Many of the business practices we have at the Fox River Navigational System Authority already take into account social distancing simply due to the nature of our work at the locks. However, to comply with CDC guidelines and state recommendations, we are following these procedures to increase personal safety and limit exposure to the coronavirus.

In our offices:

  • We banned all external visitors from our offices by March 20 and immediately began to work from home.
  • All board meetings and committee meetings have been conducted via videoconference.

At the Locks: This summer we will employ 29 lock tenders at the nine locks on the system that are open for boaters.

  • The nature of operating the locks requires a lock tender to be at each end of the lock, a distance of about 145 feet.
  • Our annual opening day is delayed until May 30, 2020.
  • All lock tenders will be wearing face masks and have hand sanitizer at each lock gate.
  • Lock turnstyles, valve controls and ropes used for anchoring boaters will be wiped down and sanitized after each lockage.
  • When boaters enter the locks, they are between 15’-6’ below the lock’s retaining walls depending on the level of the river, and are naturally socially distanced from the lock tenders.
  • When lock tenders are collecting lock fees they will use a bucket on a pole to avoid contact with boaters.

Our goal is to provide a safe and memorable experience to all boaters traveling through the locks and to pedestrians who want to experience living history in action. For a complete listing of our operating hours and fees to travel the lock system, please visit this link. 


Original Article

Blog – Fox Locks

Blog – Fox Locks

Fox Locks

COVID-19 Next Steps: Great Lakes outdoor recreation begins move toward normalcy

After nearly two months of reduced access, various levels of restrictions and outright closures, thousands of national, state, provincial and municipal parks, boating ramps, wildlife areas and other outdoor recreation areas are making their return from COVID-19.

Officials are hoping the move will help push life closer to normal for millions of people.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

James Proffitt

Enbridge to move forward with tunnel permitting amid pandemic, Interlochen Public Radio reports

By Kaye LaFond, Interlochen Public Radio

Enbridge Energy will not delay submitting permits for its controversial Great Lakes Tunnel Project because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tribal governments that oppose the project want Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to slow the process down. They say it’s impossible to prepare for public comment and official tribal consultations when most tribal staff are sheltering in place.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

GLN Editor

March 27, 2020

#Turn Water On, #Keep Water On, and #Make Water Affordable + Finding Hope in Tough Times +Flushing Do’s and Don’ts + Federal Agency Waives Some Compliance Requirements Amid Coronavirus Crisis

#Turn Water On, #Keep Water On, and #Make Water Affordable

Here is a brief update on efforts to ensure people have access to water during the coronavirus. (If you use social media, please use the hashtags above to increase awareness.)


On Wednesday, Ohio’s legislature unanimously passed legislation that halts all future water shutoffs and restores residential water services to residents across Ohio as an emergency measure to protect public health during the COVID-19 crisis. 

As a result it:

  • Requires a public water system to restore service to any customer whose service was disconnected as a result of nonpayment of fees and charges;

  • Requires a public water system to waive all fees for connection or re-connection to the public water system; and 

  • Prohibits a public water system from disconnecting customers because of nonpayment of fees and charges.

Freshwater Future will continue to work with our community partners to ensure the water is getting turned on in a timely manner.

Local Spotlight
Junction Coalition is a strong community organization that supports families in Toledo, Ohio fighting against challenges like access to food and water due to levels of poverty. The needs of the community are being magnified during the COVID-19 crisis as unemployment skyrockets. Junction is working to ensure that non-English speaking Toledo residents have access to information and support as well. Working with Freshwater Future they are ensuring that water democracy is continued to secure affordable water rates now, and after this pandemic. 


The coronavirus is hitting hard in the City of Detroit.  Outside of New York and New Orleans, Detroit has the highest per capita infection rate in the country.  With 1 out of 3 residents being impoverished and a high rate of diabetes, Detroiters are more at risk from the virus.  In addition, thousands of Detroit residents still do not have access to running water. The City has put a moratorium on shutoffs and is returning service, but at a slow rate.  

Local Spotlight
Our friends at We the People of Detroit have galvanized volunteers, with proper safety equipment, to utilize their water distribution points and are urging the City for a faster rate of restoration.  Stay tuned, we’ll be sending an opportunity for you to help get water restored for all Michigan residents early next week.


