Water Access: As moratoria on shutoffs end, old problems return to the forefront

As moratoria expire across the Great Lakes region, advocates say ongoing affordability and debt relief are key.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/04/water-shutoffs-debt-infrastructure/

Kari Lydersen

The problem within: Biden targets lead pipes, pushes equity

CHICAGO (AP) — In the modest bungalows and two-flats of Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood, there’s never a shortage of needed home repairs staring residents in the face. And then there is the less obvious but more ominous problem lurking in their pipes.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/04/the-problem-within-biden-targets-lead-pipes-pushes-equity/

The Associated Press

Spotlight on Infrastructure: Policy executive talks new Biden plan, definitions of infrastructure

While President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan, officially the American Jobs Plan, emanates from the White House, a veteran Chicago policy executive says we should consider its genesis as broader than top down.

“It is something that cities and regions have requested – full partnership with the federal government – for quite some time,” said MarySue Barrett, president of the non-profit Metropolitan Planning Council.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/04/infrastructure-biden-administration-policy-qna/

Gary Wilson

Wisconsin Supreme Court weighs state power to protect water from farm pollutants

This article, first posted here, was republished with permission from Wisconsin Watch.

By Royce Podeszwa and Jim Malewitz, Wisconsin Watch

The state Supreme Court on Monday heard arguments in a case that could determine whether the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources failed to adequately protect water from manure pollution when awarding a permit to a giant dairy farm in northeastern Wisconsin — or whether the agency lacks the authority to issue such restrictions.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/04/wisconsin-supreme-court-protect-water-farm-pollutants/

Wisconsin Watch

Federal Agencies Plan to Investigate Links between PFAS Exposure and Viral Illness

By Brett Walton, Circle of Blue

The Great Lakes News Collaborative includes Bridge Michigan; Circle of Blue; Great Lakes Now at Detroit Public Television; and Michigan Radio, Michigan’s NPR News Leader; who work together to bring audiences news and information about the impact of climate change, pollution, and aging infrastructure on the Great Lakes and drinking water.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/04/federal-agencies-plan-to-investigate-links-between-pfas-exposure-and-viral-illness/

Circle of Blue

Drinking Water News Roundup: Ontario Indigenous lawsuit over water dispute, 50,000 sign up for Flint settlement, Ohio infrastructure loans

From lead pipes to PFAS, drinking water contamination is a major issue plaguing cities and towns all around the Great Lakes. Cleaning up contaminants and providing safe water to everyone is an ongoing public health struggle.

Keep up with drinking water-related developments in the Great Lakes area.

Click on the headline to read the full story:

Indiana:

  • Indiana Lawmakers Amend Environment Bills as Deadlines Near – Chicago Tribune

Dozens of amendments to bills affecting Indiana environmental policy have sparked debate among lawmakers as the Legislature enters its final stretch of the session.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/04/drinking-water-ontario-dispute-flint-settlement-ohio-infrastructure/

Grace Dempsey

Local Governments, Organizations Ask Indiana Legislators to Consider Alternatives to Bill Repealing State Wetland Protections

By Enrique Saenz, Indiana Environmental Reporter

More than 60 organizations, including local governments, environmental and conservation groups and water management agencies, sent a letter to Indiana state legislators, asking them to consider policy changes instead of supporting a bill seeking to remove all state protections for Indiana wetlands.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/04/local-governments-environmental-organizations-indiana-legislators-state-wetland-protections/

Indiana Environmental Reporter

PFAS News Roundup: Michigan governor invokes defense bill, high levels in Minnesota landfills, business lobby sues Wisconsin DNR

PFAS, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a group of widespread man-made chemicals that don’t break down in the environment or the human body and have been flagged as a major contaminant in sources of water across the country.

Keep up with PFAS-related developments in the Great Lakes area.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/04/michigan-governor-minnesota-landfills-wisconsin-business-dnr/

Natasha Blakely

In Broad Strokes, Biden Infrastructure Plan Sketches a Future for Federal Water Spending

By Brett Walton, Circle of Blue

The Great Lakes News Collaborative includes Bridge Michigan; Circle of Blue; Great Lakes Now at Detroit Public Television; and Michigan Radio, Michigan’s NPR News Leader; who work together to bring audiences news and information about the impact of climate change, pollution, and aging infrastructure on the Great Lakes and drinking water.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/04/biden-infrastructure-plan-future-federal-water-spending/

Circle of Blue

Recently, the U.S. Congress passed a pandemic relief bill, that contains a number of water utility related provisions. Known as the American Rescue Plan of 2021, the bill includes $500 million to states and tribes to provide assistance to residents for water utility bills and a large sum of cash to the states to use for investments in drinking and wastewater infrastructure, among other things.

