Minority communities question election-year push by EPA

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Theresa Landrum lives in southwest Detroit, where residents complain frequently about dirty air. Tree-shaded neighborhoods with schools, churches and parks lie on either side of an interstate highway and in the shadow of a sprawling oil refinery that belches soot and fumes.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2020/10/ap-minority-communities-question-election-year-push-epa/

The Associated Press

Explainer: Who regulates U.S. drinking water, and how?

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/2020/10/explainer-regulates-drinking-water/

Circle of Blue

Junction Coalition, a Toledo Community Organization, has partnered with Freshwater Future to tackle water related issues such as: lead service lines, harmful algae blooms (HABS), water disconnection, and many more water related disparities directly and indirectly impacting minority and low socioeconomic communities the most. 

Collaborating on the many topics threatening the community; another partner, Blue Conduit, presents themselves to Freshwater Future, pitching a focus on lead line identification utilizing artificial intelligence. Using records provided by the city and water department, assimilates the information and produces a predictive algorithm to better, and more accurately pinpoint lead lines throughout the city before a single hole has to be dug. Junction Coalition went to the city urging them to permit the strategy while demonstrating the benefits of cost effectiveness and efficiency resulting in more productive uses of their time and resources. Replacing lead lines can cost approximately $3,000 – $10,000 per home which can be expensive when using a portion of funds for trial and error locating lead lines which became very clear to the city thus making Blue Conduit the superior option.

Experts from all around the city pooled together their time, expertise, and resources from University of Toledo, Lucas County Health Department, the City, Blue Conduit, Freshwater Future, and Junction Coalition to devise a plan to appropriate the funding necessary to utilize artificial intelligence to pinpoint lead lines. Once the plan was conjured it was sent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) with the funding request led by the city of Toledo entitled Using Artificial Intelligence to Reduce Lead Exposure proposal. This past Monday the Director of Environmental Justice Environmental Protection Agency, Matthew Tajeda, responded to the fund with an approval of $200,000 for the proposal. Granting the proposal permits Blue Conduit to generate more actionable data faster for the city of Toledo and allow them to accelerate the removal of lead lines while developing and implementing an educational campaign aimed at the most vulnerable communities to reduce the exposure to lead from residents as they replace the lines within Toledo. 

The City, BlueConduit, Freshwater Future, The University of Toledo, Toledo-Lucas County Health Department and local partners therefore propose this project with the goal of reducing lead exposure, through well-tested, data-driven prioritization techniques. Using a predictive model, this project will assess home-by-home water service line material probabilities based on existing parcel and neighborhood-level data and a representative sample of water service lines in the city taken by the project team. These probabilities will guide which homes should receive targeted education, water filters and ultimately the prioritization of the lead service line (LSL) replacement program. Throughout the entirety of this project, stakeholder meetings will be held and educational materials will be created with a focus on these high-risk communities, with the goal of minimizing resident lead exposure. This proposal, led by the City, combines the technical task of identifying lead lines, conducted by Blue Conduit, with a community education effort, to be implemented by the non-profit Freshwater Future.

For this project, Freshwater Future will work with grassroots community groups in Toledo to reach residents in the most vulnerable neighborhoods (6 identified residential environmental justice communities) to disseminate information and educational materials about lead in water; proper filter use and maintenance; reducing exposure during lead line replacements; and community participatory actions for water quality control. Freshwater Future is prepared to provide an online platform of education and services to ensure the safety of community members and supplement with on-the-ground when possible. Freshwater Future will work with community partners regarding public health and water quality as it relates to disenfranchised communities.  We will provide four video-trainings for communities on water filter installation, proper filter use and maintenance.  The training will provide background on health impacts of lead exposure and access to community and health department resources.  Instruction on using personal protective equipment during pandemics will be covered. These training will benefit all partners through education, navigation of resources and public health. In addition, we will provide training on collection of water samples for lead analysis and test up to 60 homes identified through the Blue Conduit mapping process. 