The City of  Chicago has an existing moratorium on water shutoffs and connected with local advocates and environmental organizations to discuss effectively restoring water to all homes. Data issues within the City, such as what homes have been reconnected which have not, are delaying re-connection and local organizations such as Blacks in Green are working to help resolve those issues.

Finding Hope in Tough Times

March 22 was World Water Day, providing an annual platform to elevate how vital water is to our lives. The pandemic has underscored the importance of having water to wash our hands and to drink. Freshwater Future is here working every day to ensure people have access to clean, safe, and affordable water.  We are committed to supporting our community partners efforts to protect public health and safety. Please enjoy this video as we extend the celebration of World Water Day!


Flushing Do’s and Don’ts

DO FLUSH–If your water service was recently restored FLUSHING is necessary to move out the stagnant water. Here are step by step tips on how to do proper flushing.

DON’T FLUSH–Antibacterial or any kind of “flushable” wipes are NOT good for waste water treatment systems or septic systems. Even if they say they are “flushable” it causes havoc with pipes and water systems. They should be disposed of in trash.

Federal Agency Waives Some Environmental Compliance Requirements  

Cleaner, summer-grade gasoline may be slow to come to the gas pump this year.  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) is waiving compliance requirements for some industries due to the coronavirus pandemic. Hopefully, the waivers will not increase pollution that impacts public health.  We will keep you posted.

“Freshwater Future believes this action is irresponsible and endangers peoples’ health from toxins at the same time they are worried about and confronted with Covid-19. Congress should exercise its oversight authority with the agency to protect our people, water, air and land.” says Jill Ryan, Director of Freshwater Future. Keep an eye out next week for a related action.

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

Alexis Smith

Tighter Restrictions: COVID-19 makes it harder to cross Great Lakes borders between U.S. and Canada

Customers who attempt to pay with cash at the Blue Water Bridge will be prohibited from crossing.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

Kathy Johnson

March 20, 2020

Water Issues During COVID-19

Dear Community Partners,

During this unprecedented crisis, Freshwater Future’s main priorities are to ensure the safety of our Great Lakes communities and partners and to help sustain public health and well-being. All of us and our families will be dealing with different levels of social, economic and health impacts from the precautions we need to take to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Know that Freshwater Future is here to help you in any way with support, information, outreach, and contacting public officials.

Freshwater Future has been working diligently to ensure that water service is restored to those where it has been turned off and that safety issues continue to be at the forefront, such as availability of filters for lead and PFAS.  We will continue to move these critical water needs forward throughout the crisis and know that you will continue your important work as well. Please let us know your needs and questions by contacting Alicia Smith, or 231-348-8200.

We are in this together, and together, we will overcome this crisis and rise.

Jill M. Ryan, Executive Director, and Freshwater Future Team

Returning Water To Waterless Homes Important: Flushing Required

Between 2014 and 2018, water was shutoff to over 100,000 customers in Detroit alone.  People all over the Great Lakes region do not have running water. Because of the importance of hand-washing to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, many cities are turning the water back on for residents.  In support with our community partners, Freshwater Future is asking Governors and Directors of Health and Human Service Departments to turn water on for all residents.

Here is an update and how you can help:

Michigan–The city of Detroit is turning water back-on for residents, very slowly, with only 400 of more than 3,500 homes having received service. Other cities have halted future water shutoffs, but have yet to restore water to residents currently without water in their homes.  Click here to ask Governor Whitmer and Robert Gordon to turn water on for all-now!

Ohio–Freshwater Future staff have been working to get water access returned for residents all over Ohio.  Columbus, Toledo, and several other cities have restored water access (learn more about our work here).

Wisconsin–After Governor Tony Evers declared a state of public health emergency to enhance response to the COVID-19, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission directed utilities– water, electric, and natural gas to stop disconnecting services. Utilities must also reconnect service for occupied dwellings.

If you need support with getting water turned on in your community, please contact Kristy Meyer, or 231-348-8200 ext. 7.

Water Back-On, Don’t Forget to Flush

After water is restored to a house, all water lines require flushing to remove stagnant water and potential pollutants.  If you have a family member, friend, or you face this issue, learn how to properly flush your water now.