Just this March, an association of larger water providers sent a memo to their member utilities and municipalities about starting conversations with decision-makers regarding their need and desire for funding from this relief bill. Specifically, utilities may want to reach out to city managers, mayors, or similar local officials to advocate on behalf of the utility and municipality with the Governor’s office and state agencies for a portion of the funding. Chances are, many utilities in communities with lesser means or a smaller rate base are not receiving this information.

This could put many communities at a disadvantage for funding if conversations and their needs are not being elevated to Governors and the appropriate state agencies, particularly in communities where many residents are already struggling to pay their water bills.

What You Can Do for Your Community

We encourage you and your partners to reach out to your water utilities. Suggest the utility(-ies) talk with their local elected officials about communicating with the Governor and the appropriate state agency about:

How much money is needed to cover residents’ water bills and the utility’s water infrastructure priority issues in your locality, such as lead service line replacement, busted pipes that are leaking water, etc.
Press your utility and local elected officials to request these dollars be distributed based on percentage of poverty, not just looking at communities as a whole, but neighborhoods of poverty within cities that may have more means.

Don’t Wait. There is no clear guidance on when this funding will be disbursed to the states. But with other utilities making their case, now is the time for communities to begin dialogues with the Governor and state agency(-ies).


Specific to Michigan Communities

On March 23rd, 2021, Governor Whitmer’s office held a webinar outlining how $557 millon from the American Rescue Plan of 2021 for water related funding, coupled with other state funding sources, will be allocated in Michigan. The state will be providing the following:

  • $55 million in grants to schools for drinking water filters
  • $102 million for disadvantaged communities to replace their lead service lines
  • $40.5 million for water and wastewater utilities to plan for upgrades, repairs, or replacement and a way to pay for these actions
  • $35 million for drinking water infrastructure upgrades
  • $25 million for utilities for contamination risk reduction
  • $7.5 million for water affordability and planning for water affordability programs
  • $235 million for wastewater infrastructure upgrades and increasing green infrastructure
  • $20 million for the elimination of sewage discharges during wet weather
  • $35 million to upgrade or replace failing home sewage septic systems.

For more information, please contact Kristy Meyer at kristy@freshwaterfuture.org, (231) 348-8200 ext. 7

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/policy-memo/12262/

Freshwater Future

Is the Line 5 tunnel a bridge to Michigan’s energy future or a bad deal?

With climate action on the state and national agenda, critics of Enbridge Line 5 warn that investing in new pipeline infrastructure undermines Michigan’s pathway to carbon neutrality. Experts say it’s not so simple.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/04/enbridge-line-5-tunnel-michigan-energy-future-or-bad-deal/

Bridge Michigan

Judge rejects effort to extend sign-up for Flint water cash

DETROIT (AP) — A judge on Friday rejected a sudden effort to extend Monday’s deadline to register for a share of a $641 million Flint water lawsuit settlement.

U.S. District Judge Judith Levy said she won’t upset a well-publicized 60-day deadline that was baked into a settlement involving Flint, the state of Michigan, residents who were exposed to lead-contaminated water, and other parties.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/03/ap-judge-rejects-effort-to-extend-sign-up-for-flint-water-cash/

The Associated Press

Drinking Water News Roundup: New York water standards deferrals, microplastics in Pennsylvania

From lead pipes to PFAS, drinking water contamination is a major issue plaguing cities and towns all around the Great Lakes. Cleaning up contaminants and providing safe water to everyone is an ongoing public health struggle.

Keep up with drinking water-related developments in the Great Lakes area.

Click on the headline to read the full story:

Illinois:

  • Brain-damaging Lead Found in Tap Water From Most Illinois Communities During the Past 6 Years – Chicago Tribune

More than 8 of every 10 Illinoisans live in a community where brain-damaging lead was found in the tap water of at least one home during the past six years, a new Chicago Tribune analysis found.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/03/drinking-water-news-new-york-microplastics-pennsylvania/

Grace Dempsey

Drinking Water News Roundup: New York water standards deferrals, microplastics in Pennsylvania

From lead pipes to PFAS, drinking water contamination is a major issue plaguing cities and towns all around the Great Lakes. Cleaning up contaminants and providing safe water to everyone is an ongoing public health struggle.