Freshwater Future brings extensive experience in working with grassroots community groups and environmental justice communities following a strict code of principles for collaborating with community.  As mentioned earlier, we have worked for several years on helping communities with lead in water issues.  We are also fortunate to have staff members who are Toledo residents with deep ties to several of the targeted communities, starting from a position of shared trust.  In addition, we will provide funding for the citizen science testing of resident wells.

We look forward to being a part of this innovative project to provide critical data that the City of Toledo can use to ultimately speed-up lead line replacements, reducing lead exposure to Toledo’s most vulnerable residents while engaging residents in understanding more about water threats and actions that protect public health.

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/uncategorized/city-of-toledo-receives-epa-grant-to-utilize-artificial-intelligence-to-identify-lead-water-lines/

Alexis Smith

Citizen Excellence: Sandy Wynn-Stelt receives EPA award for efforts to combat PFAS

Sandy Wynn-Stelt, a resident of Belmont, Michigan, known for her fight against Wolverine World Wide and PFAS, earned the 2020 Citizen Excellence in Community Involvement Award from the U.S. EPA.

Wynn-Stelt is featured in Great Lakes Now’s documentary, “The Forever Chemicals,” which brought audiences the story of her journey as she discovered the extent of the PFAS contamination in her private well and in her community.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2020/09/citizen-excellence-sandy-wynn-stelt-receives-epa-award-for-efforts-to-combat-pfas/

Natasha Blakely

EPA Region 5 refutes internal watchdog report finding possible major issues in record keeping

By Enrique Saenz, Indiana Environmental Reporter

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regional office in the Midwest is refuting the findings of an internal investigation that found that a lack of record-keeping controls and standard operating procedures could be preventing it from fulfilling federal record-keeping responsibilities.

The EPA’s Office of Inspector General found that Region 5, which oversees EPA activities in Indiana and five other states, could not verify whether employees were using the agency’s official record-keeping system, preserving records for litigation holds and agency use, or knew how to report and investigate a suspected loss of records.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2020/09/epa-region-5-internal-watchdog-report-record-keeping/

Indiana Environmental Reporter

August 06, 2020

This week: U.S. EPA Weakens Rules for Toxic Waste Ponds for Coal-fired Power Plants + New York Adds Water Safeguards To Remove Emerging Contaminants + Action Request–Ask Legislators to Include Water Service in COVID Relief Package + Apply for a Freshwater Future Grant Today


U.S. EPA Weakens Rules for Toxic Waste Ponds for Coal-fired Power Plants

The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adopted rules that  favor electric utilities extending the use  of toxic coal ash ponds for decades. A recent assessment found 91 percent of the ponds are leaching contaminants into drinking water and groundwater. The new regulations are filled with loopholes; some coal ash ponds will remain until 2038 though the initial cleanup deadline was set for 2021. With majority coal ash ponds surrounding Environmental Justice communities, who regardless of race, color, national origin or income are entitled to equal protection from environmental harms and risks, will face health consequences.


New York Adds Water Safeguards For Some Emerging Contaminants

Testing standards are raised in New York to address three emerging contaminants found in drinking water – PFOA, PFOS (“forever chemicals”), and 1,4-dioxane. All water systems are required to test for these harmful chemicals and remove them from the drinking water if above the new standards (10 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS and 1 part per billion for 1,4-dioxane). Although we understand there is more to be done around the many other emerging contaminants, Freshwater Future applauds all the organizations and community members that worked to improve regulations on water quality.

Comparison Chart of State and Canadian Protections


Take Action:  Ask Legislators to Include Water Service in COVID Relief Package

Handwashing is our first line of defense against the spread of COVID-19, and access to clean and safe tap water is a basic human need to protect individuals, families and communities. Please urge your Congresspeople to include the following in the COVID relief package:

  • A national moratorium on water shutoffs and the restoration of residential water services;

  • $50 million in grants to address the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 in environmental justice communities;

  • $12.5 billion in grants to restore or keep water access for communities facing shut offs or toxic water; and

  • $35 billion in funding for waste and drinking water utilities for infrastructure improvements that could create up to nearly one million jobs across the country.

No one should have to worry about how they will wash their hands and masks, cook their food, and get their drinking water. Please take action today.