Dr. Mona says 80% of Flint kids tested need special services

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician that helped reveal the Flint Water Crisis, stated in a “60 Minutes” interview that 80% of Flint kids will need additional educational services as a result of lead exposure.  Prior to the crisis, approximately 15% of Flint kids required additional services.  Dr. Hana-Attisha and her colleagues are studying lead in baby teeth to learn more about the correlation between learning problems and exposure to lead.

Freshwater Future, Calling All Smiles On Deck!

There are times like this when everything seems wrong and letting yourself fall seems like the only thing you can do. Until a helping hand reaches down to pull you back up, greeting you with a smile from ear to ear. Reminding you that this journey for clean and safe drinking water does not have to be endured alone. Freshwater Future works tirelessly with community members all around the Great Lakes to ensure that when times are tough they’ve got teammates to lean on. Coronavirus has arrived with a presence spreading into all levels of social, economic, and health areas. This too shall pass and we shall overcome it. Enchanted with brighter days awaiting us at the end of the tunnel. Fight on! We’re right there with you.

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

Alexis Smith

Headline: Cutting Contact: U.S. and Canada cut cash transactions and non-essential travel at border

At the Blue Water Bridge, International Bridge, Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and Mackinac Bridge, tolls will stop taking cash.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

Kathy Johnson

March 13, 2020

Visits with Federal Representatives Highlight Water Issues + Detroit to Restore Water Service to Aid in Coronavirus Prevention + Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie Set Water Level Records in February + POSTPONED–Flint Community Water Lab Grand Opening + Pellston, Michigan Students Help Discover PFAS in Homes

Visits with Federal Representatives Highlight Water Issues   


Last week, Freshwater Future and our partners from communities around the Great Lakes visited Federal Representatives in Washington, D.C. to inform them of concerns and needs to address water safety, toxins in water, and affordability.  

Detroit to Restore Water Service to Aid in Coronavirus Prevention

One of the most critical defenses for fighting off coronavirus is washing our hands.  We the People of Detroit led an initiative requesting the City of Detroit cease all water shutoffs and begin to restore service to all customers for public health reasons. Returning service to waterless homes will slow down the spread of the coronavirus and other health risks that are associated with no water in the home.

Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie Set Water Level Records in February

If one inch of water equates to 800 billion gallons of water, what happens when the Great Lakes rise as high as 17 inches above the shoreline? Water level records are shattered creating higher rates of erosion and higher waves for surfing. 

POSTPONED–Flint Community Water Lab Grand Opening

The Flint Development Center and Freshwater Future have worked years to establish the Mckenzie Patrice Croom, Flint Community Lab, the first of its kind.  The Grand Opening scheduled for March 25th has been postponed due to the coronavirus. To ensure the health and safety of our participants and community members, we will reschedule for a later date. You will not want to miss this celebration.

Pellston, Michigan Students Help Discover PFAS in Homes

Pellston students, after learning about the toxic chemicals called PFAS, worked with Freshwater Future to test the water in their classmates’ homes. The results found high levels in a few residences.  The students are stepping up and becoming young leaders in the community by helping to inform and educate the community about PFAS and tackling the problem.

Ask Your Senator to Take Action on PFAS

In January, the U.S. House of Representatives passed, with bipartisan support, the PFAS Action Act (H.B. 535).  Sign this petition to ask your Senators to move PFAS solutions forward.  This important piece of legislation will:

  • Protect drinking water from PFAS by requiring the EPA to create a drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS within two years.

  • Protect the Great Lakes, rivers, and streams from PFAS pollution by listing PFOS and PFOA under the Clean Water Act within two years.

  • Protect our air from PFAS by making PFOS and PFOA hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.

  • Require corporate polluters to clean up their PFAS contamination by listing PFAS as hazardous substances under the CERCLA Act or the Superfund Law.

  • Protect our communities and workers, especially our firefighters, who come into contact with these harmful products on a regular basis.

If you haven’t already, please sign this petition to ask your Senators to vote in favor of the Senate version of the PFAS Action Act.

PFAS Test Kits – GIFT a KIT!
Freshwater Future believes everyone has a right to know what is in their drinking water, regardless of what’s in their wallets. We have partnered with the University of Michigan Biological Station and other donors to offer PFAS testing for homes on private wells at reduced rates. You can help make our kits even more accessible by selecting Gift a Kit at check out. We’ll use your donation to send a kit to someone else as part of our “Pay What You Can Program”. Get (or gift) your test kits today!

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

Alexis Smith