Keep up with drinking water-related developments in the Great Lakes area.

Click on the headline to read the full story:

Illinois:

  • Brain-damaging Lead Found in Tap Water From Most Illinois Communities During the Past 6 Years – Chicago Tribune

More than 8 of every 10 Illinoisans live in a community where brain-damaging lead was found in the tap water of at least one home during the past six years, a new Chicago Tribune analysis found.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/03/drinking-water-news-new-york-microplastics-pennsylvania/

Grace Dempsey

Pollution concerns lead to bottled water for French Island

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said Thursday that the state will provide free bottled water to about 4,300 residents of French Island in La Crosse County due to concerns about groundwater pollution from PFAS “forever chemicals” that have been linked to causing cancer and a wide array of other illnesses.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/03/ap-pollution-concerns-bottled-water-french-island/

The Associated Press

Michigan’s Rural Water Systems Confront Generations of Inadequate Investment

A critical juncture is reached for providing water to rural communities around the region.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/03/michigan-rural-water-systems-generations-inadequate-investment/

Circle of Blue

Priority Shift: Great Lakes exec moves environmental justice to top of list

Chicago’s Joel Brammeier came of age advocating for the Great Lakes in an era when federal programs that are widely accepted today like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative were barely on the drawing board.

Brammeier started his advocacy work in 2001 when he managed habitat programs for the Lake Michigan Federation, which later became the Alliance for the Great Lakes as its mission expanded.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/03/great-lakes-environmental-justice-priority/

Gary Wilson

H2Ohio: Agency directors focus on wetlands, farmer subsidies, replacing lead lines

The first full-year report for Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s much-publicized H2Ohio water quality initiative is out.

Introduced in 2019, the plan has already reaped benefits for Ohio residents and will continue to expand in its scope, according to officials charged with its implementation.

The report was offered in a web presentation by Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Dorothy Pelanda, Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Mary Mertz and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Laurie Stevenson.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/03/h2ohio-agency-directors-wetlands-lead-agriculture/

James Proffitt

Save Water, Save Nature:  Kids calendar art contest promotes healthy water management

Hundreds of artistic entries from 4th and 5th grade students came in for this year’s Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner’s Kids Clean Water Calendar Contest, and Great Lakes Now Host Ward Detwiler had to decide which drawings would be printed for each month.

“Fortunately, because I’d done this last year, I knew how hard it was going to be,” Detwiler said.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/03/kids-calendar-art-contest-healthy-water-management/

Sandra Svoboda

Some cities are turning to natural infrastructure to deal with extreme rain events

Climate change in the Great Lakes region means more intense storms. Already some towns are finding they’re flooding where they never have before. One city in Michigan is finding the solution is nature.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/03/cities-natural-infrastructure-extreme-rain-events/

Michigan Radio

Wetlands can help prevent property damage and save lives during floods

Last year when the Midland dams gave way, more than 21 billion gallons of water rushed into the Tittabawassee River. More than three and a quarter billion gallons of that ended up in the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/03/wetlands-property-damage-save-lives-floods/

Michigan Radio

Treaty Rights Acknowledged For First Time in Oil Pipeline’s Controversial History

By Elena Bruess, Circle of Blue

The Great Lakes News Collaborative includes Bridge Michigan; Circle of Blue; Great Lakes Now at Detroit Public Television; and Michigan Radio, Michigan’s NPR News Leader; who work together to bring audiences news and information about the impact of climate change, pollution, and aging infrastructure on the Great Lakes and drinking water.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/03/treaty-rights-line-5-oil-pipelines-controversial-history/

Circle of Blue

PFAS News Roundup: Indiana introduces PFAS bills, Michigan citizens unhappy about 8-month disclosure delay

PFAS, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a group of widespread man-made chemicals that don’t break down in the environment or the human body and have been flagged as a major contaminant in sources of water across the country.

Keep up with PFAS-related developments in the Great Lakes area.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/03/pfas-news-roundup-indiana-introduces-pfas-bills-michigan-citizens-unhappy-about-8-month-disclosure-delay/

Natasha Blakely

Drinking Water News Roundup: Lead in NY schools, Minnesota water exhibit, Wisconsin water week

From lead pipes to PFAS, drinking water contamination is a major issue plaguing cities and towns all around the Great Lakes. Cleaning up contaminants and providing safe water to everyone is an ongoing public health struggle.

Keep up with drinking water-related developments in the Great Lakes area.

