Nestlé Water Extraction Permit

    The MDEQ and the Snyder Administration have failed (again) to fulfill their public trust responsibilities as defenders of our waters. While we are continuing to analyze the state permit and accompanying documentation, and will have a comprehensive response in the near future, some things are clear.  The DEQ issued Nestlé …Read More »
  • The Lake Michigan Mermaid:  Co-Authors Discuss Their New Work

    The Lake Michigan Mermaid:  Co-Authors Discuss Their New Work

    Poets Anne-Marie Oomen and Linda Nemec Foster will read from their new book, The Lake Michigan Mermaid, at a fundraiser for FLOW on Thursday, April 19.  The reading and reception take place from 5:30-7:00 p.m. at the Centerpointe conference center, top floor, on the west arm of Traverse Bay. Published by Wayne …Read More »
  • Humoring Ourselves to Get Off the Bottle

    Humoring Ourselves to Get Off the Bottle

    Today at FLOW, we are launching our latest campaign. It’s called Get Off the Bottle, and it combines facts, law, and policy with good old fashioned humor about the absurd implications of bottled water, whose sales surpassed the sales of soda for the first time in 2016.   Just think …Read More »
  • Can One Person Make a Difference? This Sixth Grader Already Has

    Can One Person Make a Difference? This Sixth Grader Already Has

    Hope is in the air, and the water. On a recent trip to Chicago to attend the Patagonia Action Works conference, FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood met an extraordinary young advocate, Marcella Carter.  Spurred into action by her concern about the oil and gas pipelines threatening the Straits of Mackinac, …Read More »
  • The Environmental Governor

    The Environmental Governor

    On Monday, Traverse City’s own William G. Milliken, the state’s longest serving governor, turns 96.  It’s an appropriate time to reflect not only on his outstanding environmental record — the best of any chief executive of Michigan — but also on his legacy of civility and decency, as scarce these …Read More »
  • World Water Day

    World Water Day

    Today is World Water Day, focusing attention on the importance of water. The theme for World Water Day 2018 is Nature for Water – exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges of the 21st century.   In Michigan, citizens are rallying to call attention to the failure of state policymakers …Read More »
  • MSU Extension Has No Business Supporting the Privatization of the Great Lakes

    MSU Extension Has No Business Supporting the Privatization of the Great Lakes

    Although proponents of Great Lakes aquaculture say it can be done without compromising the lakes, accidents have led tribes and First Nations peoples to call for a shutdown of Atlantic salmon net-pen farming along the West Coast of North America. photo: NOAA It would be hard to imagine Michigan State University Extension …Read More »
  • Wisconsin Water Diversion Proposal Flouts Public Trust

    Wisconsin Water Diversion Proposal Flouts Public Trust

    FLOW’s organizing principle is the public trust doctrine.  What sounds like an exotic concept is quite simple.  This centuries-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, these commons – including the Great Lakes — …Read More »
  • Have We Learned Our Lessons from PBB?

    Have We Learned Our Lessons from PBB?

    Michigan cattle contaminated by toxic PBB in 1973 were slaughtered and buried in landfills. A story in the Detroit Free Press last week revived memories of one of the nation’s worst chemical disasters.  It happened in Michigan 45 years ago.  And researchers are still trying to figure out what the …Read More »
  • Racing to the Top: A Reason for Hope by Liz Kirkwood

    Racing to the Top: A Reason for Hope by Liz Kirkwood

    There’s no question that this is a tough time to be an environmental lawyer.  Just Google “roll back of environmental regulations” and you’ll get hits like “67 Environmental Rules on the Way Out Under Trump” or “A Running List of How Trump is Changing the Environment.”  And that’s just a …Read More »
  • Spring Is Coming

    Spring Is Coming

    Although the snow currently falling from the sky would have us believe otherwise, spring is on the way. Tuesday, March 20 is officially the spring equinox, transitioning us out of the stagnation of winter and into the movement and growth of spring. This time of year, the vernal window, brings …Read More »
  • Happy Dr. Seuss Day from FLOW