Apply for a Freshwater Future Grant Today

For 25 years, Freshwater Future has provided grants to community and grassroots groups supporting advocacy efforts to protect or improve drinking water, rivers, lakes, wetlands, shorelines, and groundwater in the Great Lakes region. Check-out Freshwater Future’s 2020 grant opportunities guidelines to see if your organization is eligible. The deadline for Fall Project grant applications is September 30, 2020. Want to learn more? Join us for an informal webinar on August 19, 2020 at noon, register here.

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/uncategorized/freshwater-weekly-august-26-2020/

Alexis Smith

Thousands allowed to bypass environmental rules in pandemic

Thousands of oil and gas operations, government facilities and other sites won permission to stop monitoring for hazardous emissions or otherwise bypass rules intended to protect health and the environment because of the coronavirus outbreak, The Associated Press has found.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2020/08/ap-thousands-allowed-bypass-environmental-rules-pandemic/

The Associated Press

Great Lakes Energy News Roundup: Ohio nuclear bailout repeal, Minnesota coal plants, Georgian Bay hydroelectric plant

Keep up with energy-related developments in the Great Lakes area with Great Lakes Now’s biweekly headline roundup.

In this edition: Great Lakes states join others to sue EPA over new reading of Clean Water Act rule limiting their oversight capacities, Minnesota regulators allow utility company to let coal plants sit idle for half the year, Ontario residents of Georgian Bay lobby against proposed hydroelectric plant, and Ohio’s governor seeks to repeal nuclear bailout.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2020/07/ohio-nuclear-bailout-minnesota-coal-georgian-bay-hydroelectric-epa/

Ian Wendrow

July 24, 2020

This week: Minorities Trust In The Justice System Continues To Dwindle + DNR Captures 18 Invasive Carp From Southwest Minnesota Watershed + Waasekom Niin Embarks On A 28-day Canoe Quest + Fireflies Boom In Ideal Conditions + EPA Removes Name From Report On Glyphosate After Public Question

Minorities’ Trust In The Justice System Continues To Dwindle 

The inequities that have been deeply rooted into our environmental justice system have plagued blacks, hispanics, and indigenious communities for decades. Resulting in more distrust of their water quality and disproportionate water rates. Communities facing the discord have joined with organizations such as Freshwater Future and We The People Of Detroit to establish community organized facilities like the Flint Development Center to test the quality of their own water. Due to the current public health crisis and recent racial outcrys the systemic discrimation toward minorities have captured the attention of many including their white counterparts. Disparities have been demonstrated through the reality of these communities and statistically via highly reputable research centers displaying an undeniable truth that can no longer be undermined. Minorities do not need special treatment, they need to be treated equally.


DNR Captures 18 Invasive Carp From Southwest Minnesota Watershed

The DNR fisheries have implemented eight projects including the Illinois Lake electric barrier as a ploy to contain and capture invasive carp. Eighteen invasive carp were fished out of the water at the southwest Minnesota watershed ranging anywhere from 17-35 inches in size. The last recorded capture was in December securing 2 invasive carp, yet no breeding population has been detected in the states.


Waasekom Niin Embarks On A 28-day Canoe Quest

In an attempt to bring our waters back to the decision making table Waasekom Niin of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) embarks on a 28-day canoe quest along the shore of Lake Huron. As a way to revive the relationship between man and water. SON has been a strong proponent of preserving the water’s dignity and respect while remaining aware of the troubles that are faced both by man and water. Niin’s goal with the canoe trip is to highlight and document these occurrences to strategically share with public officials to further understand the lake’s importance.


Fireflies Boom In Ideal Conditions

There have been more fireflies flickering their luminescent lights than usual due to the ideal wet conditions. As we revel in the beauty they present at night they are in danger. We must do our part to protect them by reducing the amount of artificial light that illuminates the night. Decreasing the amount of light at night will give fireflies the opportunity to better spot their mates’ lights and reproduce allowing future generations to flourish.


EPA Removes Name From Report On Glyphosate After Public Question

The active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, glyphosate, manufactured by chemical company Monsanto has been concluded to be a major cause for cancer. Thousands of people have been diagnosed with lymphoma after being exposed to glyphosate. Since 2015, the director of the National Center for Environmental Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), Dr. Breysse, validated its harmfulness on the EPA’s website which after public questioning was removed by the EPA, protecting the vested interest in Monsanto and the EPA at the expense of the public’s trust.

