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 medical complex on the west side of Traverse City.
photos by The Watershed Center
Completed in 2013, it’s part of a much larger restoration project coordinated by The Watershed CenterGrand Traverse Bay. Directly across the street to the east from the Cowell Family Cancer Center, the Kids Creek Healing Garden has been fashioned from what was formerly asphalt and a strait-jacketed stretch of a tributary of Kids Creek. Built in cooperation with Munson Medical Center, it features native plantings, riffles and pools, a winding stream bed and the perpetual, reassuring sound of flowing water. A stretch of the Kids Creek trail meanders through the pocket park.
The environmental benefit is a major contribution to restoring a four-mile stretch of Kids Creek that is officially listed as impaired under provisions of the Clean Water Act. Along with other features, the restored stream area will reduce flood hazards, filter polluted runoff, and provide habitat for aquatic life.
Dave Dempsey, Senior Advisor
The human benefit is the preservation and restoration of emotional and spiritual peace, an oasis in an urban world of traffic, noise, and profound stresses. Furnished with benches, it invites the visitor to sit, listen, watch, and contemplate.
The project proves that the abstract idea of “environmental compliance” can be addressed creatively, in a way that is cost-effective while beautifying not just the appearance, but the soul of a community.
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 protect our waters. The family friendly Water Is Life Festival featured musicians, panels, and celebrations of water.
“The 2018 Paddle Protest and Water is Life Festival were a powerful showing of our collective commitment to protecting our Great Lakes and decommissioning Line 5,” said FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood, who participated in the event. “The voices of our Indigenous leaders with sovereign treaty rights were bold and clear: water is sacred and the Great Lakes should not continue as an oil corridor for Enbridge corporate profit.”
In addition to the events at Mackinaw City, the first sister paddle protest was held in Traverse City, MI. Paddling together down the Boardman River, participants “spilled” into West Bay, and joined into a flotilla to protest the continued operation of Line 5.
Co-organizer of the TC paddle Karen Bunting said, “We were thrilled with the community turnout for the sister Pipe Out Paddle Protest! We left the Union Dam area cleaner than we found it, paddled together down the Boardman River, and raised awareness about the dangers of Line 5. Other paddlers joined us in West Bay, and we formed a flotilla of about 50 water protectors to demand that Line 5 be decommissioned before it’s too late.” She added,“Our most sincere appreciation to all those who showed up for this important event and our sponsors: FLOW, The River Outfitters, Paddle TC, Oryana, Image360 and Tee See Tee. We made a difference on Saturday and couldn’t have done it without all of you!”
All three events highlighted concerns about Line 5, elevating local voices and putting forth a unified effort and belief that protecting our Great Lakes is more important than preserving a risky 65-year-old pipeline.
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 bring thousands of visitors to the shores of Traverse City every summer. One of the major benefits from our freshwater that often goes unnoticed, is its use as tap water in our everyday lives.
Even as a longtime resident who is very passionate about water, I had to ask myself, do I know where the water from my tap comes from? Well, if you live in the city limits of Traverse City, the answer is the Grand Traverse East Bay (“East Bay”). Traverse City pumps an average of 5.19 million gallons a day from East Bay to supply the growing demand for freshwater. This freshwater is taken out of East Bay through a steel and wood crib that sits about 40 feet below the water surface off the Old Mission Peninsula. The water is pumped to the City’s water treatment plant, then distributed through roughly 120 miles of pipes to serve an ever-growing customer base of approximately 40,000 people.
Planning the Future
Given East Bay’s significant role as the source of Traverse City’s tap water, it is important for us as a community to become engaged in planning for the future of East Bay and the surrounding Grand Traverse watershed.
This is no small task. The Grand Traverse watershed is approximately 976 square miles, covering portions of Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Antrim, and Kalkaska counties, including 132 miles of shoreline. However, as vast as those numbers might seem, it is imperative that we understand and manage our freshwater at the watershed level to properly care for East Bay and the source of our tap water. A Watershed is defined as an area of land that drains all the streams and rainfall into a common outlet.Watershed protection is critical to the long-term health of East Bay because the majority of East Bay’s water comes from tributaries throughout the watershed, including 180 billion gallons of water per year from the Elk Rapids Chain of Lakes.
Fortunately, The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay and other organizations in the Northern Michigan area implemented a Grand Traverse Bay Watershed Protection plan in 2003. The Protection Plan sets six broad goals that range from protecting the integrity of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems within the watershed to improving the quality of water resources within Grand Traverse Bay and its watershed. In addition, the 2003 Watershed Protection Plan has resulted in more than $7 million worth of watershed management projects, and has “prevented more than 16,230 tons of sediment, 9300 lbs. of phosphorous and 14,940 lbs. of nitrogen from entering the Grand Traverse Bay and its watershed.”
What Can You Do?