    Happy Dr. Seuss Day from FLOW

    March 2 is the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel and, in 1997, was officially proclaimed Read Across America Day in his honor. To be completely honest, my favorite of his books growing up was Fox in Socks, but coming in at a close second was The Lorax. (If you have …Read More »
  • Two Poets, a Mermaid, and FLOW

    Two Poets, a Mermaid, and FLOW

    FLOW is pleased to announce poets Anne-Marie Oomen and Linda Nemec Foster will read from their new book, The Lake Michigan Mermaid, at a fundraiser for FLOW on Thursday, April 19.  The reading and reception take place from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Centerpointe conference center, top floor, in Traverse City. …Read More »
  • Two Love Letters to the Great Lakes

    Two Love Letters to the Great Lakes

    LOVE LETTER TO THE GREAT LAKES:   I HAVE ALWAYS LIVED CLOSE TO YOU, I PADDLED IN YOUR SHALLOWS AS A CHILD, DRINKING IN YOUR TASTE. WAVES CARESSED MY BACK AS I WATCHED SAND ON THE LAKE BED, PILED INTO TINY RIPPLES & DUNES…IT WAS MAGICAL! I DREW MAPS & GAMES WITH MY BIG TOE …Read More »
  • Help Stop an Attack on Michigan’s Water

    Help Stop an Attack on Michigan’s Water

    Should Michigan law make it easier for special interests to grab large amounts of water without public oversight? Most citizens would say no, but the Michigan Legislature is considering a “yes.”  The State House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday, February 28 at 9 a.m. on …Read More »
  • Great Lakes Proud

    Great Lakes Proud

    Great Lakes Proud (GLP) isn’t just a local brand, it’s national, even dabbling internationally (with stickers spotted in South Korea, Japan, Austria, and Croatia – to name a few)  – and the work it is doing locally is adding value fit for the scale. Since 2009, the Michigan-based business has …Read More »
  • Skip the Straw

    Skip the Straw

    The production of plastic was first viewed as a miracle, the birth of a surprisingly durable material. But used as a disposable material, that durability is part of its downfall. Plastic degrades very slowly, and it often ends up in the environment and in the food chain. In 1950, the …Read More »
  • Trump Administration: Importance of Great Lakes Cleanup Equal to Hosting a Military Parade

    Trump Administration: Importance of Great Lakes Cleanup Equal to Hosting a Military Parade

    The Trump Administration on February 14 revealed that President Donald Trump’s proposed military parade, inspired by his attendance at the Bastille Day celebration last July in Paris, would cost taxpayers as much as $30 million. While there’s been broad criticism of the appropriateness of such a display by the world’s …Read More »
  • Let’s Go to the Creek!

    Let’s Go to the Creek!

    “Let’s go to the creek!” Wide eyes and an expectant smile stared up at my dad. Growing up with a state park behind our house, I felt the creek had a mystical quality. We would explore for what felt like days, sliding down the hill, peering in the fox den, …Read More »
  • What a Difference 100 Years Makes

    What a Difference 100 Years Makes

    What a difference 100 years makes. In 1918, a US-Canadian commission reported on the condition of the boundary waters between the two countries with an emphasis on the connecting waters of the Great Lakes. In the words of the International Joint Commission, the situation was a disgrace. It was also …Read More »
  • You Can’t Spin This One

    You Can’t Spin This One

    When a special interest group backs bad legislation, it’s almost par for the course that the group will try to doctor its proposal with seemingly innocuous rhetoric. But deplorable legislation now before the Michigan House of Representatives is so one-sided and anti-environmental that attempts by the State Chamber of Commerce …Read More »
  • An Unprecedented Attack

    An Unprecedented Attack

    Since the 1970s, Michiganders have benefited from – and agreed on the need for – basic environmental protections.  Our health, recreation and tourism economy and quality of life have improved since the days of rivers with dead zones and skies blackened by smoke. Now the Michigan Legislature threatens to undo …Read More »
  • Considering Productivity on World Wetland Day