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/freshwater-weekly/freshwater-weekly-july-27-2020/

Alexis Smith

Trump Cabinet members look to reassure battleground voters

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue tromped through a strawberry festival in central Florida, detailing the government’s new trade pact. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talked about foreign policy at a roundtable in south Florida.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2020/07/ap-trump-cabinet-members-michigan-wisconsin-voters/

The Associated Press

PFAS News Roundup: Potential COVID-19 connection, DOD bill, Michigan lakes and rivers with PFAS foam

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/2020/07/pfas-michigan-foam-pfas-covid-19/

Samantha Cantie

EPA seeks comments on cleanup of Indianapolis Superfund site

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The federal government is seeking the public’s input on its plan to clean up groundwater contamination at a Superfund site in Indianapolis that’s tainted with chemicals used by a dry cleaning company.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that it would accept public comments from June 1 to June 30 on the agency’s proposed cleanup of the Keystone Corridor Ground Water Contamination site.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2020/06/ap-epa-public-comment-indianapolis-superfund-site/

The Associated Press

PFAS News Roundup: EPA says limits will take more than a year, Navy halts shipments to burn plant

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/2020/05/pfas-epa-limits-new-york-burn-plant-wisconsin/

Natasha Blakely

Great Lakes Energy News Roundup: Shale gas and coal groundwater impact, coal ash pollution in Indiana, Ohio EPA OKs mine despite protests

Keep up with energy-related developments in the Great Lakes area with Great Lakes Now’s biweekly headline roundup.

In this edition: Indiana residents are worried about insufficient measures being taken to address pollution during coal ash pond closure; Yale University study could help Ohio homeowners connect water contamination to shale gas and coal industry; Ohio EPA approves Athens County mine despite protests; Supreme Court ruling adopts new standard for Clean Water Act; and states and municipalities might not have the resources to make up for the federal government backing down on enforcement.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2020/04/energy-coal-ohio-indiana-enforcement/

Ian Wendrow

April 24, 2020

This week: Gov. Whitmer’s Water Service Restoration Order Reports Are Available Online + Weak EPA Means More Water Pollution + Environmental Group Finds Elevated PFAS Levels In Creek Sediments + 10-Years Later, Still No Cleanup Plan at Air Force Base + Ignoring COVID-19, Enbridge Wants to Move Forward With Line 5 + Great Lakes Inspire Hope

Gov. Whitmer’s Water Service Restoration Order Reports Are Available Online: Cities Don’t Have Sufficient Information to Find Disconnected Homes

The Restoration Reports from water systems indicate that water service is slowly being restored to Michigan homes with over 1,500 residents getting water turned on in their homes, and we celebrate that change. We also call on the systems to ensure that they take all steps necessary to determine where residents still do not have water and ensure reconnections take place.  Statements in the reports such as cities “giving their best efforts to determine which occupied residences within their service areas do not have water service” is concerning and Freshwater Future is working with many localities to ensure this data is secured as quickly as possible. Governor Whitmer ordered water service restoration as a measure to fight against COVID-19.  Water reconnections are required to be reported to the state as well as posted online for residents. Residents can track the progress in each community by clicking here.

Weak EPA Means More Water Pollution

Weak enforcement of environmental regulations by the EPA under the Trump administration is resulting in more water pollution.  A report released this week shows that since the President took office, compliance with the Clean Water Act has declined significantly, with 62% more facilities in “significant noncompliance” compared with fiscal years 2012-2017. The EPA is initiating over 28% fewer enforcement actions. Unfortunately, many of the facilities out of compliance are located in low-income communities, putting these residents at greater risks for public health threats.  

Environmental Group Finds Elevated PFAS Levels In Creek Sediments

An environmental group, working with a group of teens in East Madison, WI discovered elevated PFAS levels in Starkweather Creek sediment. Governmental agencies assured Midwest Environmental Justice Organization (MEJO) officials PFAS levels were low in the sediment. However, reports showed significantly high PFAS levels of 21,000 parts-per-trillion. MEJO executive director, Maria Powell, PhD, calls on government officials to require more testing to determine health impacts and move forward with cleanup.