This community-driven Watershed Protection Plan plays a crucial role in our management of East Bay, helping protect against issues such as invasive species, storm water run-off, and wetland protection. The Watershed Protection Plan from 2003 is currently being updated with citizen input by the Watershed Center. Although the Watershed Center’s community meetings regarding the new protection plan have already occurred, the Watershed Center is still accepting public input until July 31st through a public survey.
Julius Moss, Legal Intern
I encourage everyone to take a few minutes this weekend, reflect on the importance of water in our area, and share your ideas and concerns with the Watershed Center. We are fortunate to have an abundance of freshwater around us, we must continue to protect our valuable resource and together as a community prepare for the future of East Bay, the Grand Traverse Watershed, and our tap water.
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 to ban plastic bottled water from allmunicipalfunctions!Why? Because the city had already recognized the wasteful nature of single-use plastic water bottles, the staggering expense associated with bottled water, the climate change impacts and carbon footprint associated with producing and shipping plastics made from fossil fuels, and the incredible high quality drinking water Traverse City provides its residents. City Planner, Russ Soyring, explained that this resolution is a reflection of the city’s culture now.And it’s a testimony to how resilient we are when we decide to be.
In less than 10 years, bottled water has outstripped the sales of carbonated soda beverages, and bottled water has been become another normalized American addiction.Compared tomunicipalwater, bottled water can cost up to 2000% moreper volume than tap water. Around 64% of commercial bottled water is just tap water that’s been filtered or purified. 70% of plastic water bottles are not recycled — and still people drink from them.
The Larger Conversation
This conversation about bottled water is a critical one to us at FLOW because it opens the door to a larger policy conversation about the urgency of retaining and protecting water as a public resource.That’s why we started theGet Off the Bottlecampaign.That’s why we started mapping all the drinking fountains and refillable bottled water stations on an app calledWeTap.If we’re going to change our habits, we know we need alternatives like knowing where we can fill up our reusable water bottle.
In buying bottled water, consumers are inadvertently legitimizing the capture of water that belongs to all of us by private, for-profit companies who reap unearned, enormous riches. Water belongs to the public and cannot be privately owned. Turning water into a product for private profit is inconsistent with the 1500-year-old public trust doctrine of law and risks putting all water up for grabs.
The majority ofmunicipalwater systems in this country – some 85% — are publicly owned and remain accountable to residents under constitutional and public governance. But as ourmunicipalinfrastructure continues to age without adequate funding support, there will be increasing pressure to privatize our drinking and wastewater systems.The latest example comes to us fromPuerto Rico.And clear patterns emerge from water privatization, well documented to include: rate increases, lack of public accountability and transparency, higher operation costs, worse customer service, loss of one in three water jobs.A Food & Water Watch survey of rates by 500 water systems showed that privatized systems typically charge 59 percent more than publicly owned systems.
We know there is no one size that fits all; however, when it comes to water, we have to affirmatively commit to protecting it as a shared public resource.To this end, we believe that local governments across the Great Lakes Basin must insist on key principles that Jim Olson articulated in his blog several months ago:
Declare all water public; just because our natural public water commons enter an intake pipe does not mean this water loses its public common and sovereign status. Government at all times must manage and provide water as sovereign for the benefit of people.
Impose public oversight with a duty to protect the public service, public interest, public health, and public trust in water and the infrastructure the water passes through;
Establish rights and Impose duties of accountability, notice, participation, equal access to safe, adequate, clean, affordable public water;
Guarantee principles of due process, equal protection of law, and right to basic water service;
Guarantee affordability and equity in access and use of water by all residents and customers;
Implement fair and innovative pricing, subject to public oversight, a public utility or water board, with a statement of rights, duties, enforcement, and government process to assure safe, clean, affordable public water.
Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director
Fundamentally, while national and state environmental policies are critically important, we know that local communities are where policies take shape in our daily lives.It’s right here in our own communities where we can make a difference.Thanks TC for taking back the tap!
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 started seriously paddling a few years ago when I began working at Backcountry North, a local outfitter in downtown Traverse City. With the help of then-owner Sandy Graham, I learned the ins and outs of paddle strokes, boat position, and of course all the pre-trip planning that goes into having a great day on the water. With this knowledge, I have been able to participate in multi-day sea kayaking excursions on the Great Lakes, and have spent a considerable amount of time paddling the whitewater rapids scattered across Northern Michigan.
Kayaking is a great way to get out and enjoy the freshwater that makes Northern Michigan so special. Whether it be floating down the Boardman River, or paddling next to the 450-foot-tall Sleeping Bear Dunes on Lake Michigan, the perspective from a kayak is truly one of a kind. This unique perspective shows how incredible the fresh water in Northern Michigan truly is and how fortunate we are to have it at our fingertips.
It always amazes me that when I am sitting in my kayak out in Grand Traverse Bay that I am sitting in the Great Lakes system, which makes up approximately one-fifth of the surface freshwater around the world. However, as insignificant as I might feel in that moment, I also try to remind myself that the Great Lakes are still dependent upon each and every one of us to make the right decisions for their future. Whether that’s by saying NO to Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac or making sure that we leave no trace when spending the day on the water, we all play a part in the future of the Great Lakes.