    Considering Productivity on World Wetland Day

    Today, February 2, is World Wetland Day. A 2012 UN Report says from 1900 to 2012, the world lost 50% of its wetlands. As humans, we value our productivity. We want to gut the unnecessary and utilize every minute and every inch to its full potential. However, when we aim …Read More »
  • President Trump Infrastructure Plan Will Pipe Our Public Water Systems to Private Investors on Wall Street

    President Trump Infrastructure Plan Will Pipe Our Public Water Systems to Private Investors on Wall Street

    “This is our ‘New American Moment,'” President Trump said in the State of the Union speech. “There has never been a better time to start living the American dream.” He talked of building “gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways across our land.” But based on an outline released …Read More »
  • Attack on State DEQ Needs Urgent Response

    Attack on State DEQ Needs Urgent Response

    Environmentally, Michigan once strived to be the best. Now the Michigan Senate's policy goal is to sink down with the rest. Two bills approved last week by the Michigan State Senate, Senate Bills 652 and 653, would lead to a deteriorating environment in Michigan. They create two supercharged boards dominated by pollution interests …Read More »
  • Please Call Governor Snyder about SB 409

    Please Call Governor Snyder about SB 409

    FLOW submitted a letter to Governor Snyder, urging him to veto Senate Bill 409, which violates the public trust in the Great Lakes.  We ask you today to do the same. Please call the Governor at 517-335-7858, and tell him to veto SB 409. Letter to Governor Snyder Detailed Analysis of …Read More »
  • When is Clean Not Clean? A Critical Environmental Issue

    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. Now retired, Andrew Hogarth was the respected longtime chief of the Remediation and Redevelopment Division – in charge of toxic cleanup – in the …Read More »
  • The State of the Great Lakes

    The State of the Great Lakes

    Are the Great Lakes getting better or worse? Any good scientist will tell you that’s a short question with a long answer, a simple question with a complicated answer.  And after a half hour of trying to explain it to you, they will have made it only a little simpler.  …Read More »
  • Lake Erie and the Public Trust Doctrine

    Lake Erie and the Public Trust Doctrine

    Last week, the U.S. EPA acknowledged the serious algae problem sickening western Lake Erie.  It withdrew its approval of the State of Ohio’s decision not to declare the western Erie basin to be impaired. Does that mean the lake will be cleaned up soon?  Hardly. EPA’s determination bounces the ball …Read More »
  • The Dunes and the Water

    The Dunes and the Water

    “It is said in the desert that possession of water in great amount can inflict a man with fatal carelessness.”  ― Frank Herbert, Dune As a youngster, my favorite novel was Frank Herbert’s Dune, which takes place on a fictional desert planet. Unsurprisingly, this planet houses plenty of sand but precious little …Read More »
  • The Largest Lake in the World

    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 …Read More »
  • A Clear Plan to Decommission Line 5

    A Clear Plan to Decommission Line 5

    Advocates of shutting down dangerous Line 5 at the Straits of Mackinac presented a detailed plan for its decommissioning yesterday.  The plan gives the state officials who are accountable, Attorney General Bill Schuette and Governor Rick Snyder, a detailed, realistic plan for protecting the Great Lakes from a catastrophic oil …Read More »
  • Considering Knowledge of the Great Lakes and Plastic Bottles

    Considering Knowledge of the Great Lakes and Plastic Bottles

    Raised on Schoolhouse Rock!, I learned from a very young age that “knowledge is power.” While at first just a witticism I repeated in the show’s quirky inflection, the saying soon became real. This was one of the first bits of power I acquired, and I ran with it. I …Read More »
  • Can We Meet the Majesty of Lake Superior?

    Can We Meet the Majesty of Lake Superior?