Click on the headline to read the full story:

Illinois:

  • Eaton Boil Water Advisory Lifted – Star Press

A boil water advisory announced Thursday for the town of Eaton has been lifted after the issue was repaired and testing showed the water was safe, the town announced Saturday night.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/03/drinking-water-great-lakes-lead-schools-minnesota-water-exhibit-wisconsin/

Grace Dempsey

HotSpots H2O: Canadian Government Misses Target to End Water Insecurity for First Nations Communities

By Elena Bruess, Circle of Blue

The Great Lakes News Collaborative includes Bridge Michigan; Circle of Blue; Great Lakes Now at Detroit Public Television; and Michigan Radio, Michigan’s NPR News Leader; who work together to bring audiences news and information about the impact of climate change, pollution, and aging infrastructure on the Great Lakes and drinking water.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/03/canadian-government-water-insecurity-first-nations-communities/

Circle of Blue

U of M team makes discovery about Lake Erie dead zone

By Lester Graham, Michigan Radio 

The Great Lakes News Collaborative includes Bridge Michigan; Circle of Blue; Great Lakes Now at Detroit Public Television; and Michigan Radio, Michigan’s NPR News Leader; who work together to bring audiences news and information about the impact of climate change, pollution, and aging infrastructure on the Great Lakes and drinking water.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/03/university-michigan-discovery-lake-erie-dead-zone/

Michigan Radio

Biden EPA to reconsider Trump rule on lead in drinking water

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — The Biden administration said Wednesday it was delaying the effective date of a policy intended to prevent lead pollution of drinking water, continuing a decades-old debate over how to remove a serious health hazard to children.

The Environmental Protection Agency said it was suspending a regulatory rewrite completed by the Trump administration in December, which is being challenged in court by numerous states and advocacy groups.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/03/ap-biden-epa-trump-rule-lead-drinking-water/

The Associated Press

Lake Superior Winter: Researchers belatedly turn their eyes to the impact of warming winters

Deep below the cold, dark surface of Lake Superior, sensors strung like pearls along a vertical steel cable sway with the currents. Recording the lake’s dropping temperatures as winter sets in, their gentle rhythm belies their worrying readings: the lake is getting warmer.

Jay Austin heaved several of these science experiments off a boat last fall – tossing concrete blocks into the deep water to anchor the cable of sensors stretching down from floating platforms just below the surface.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/03/lake-superior-researchers-impact-warming-winters/

Sharon Oosthoek

Lawyers seeking 32% of $641M Flint tainted water settlement

DETROIT (AP) — Lawyers who negotiated a $641 million settlement for victims of Flint’s lead-contaminated water are asking a judge to set aside up to 32% for fees and expenses for years of work on the case.

If granted, the request would total $202 million in fees and $7 million in expenses for dozens of attorneys who made a deal with the state of Michigan, Flint, a hospital and an engineering firm, according to a court filing Monday.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/03/ap-lawyers-32-percent-641m-flint-tainted-water-settlement/

The Associated Press

Too few farmers are curbing pollution in Lake Erie. Should they be forced?

As climate change complicates Lake Erie’s algae problem, scientists say farmers must do far more to reduce phosphorus runoff. But will enough farmers change their ways without a government mandate?

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/03/farmers-pollution-lake-erie-regulations/

Bridge Michigan

City of La Crosse sues foam-makers over PFAS pollution

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — The city of La Crosse filed a lawsuit Thursday against a host of chemical manufacturers that produced firefighting foam linked to groundwater contamination around the city’s airport.

Tests have revealed at least 40 wells around the airport on French Island are contaminated with man-made chemicals known as PFAS.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/03/ap-la-crosse-sues-foam-makers-pfas-pollution/

The Associated Press

Rights vs. Regulations: When it comes to septic system codes, property rights remain a big barrier

With warming temperatures, fluctuating water levels and a series of extreme storms, Lake Superior is undergoing dramatic alterations amid climate change.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/03/michigan-regulations-septic-system-codes-property-rights/

Natasha Blakely

Drinking Water News Roundup: Climate change and Illinois water withdrawals, clean water for Michigan students

From lead pipes to PFAS, drinking water contamination is a major issue plaguing cities and towns all around the Great Lakes. Cleaning up contaminants and providing safe water to everyone is an ongoing public health struggle.

Keep up with drinking water-related developments in the Great Lakes area.

Click on the headline to read the full story:

Illinois:

More Illinois Residents Are Turning to Lake Michigan for Their Drinking Water.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/02/drinking-water-climate-change-withdrawals-michigan-quebec-first-nations/

Grace Dempsey

Pilot state program seeks to reduce water waste in homes

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Some residents in southwestern Michigan and the Detroit area will get plumbing repairs in their homes as part of a new initiative to reduce water waste.

Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy said the “Water Leak Pilot” program is expected to highlight the benefits of reducing water waste for consumers, water suppliers and the overall community.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/02/ap-pilot-michigan-program-reduce-water-waste-homes/

The Associated Press

Nestlé Exit: North American bottled water brands sold to investment firm

The years-long saga surrounding Nestlé and its Michigan groundwater withdrawals comes to an end – in a way – as Nestlé withdraws from the situation, selling its North American water brands to another corporation.

Nestlé announced this week that it unloaded a number of U.S. and Canadian brands, including Poland Spring Brand 100% Natural Spring Water, Ice Mountain Brand 100% Natural Spring Water and Pure Life.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/02/nestle-north-america-bottled-water-brands-sold-investment-firm/

Natasha Blakely

Road Salt: Researchers look at vegetables and juices for alternatives to salt

Salt-speckled sidewalks, driveways and highways are synonymous with winter in the Great Lakes region. But while road salt is highly effective at deicing surfaces, the safety that salt provides for humans places a heavy burden on freshwater ecosystems.

“We have an unhealthy addiction to road salt,” said Claire Oswald, a hydrologist and associate professor at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/02/road-salt-reducing-usage-great-lakes-freshwater-ecosystem/

Kathy Johnson

Drinking Water Roundup: Dispute between two Waukeshas over Lake Michigan diversion, Ontario infrastructure grants

From lead pipes to PFAS, drinking water contamination is a major issue plaguing cities and towns all around the Great Lakes. Cleaning up contaminants and providing safe water to everyone is an ongoing public health struggle.

Keep up with drinking water-related developments in the Great Lakes area.

Click on the headline to read the full story:

Illinois:

  • Joliet Under Boil Advisory After Water Main Breaks – WGN9 TV

A series of water main breaks in Joliet this week prompted a boil water order in case of cross contamination during repairs.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/02/drinking-water-waukesha-lake-michigan-groundwater-contamination-ontario/

Grace Dempsey

PFAS News Roundup: Minnesota sets new PFAS blueprint, Biden EPA dumps PFAS assessment over ‘political interference’

PFAS, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a group of widespread man-made chemicals that don’t break down in the environment or the human body and have been flagged as a major contaminant in sources of water across the country.

Keep up with PFAS-related developments in the Great Lakes area.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/02/pfas-minnesota-biden-epa-regulations/

Natasha Blakely

What Doesn’t Happen at Scientific Meetings (But Should)

Stephanie Smith, Freshwater Future’s Board Chair, talks about her recent collaborative work with scientists and groups in the African Great Lakes region. (Photo: Stephanie pictured with her family at Murchison Falls in Uganda.)

I looked out at the expanse of 90+ scientists from 17 different countries, most located around the seven African Great Lakes. They were seated around tables as relative strangers. I knew that once I asked my question, I couldn’t predict the range of responses, but I asked it anyway. “If we’re successful with this transboundary collaboration across the African Great Lakes region, what will the news headlines say in 5 years?”

I think a lot about big questions related to water. There’s an expression that says: “Water is life.” This is true, and water is also my life. After 17 years working on the North American Great Lakes, I now work as a global consultant facilitating collaboration for the health of people and the planet. My work emphasizes equity and justice that results in clean, accessible, affordable water and mitigates climate change impacts. I maintain my Great Lakes roots by serving on Freshwater Future’s board of directors.

For this event, I was in Entebbe, Uganda, working with the African Center for Aquatic Research and Education. We were laying groundwork for the first transboundary lake advisory groups for the African Great Lakes – a big step towards healthier lakes that many communities rely on for drinking water and fish.

Our event was a 10 minute walk to Lake Victoria, the second largest lake in the world by surface area – second only to Lake Superior. There are six other African Great Lakes (Albert, Edward, Kivu, Malawi/Niassa/Nyasa, Tanganyika, and Turkana), bordered by 10 countries. Every lake has at least 2 bordering countries, which brings an added geopolitical dimension. They comprise 25% of the world’s surface freshwater, even more than the North American Great Lakes. Fifty million lives depend on these lakes for their welfare and their livelihoods every day. The future of a lot of freshwater – and the people who depend on it – was at stake in this workshop.