This summer, I am thrilled not only to be back on the water, but also to be able to spread my knowledge and passion about kayaking and the freshwater resources here in Northern Michigan. Backcountry North is offering kayak demos throughout the summer, and I am fortunate to be working with them in helping others get out and experience the joys of kayaking. If you have any interest in participating in a kayak demo, please contact Backcountry North for further details at (231) 941-1100. I hope all of you get the chance to experience a day of paddling in Northern Michigan, and I look forward to seeing many of you out on the water this summer!
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, but I promise you, it was the highlight of my day. A couple weeks ago, I participated in a river clean-up organized by a few eco-minded local businesses. For the chance to be outside and help out for a good cause, I was happy to spend a few hours picking up litter.
Dozens of other area residents must have felt the same way. Everyone from young kids to retirees came prepared with trash bags and gloves, ready to roll up their sleeves and put in some elbow grease to make our town, and waterways, a little cleaner. As I picked up cigarette butts, bottle caps, and plastic bags off the river bank, I was met with the smiling faces of other volunteers and gratitude from passersby, taking the time to stop and say “thank you.” Maybe it was sunshine-induced happiness after months of drab, cold northern Michigan winter, but the air seemed to be saturated with positive energy. I’m often asked how I make time to volunteer while balancing work, school, and coaching, and volunteer events like this remind me why I choose to make it a priority. I might not be able to volunteer consistently or lend my skills to every organization I support. The most important part is to give back when I can.
Giving can come in many forms, but we all have the capacity for it.
It doesn’t have to feel like a time-consuming commitment, or financially burdensome. Donations are often siloed into two categories: time or money. If you want to affect change, but are feeling short on both, I offer you a third option. The act of giving can also include the gift of change: a willingness to stop buying bottled water, using a reusable mug or thermos for your to-go coffee, or saying no to single-use straws. These are just a few of the small but simple actions that can protect our environment, and make our world a better place for everyone. And isn’t that what giving is all about?
Thank you to all the local businesses for organizing for the Boardman River Clean Up:
Grand Traverse Guide
Keen Technical Solutions
The Northern Angler
Way of Knife
With the collective power of 75 participants, we collected more than 600 pounds of trash!
“In keeping with our tradition of enjoying the land and water that surrounds us we’re hosting a 1st annual Summer Solstice Pumpkin Paddle & Deck Party on Wednesday June 21st from 5-8pm.
Enjoy stand up paddle boarding around Bowers Harbor before heading up to our deck for a Summer Solstice party. We’ll have live music, pork cheek fritters, bacon burgers, pork shank pasta & ribs, plus $2 beers and Strawberry Basil Sangria!
The M22 Challenge is a unique run-bike-paddle event held in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Recognized as “The Most Beautiful Place in America,” the overwhelming beauty of the race course and the camaraderie of fellow racers will make this event one you won’t forget!
Contact: Misha Neidorfler 321 E Front Street
Morsels, LLC Traverse City, MI 49684
Phone: 231.421.1353 www.morselsbakery.com
For immediate release:
Traverse City, MI, March 29, 2017: For the month of April 2017, Morsels
Espresso + Edibles, a specialty bakery, featuring unique, bite-sized baked goods,
will be partnering with FLOW (For Love of Water), continuing an effort to support
the Traverse City community through unique, partnering arrangements. Morsels
has created a custom morsel (their bite-sized bakery goods) for FLOW called,
“for love of rosewater,” which is pistachio-cardamom cake with rosewater
frosting. For each of these morsels sold, Morsels will donate $.25 to FLOW at the
end of the month. The morsels will be available for purchase in the store as well
as on Morsels’ website for shipping from April 1-30.
FLOW is a water law and policy center working to protect the common waters of
the Great Lakes Basin through public trust solutions. We educate, engage, and
empower citizens to protect the Great Lakes now and forever. To learn more
about the systemic threats facing our Great Lakes water and how you can help,
we invite you to visit our web site at www.flowforwater.org.
Morsels Espresso + Edibles, owned and operated by local couple, Jeff and Misha
Neidorfler, offers a selection of specialty, hand-crafted, bite-sized desserts and
savory treats, along with a Michigan-sourced breakfast and lunch menu, and
features specialty coffee and tea from Intelligentsia Coffee and Kilogram Tea.
Morsels has been in business in Downtown Traverse City since 2008.
FLOW’s unique morsel flavor called, “for love of rosewater.” Morsels creates
specialty, bite-sized baked goods and will donate $.25 of each of these morsels
sold in the month of April to FLOW.
Summer Happy Hour! Join FLOW for drinks, food truck eats, and a screening of the Line 5 adventure documentary Great Lakes, Bad Lines at the Little Fleet Friday, July 1st from 4-7pm. Stick around for live music by Dragon Wagon. 10% of all bar sales will be donated to FLOW. Hope to celebrate with you there!