10-Years Later, Still No Cleanup Plan at Air Force Base

For a decade, an investigation of PFAS pollution at Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda, MI has been gathering data. Activists and local advisory board members are understandably upset as the Air Force receives $13.5 million only to further the investigation rather than take necessary actions to clean-up the contamination. U.S. Air Force officials state there is no imminent threat to Oscoda’s drinking water, since alternative water supplies are being provided.  However, advisories limit the amount of fish and game that can be eaten in the area and residents are to avoid contact with foamy lake water.

Ignoring COVID-19, Enbridge Wants to Move Forward With Replacement Pipeline and Tunnel

Enbridge owners press Michigan regulators to announce that a permit to replace Line 5 is not needed and that construction can begin. Opponents say permits are needed and the process should be delayed until COVID-19 ends to allow citizens to fully engage in the project. In addition, Enbridge submitted a different set of applications to State and Federal agencies for permits to construct the tunnel.

Great Lakes Inspire Hope

National Geographic Explorer, Amy Sacka reflects on how the Great Lakes inspire hope in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. The amazing people living in the Great Lakes region give us hope, and Freshwater Future staff will continue to take and support action to protect our waters, the life source that connects us all.

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/uncategorized/freshwater-weekly-april-27-2020/

Alexis Smith

Funding Boost: EPA gives Great Lakes extra $20 million but state funding at risk

Even as the federal government is spending trillions of dollars to boost the economy shut down by the COVID-19 virus, Congress has moved to increase funding for the Great Lakes.

The U.S. EPA announced last week that an additional $20 million has been allocated to restore the lakes.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2020/04/epa-glri-extra-20-million-state-funding-at-risk/

Gary Wilson

PFAS News Roundup: Indianapolis and Rhinelander find PFAS, PFAS testing and projects stalled due to COVID-19

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/2020/04/pfas-indiana-wisconsin-testing-covid-19/

Ric Mixter

PFAS News Roundup: Indiana restricts PFAS foam, Wisconsin utility sued, 651 military bases likely polluted

Catch the latest updates on what’s happening with PFAS in Great Lakes Now’s biweekly headline roundup.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2020/03/pfas-indiana-wisconsin-new-york-landfill-military/

Ric Mixter

PFAS Around the Great Lakes Region: Actions taken in each state or province and standards set, if any

The eight Great Lakes states and Canada are approaching PFAS contamination in their own ways and setting their own standards.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2020/03/pfas-standards-actions-state-canada/

Natasha Blakely

Michigan Supreme Court hears case over Flint water liability

DETROIT (AP) — Lawyers urged the Michigan Supreme Court on Wednesday to clear the way for Flint residents to sue state officials over lead-contaminated water.

The case at the state’s highest court is one of many in state and federal courts over the scandal.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2020/03/ap-michigan-supreme-court-flint-water-liability/

The Associated Press

Who’s in charge: Lack of storage facility oversight puts waterways at risk

In major lakeside cities around the Great Lakes, there isn’t a clear answer on who handles oversight of industrial storage facilities.

Read Now at Great Lakes Now.

Original Article

Great Lakes Now

Great Lakes Now

https://www.greatlakesnow.org/2020/03/seawall-inspections-industrial-storage-pollution-government/

Gary Wilson

February 22, 2020

This week:  No Funds in Budget to Stop Asian Carp  + Ohio EPA agrees to  Pollution Limits for Western Lake Erie + Benton Harbor Community Water Council Partners with the City to Solve Lead Issue  + Ice Cover on Great Lakes Low + States Seek Limits on Water Bottling Industry

No Funds in Budget to Stop Asian Carp

Millions of federal dollars are missing in Trump’s budget to install barriers to prevent Asian carp after he promised funding at a January event in Michigan. Funding the implementation of the US Army Corps of Engineers plans for the Brandon Lock Dam is needed to close off this entryway for Asian carp to Lake Michigan.