Returning to my question about news headlines in 5 years, here’s what was unpredictable. I was asking meeting attendees to focus on the big picture of a future, multi-national vision. Many researchers and lake managers habitually focus solely on one part of their lake, within their country. And, they often focused on very specific aspects of that lake – that’s their job. The political relationships between some bordering countries are not always easy to navigate. My job was to help attendees develop what I hoped would become a shared future vision for all of the African Great Lakes. A successful collaboration depended on this perspective.

Researchers later told me that my “activity” wasn’t “what usually happens” at scientific meetings. But many saw the point. Because here’s what happened: despite their differences in perspective, geography, and focus, what they composed had consistently clear, cross-border unity with a collective vision.

Here are some of the headlines we saw emerge:

  • African Great Lakes Water Now Fishable, Swimmable and Drinkable
  • Eureka! Fish stocks in African Great Lakes Increasing
  • Researchers Team up to Influence Policy for Healthy African Great Lakes
  • Harmonized African Great Lakes Collaboration Optimizes Economic Benefits and Ecosystem Health

The next day, attendees began working together in groups that did not know each other, although these groups shared a common lake. What we all were beginning to realize was that they collectively held very common hopes and a shared vision for healthy lakes and communities.

Fast forward a year later – these groups now meet regularly. We are learning from each other. We are moving the needle on much needed progress for the African Great Lakes and those who rely on them. We continue asking big questions and try to address them, together:

  • Whose voices and ideas are missing from our discussion table?
  • As we break down silos, what bridges do we need to build?
  • How can we magnify strength by lifting each other up?

Water connects us all. I serve on Freshwater Future’s Board of Directors because I believe deeply in the power of communities to protect and enhance global waterways so that all can access clean, affordable drinking water and be resilient as they face climate change impacts. This is work Freshwater Future does with head and heart fully engaged, resulting in vital systemic successes on the path to water equity.

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/drinking-water/board-spotlight-stephanie-smith-board-chair/

Leslie Burk

Feb. 2, 2021

By Jennifer A. Smith

It can be easy to take clean drinking water for granted; we turn on our taps and simply expect it to be there. At the same time, safe water is priceless. Yet putting a price on water is just what environmental economist James Price is doing as part of a University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute-funded study. Specifically, Price is comparing the relative costs of protecting groundwater at it source versus treating that water at a plant.

Dr. James Price (submitted photo).

“The overarching objective here is to understand the relationship between source water quality and the cost of treating drinking water,” said Price, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences.

This work will help groundwater community water systems in Wisconsin make smart, cost-effective decisions.

Over the course of his two-year study, which is in its early stages, Price will consider both short-term costs at treatment plants (such as labor and chemicals needed for water treatment) and long-term costs (like capital expenses). He’ll also factor in the connections between source water quality and the choice of specific treatment technologies.

Much of the data needed for Price’s analysis is publicly available, but it still needs to be compiled from various sources and reformatted in a way that will let him run his analyses. “The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin has a great data set on water treatment costs… and then the Wisconsin DNR has some information on source water quality,” he said.

Francesca Sanchez, a graduate student in the professional master’s degree track at the School of Freshwater Sciences, is aiding in the data cleanup that will make the project possible. That data may be supplemented by an internet-based survey sent to specific contacts at water treatment plants.

The study appears to be the first of its kind looking solely at groundwater (other cost-related studies on drinking water have looked at surface water, or a combination of surface and groundwater).

Groundwater is an important resource in Wisconsin; seven in 10 people in the state depend on it for their water supply. (Photo: Simon Kadula from Pixabay)

Groundwater is abundant in Wisconsin and it is a critical resource: seven in 10 Wisconsinites and 97 percent of the state’s inland communities depend on groundwater for their water supply.

Price is relatively new to Wisconsin, having arrived at UW-Milwaukee in mid-2019. Previously, he did a postdoctoral fellowship at Brock University in Ontario, where he worked on a project that was somewhat similar but not focused on groundwater. That project looked at the relationship between the cost of treating drinking water in Canada and turbidity levels driven by forest fires.

Then, he moved on the Environmental Protection Agency in Cincinnati and looked at different land uses around well heads, source water intake and their effects on water treatment costs. Study results suggest that forestland is associated with lower treatment costs, while agricultural and urban land are associated with higher costs.

Being able to incorporate capital costs in his current WRI-funded project will offer a new angle, said Price. Few prior studies have had the information needed to factor in those costs. He’s also hoping to look at a wider range of contaminants than many prior studies have.