    A big lake requires a big book.  Lake Superior, the largest lake by surface area in the world, now has one.  Nancy Langston’s Sustaining Lake Superior: An Extraordinary Lake in a Changing World offers a sweeping panorama of the lake’s environmental history, its present challenges and a glimpse of the …Read More »
  • Embracing a New Water Ethic

    Embracing a New Water Ethic

    In 1949, renowned conservationist and fellow Midwesterner Aldo Leopold wrote about a land ethic in a seminal piece published in his classic, A Sand County Almanac. He wrote: “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which …Read More »
  • I Live Near Lake Michigan

    I Live Near Lake Michigan

    I live near Lake Michigan. I am among the lucky ones, as is my neighbor, Tom Shaver, who has said more than once that he pinches himself as a reminder not to take living next to Lake Michigan for granted. Like most of my neighbors, Tom has a deep appreciation …Read More »
  • Resources for the New Year

    Resources for the New Year

    As we approach the new year, many of us take inventory. We take a look at the goals we have set for ourselves, set new ones – or the same ones again – and we head into 2018 with a fresh perspective. I will have a physique like Arnold Schwarzenegger …Read More »
  • The Gift of Freshwater

    The Gift of Freshwater

    In a season of gift-giving, it’s timely to remember that the people of the Great Lakes Basin inherited the greatest freshwater gift in the world. We are slightly more than half a percent of the population of the world, but live among 20% of the surface freshwater of the world. …Read More »
  • The Nutcracker & The Public Trust

    The Nutcracker & The Public Trust

    My children and I recently celebrated the season by watching a wonderful Nutcracker ballet production at the Interlochen Arts Academy. Reading the back of the playbill, I was amazed to learn that this extraordinary music and ballet – now an American classic – was conceived one hundred and twenty-five years …Read More »
  • Tilting at Tunnels and a Brighter Tomorrow

    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 …Read More »
  • Grading the Governments on Great Lakes Performance

    Grading the Governments on Great Lakes Performance

    Last month, the International Joint Commission (IJC), created by the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty between the U.S. and Canada, released its first triennial assessment of Great Lakes water quality under a new iteration of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. In the Triennial Assessment of Progress (TAP), the IJC commended …Read More »
  • Fish Farms or Holy Waters?

    Fish Farms or Holy Waters?

    Almost everyone agrees: the old state fish hatchery on the Au Sable River in Grayling is the worst place you could pick for a commercial fish farming operation. It is on the East Branch, just upstream from the famed Holy Waters, the heart of Michigan’s blue ribbon trout fishing industry, …Read More »
  • FLOW Submits a Nonpartisan Comment on Proposed Senate Bill 409

    FLOW Submits a Nonpartisan Comment on Proposed Senate Bill 409

    FLOW has contacted key Michigan lawmakers to ask them to defend the public's Great Lakes waters and submerged lands from intrusion. Legislation before the House Committee on Natural Resources exceeds the Legislature's powers and puts publicly owned waters and submerged lands at risk. S.B. 409 allows private riparian landowners to …Read More »
  • Flint and the Straits of Mackinac

    Flint and the Straits of Mackinac

    What do the Flint drinking water catastrophe and the recent agreement regarding the Enbridge pipeline at the Straits of Mackinac have in common?  Both are the result of a gubernatorial administration with fundamental mistrust of the public it serves. In Flint, the Snyder Administration appointed an emergency manager to short-circuit …Read More »
  • Drinking Water and a Forgotten Tragedy

    Drinking Water and a Forgotten Tragedy

    Fort Gratiot County Park north of Port Huron bustles for a little more than three months of the year, from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  Large groups occupy the gazebos, families snatch up all the picnic tables, teens play Frisbee in the sand while kids rule a small playground, and the …Read More »
  • Where Did the Water Go?

    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 observations. The controversy over Nestlé’s extraction …Read More »
  • State should end discussion, take action on Line 5

    State should end discussion, take action on Line 5

    When the police pulls a resident over for going 100 mph in a 55-mph zone, they don't cluck their tongues -- they click their ticket books. But when Michigan’s state government catches Enbridge Energy putting the Great Lakes at risk by failing again to disclose dangerous conditions on its Line …Read More »
  • Great Lakes groups band together to challenge Nestlé and water crises in Flint and beyond

    Great Lakes groups band together to challenge Nestlé and water crises in Flint and beyond

    “My grandson that’s not here tonight, that’s twelve years old, he was to be an academic ambassador to go to Washington in the year 2014 and 2015. Well he was an A-B student but by the time the lead began to corrode his brain, he was no longer an A-B …Read More »