The end result should be actionable information for local water providers in Wisconsin. “From a community water provider’s perspective, their goal is to provide clean water at an affordable price, and so they need to consider the relative costs and benefits of treating in-plant versus protecting water at the source,” he said. “I imagine that this information will be of interest to water providers who are considering source water protection, and they’ll be interested in what kind of benefit that might mean long-term, down the road.”

The post UW-Milwaukee researcher will help water utilities make cost-conscious decisions first appeared on WRI.

Original Article

News Release – WRI

News Release – WRI

https://www.wri.wisc.edu/news/uw-milwaukee-researcher-will-help-water-utilities-make-cost-conscious-decisions/

Jennifer Smith

PFAS News Roundup: PFAS found in Indigenous household wells, Wisconsin experimental treatment fails, WDNR fish concerns

PFAS, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a group of widespread man-made chemicals that don’t break down in the environment or the human body and have been flagged as a major contaminant in sources of water across the country.

Keep up with PFAS-related developments in the Great Lakes area.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/02/pfas-michigan-indigenous-wisconsin-fish-dnr-legislation/

Natasha Blakely

Drinking Water News Roundup: Joliet picks Chicago, Minnesota road salt, Ohio EPA loans

From lead pipes to PFAS, drinking water contamination is a major issue plaguing cities and towns all around the Great Lakes. Cleaning up contaminants and providing safe water to everyone is an ongoing public health struggle.

Keep up with drinking water-related developments in the Great Lakes area.

Click on the headline to read the full story:

Illinois:

  • Joliet Council Picks Chicago, Not Hammond, to Supply City’s Drinking Water –  Northwest Indiana Times

The city council in Joliet, Illinois has chosen Chicago to be its next water source, despite efforts by Hammond officials to persuade them otherwise.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/01/chicago-lake-michigan-minnesota-road-salt/

Grace Dempsey

For Immediate Release
January 28, 2021

Contact:
Jill Ryan, Executive Director
(231) 348-8200
Jill@freshwaterfuture.org

Petoskey, MI – Today Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Debbie Dingell re-introduced the Emergency Water is a Human Right bill. The legislation prohibits any public utility receiving federal funds authorized under the act from turning off energy and water services to Americans who cannot afford to pay their utility bills during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, it creates a Low-Income Household Drinking Water and Wastewater Assistance Program for residents struggling to pay their water utility bills.

Jill Ryan, Executive Director of Freshwater Future, states, “We applaud Representatives Tlaib and Dingell for introducing legislation to keep water services flowing to Americans who cannot afford to pay their utility bills during the COVID-19 pandemic. An unprecedented number of Americans are out of work, have children learning remotely, and many are without access to running tap water in their homes. Clean, safe, and affordable water is essential to good public health and our economy. “

Ryan also notes, “A recent study confirms that a moratorium on utility disconnections reduces COVID-19 infections and saves lives. We urge Congress to swiftly pass the Emergency Water is a Human Right legislation and look forward to working with our partners and Representatives Tlaib and Dingell to ensure all Americans have access to clean, safe, and affordable water during and after COVID-19.”

A full text of the bill can be found here.

####

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/drinking-water/freshwater-future-applauds-congresswomen-tlaib-dingells-reintroduction-of-emergency-water-is-a-human-right/

Leslie Burk

PFAS News Roundup: PFAS in Lake Superior smelt, McDonalds drops PFAS packaging, White House weakened EPA guidelines

PFAS, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a group of widespread man-made chemicals that don’t break down in the environment or the human body and have been flagged as a major contaminant in sources of water across the country.

Keep up with PFAS-related developments in the Great Lakes area.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/01/pfas-news-lake-superior-smelt-wisconsin-settlement-mcdonalds-epa/

Natasha Blakely

Flint water crisis: Rooted in neglect, fallout continues

Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, his health director and other ex-officials have been told they’re being charged after a new investigation of the Flint water scandal, The Associated Press has learned.

Questions and answers about the crisis that made Flint a symbol of the nation’s decaying drinking water infrastructure:

WHAT HAPPENED, AND HOW?

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/01/ap-flint-water-crisis-fallout-continues/

The Associated Press

Michigan plans to charge ex-Gov. Snyder in Flint water probe

DETROIT (AP) — Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, his health director and other ex-officials have been told they’re being charged after a new investigation of the Flint water scandal, which devastated the majority Black city with lead-contaminated water and was blamed for a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in 2014-15, The Associated Press has learned.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/01/ap-michigan-plan-charge-ex-gov-snyder-flint-water-probe/

The Associated Press

freshwater-future-non-profit-leadershipDirector’s Note
Jill M. Ryan, Executive Director

Cambridge English Dictionary defines affordability as: the state of being cheap enough for people to be able to buy. When we talk about the affordability of water, we have to start with the question, who is the customer, in order to determine what amount would be affordable for a customer to be able to buy water.

The United Nations for example, provides that the cost of providing water should not exceed 3% of household income, and the combined provision of water and sewer costs should not exceed 5% of household income if they are to be considered affordable. Unfortunately, rather than approaching affordability from the perspective of customers, we often learn that water is becoming or has become unaffordable only when people lose access to water because they couldn’t pay their water bill. In other words, we set water rates based on the need to meet expenses of our water utilities, rather than considering why water provision costs are rising and causing water to become unaffordable and addressing that problem head on.

Two of the big reasons for rising water costs at utilities are: aging water infrastructure that has been largely ignored for more than a century causing a century-old bill to come due for past unmet maintenance needs and increasing costs of treating water to remove contaminants such as lead, PFAS, bacteria, etc. Due to increased knowledge of the health impacts of emerging contaminants such as PFAS and lead, these two costs are being realized across the country at the same time and we must find solutions that allow us to focus on providing clean and safe water at affordable rates rather than continuing to pretend we can just increase rates for customers beyond their ability to pay.

As a recent report from Michigan State University by Dr. Elizabeth Mack, and others, explains, if water rates continue to increase at expected rates, in five years nearly 36% of U.S. households will no longer be able to afford water. To solve this problem, we cannot simply continue to raise rates and plow all of that money back into century-old solutions to our water provision and waste water treatment systems.

Rather, innovation and creativity are needed NOW! We must seize on new technologies and new ideas to build back our water systems in more sustainable ways than ever before. Technologies such as turbines in water pipes are already being implemented; ideas such as developing natural solutions not just to stormwater, but also for treating wastewater and capturing energy in the process must be pursued as tools to reduce costs and improve our infrastructure, not simply replace it.

Freshwater Future believes water is a basic human right and that we must find ways to help everyone be able to pay an affordable water bill and create ways to modernize our infrastructure and the resultant costs. The Great Lakes hold 20% of the Earth’s fresh surface water, and we are considered the wealthiest country in the world, yet an estimated 1,000,000 in our region do not have reliable access to running water. The U.S. also has the biggest wealth gap, and the gap in water affordability is a troubling part of that wealth gap.

Join us today to ensure clean, safe and affordable water for all by signing-on to the platform available on freshwaterfuture.org under Water Affordability.

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/drinking-water/what-is-affordability-and-how-does-it-relate-to-water-infrastructure-and-contamination/

Leslie Burk

Demands for change, requests for information pertaining to Flint water settlement

By Amy Diaz, Flint Beat, through the Institute for Nonprofit News network

Flint, MI– A Flint activist and a Flint attorney are each taking action regarding the $641.25 million water lawsuit settlement the City joined two weeks ago.

Flint City Council voted to approve the city joining the settlement with $20 million of insurance funds, to the dismay of many citizens who were disappointed in the terms and amount of the settlement.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2021/01/demands-change-requests-information-flint-water-settlement/

Flint Beat

Critics say EPA allowing more time to fix lead-tainted water

The Trump administration overhauled the country’s widely criticized, 29-year-old framework to eliminate toxic lead from drinking water on Tuesday last week, but critics charge that the new rule gives utilities far more time than before to finally replace old, lead-contaminated pipes.

The new rules come six years after the Flint, Michigan, water crisis highlighted ongoing, dangerous exposure of children and others in the city to the neurotoxin in drinking water, and the failures of officials on all levels to adequately protect local families at the time.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2020/12/ap-critics-epa-lead-tainted-water/

The Associated Press

Drinking Water News Roundup: Joliet water supply, contaminated water, support for Wisconsin farmers and water quality

From lead pipes to PFAS, drinking water contamination is a major issue plaguing cities and towns all around the Great Lakes. Cleaning up contaminants and providing safe water to everyone is an ongoing public health struggle.

Keep up with drinking water-related developments in the Great Lakes area.

Click on the headline to read the full story:

Illinois:

  • Chicago Competing With Hammond To Supply Joliet With Drinking Water From Lake Michigan – CBS Chicago

The aquifer that supplies Chicago suburb Joliet’s drinking water is expected to dry up by 2030.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2020/12/water-withdrawal-contaminated-farmers-water-quality/

Grace Dempsey