Ohio EPA Agrees to Pollution Limits for Western Lake Erie

After more than 5 years since Toledo’s 2014 algae-driven water crisis left residents unable to use their water for days, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward with pollution limits called Total Max Daily Load (TDML) aimed at reducing toxic algal blooms.  The pollution limits serve as a pollution diet and are designed to track the specific sources of runoff and hold polluters accountable.  Agriculture is the primary source of nutrient pollution, primarily phosphorus that feeds the harmful algal blooms in Western Lake Erie.

Benton Harbor Community Water Council Partners with The City to Solve Lead Issue

The Benton Harbor Community Water Council recently met with local and state representatives to discuss creative solutions to increase the quality of service to community members facing lead contamination problems. Freshwater Future staff members were on-hand to support and assist with efforts to address drinking water issues.

Ice Cover on Great Lakes Low

The Great Lakes region has experienced a warmer than average winter this season and as a result, ice coverage is at about 15%, down from the average of 55%.  Satellite images from this year, last winter, and 2013-2014 show the extreme differences.

States Seek Limits on Water Bottling Industry

Concerns about water bottling companies depleting groundwater led Washington State legislators to seek regulations that ban the bottled water industry from using groundwater.  Other states, including Michigan and Maine, are considering regulations that increase fees for extraction and licensing.

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

https://freshwaterfuture.org/uncategorized/freshwater-weekly-february-22-2020/

Alexis Smith

Environmental Leaders Urge Army Corps of Engineers to Include Great Lakes Projects in Work Plans

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (Jan 7, 2019) — Last month, a coalition of environmental organizations came together to urge Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) R.D. James and Office of Management Budget Acting Director Russell Vought to include critical Great Lakes Restoration Projects in the FY2020 work plan for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

As threats to the health of the Great Lakes continue to intensify, the coalition urged the Office of Management Budget and the Secretary of the Army to ensure that vital funding for Great Lakes restoration projects remain a priority.

“We are grateful for the much-needed support the region has received with investments leading to on-the-ground results across Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin,” the coalition wrote, “However, the Great Lakes still face many urgent problems and we urge the Corps include projects of critical importance to the Great Lakes in the FY2020 Work Plan. The problems we face will only get worse and the price we pay will be much higher if the federal partnership with the region is delayed or scaled back.”

Read the full letter here.

The post Environmental Leaders Urge Army Corps of Engineers to Include Great Lakes Projects in Work Plan appeared first on Healing Our Waters Coalition.

Original Article

Healing Our Waters Coalition

Healing Our Waters Coalition

https://healthylakes.org/environmental-leaders-urge-army-corps-of-engineers-to-include-great-lakes-projects-in-work-plan/

Pavan Vangipuram

Great Lakes Action Plan Offers Steady Path Forward

Last month, the EPA released its long-awaited Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan III, outlining the strategy guiding federal actions to restore and protect the Lakes being undertaken by federal agencies in partnership with the region.

The plan’s release comes at a time when both the U.S. House and Senate are seeking to increase funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative beyond $300 million per year. Over the last 10 years, Congress has invested over $3.1 billion in Great Lakes Restoration, and securing a strong action plan has long been a priority of the Healing Our Waters – Great Lakes Coalition.

The recently released plan for the Great Lakes hews closely to previously released action plans. It guides federal restoration efforts around four major priorities: cleaning up toxic hot-spots (so-called Areas of Concern), restoring fish and wildlife habitat, working to stop the spread of invasive species such as Asian Carp, and reducing agricultural runoff to fight toxic algal blooms in the Great Lakes.

Here’s our take on the EPA’s action plan:

1. These are the right priorities to focus on – taken together, they point to a solid plan for restoring and preserving the health of the Great Lakes.

2. It’s going to take robust funding and strong policy to make this plan a reality. In addition to robust funding for restoration projects, it will be essential to have strong policies in place that protect the Great Lakes and the waters that feed them. The Trump Administration and the EPA must reverse its decision to gut protections for streams, waterways and wetlands. With many cities and towns still living with unsafe drinking water, now is not the time to cut back on clean water enforcement. We need to strengthen clean water protections, not roll them back.

3. Robust investments in water infrastructure are also needed to ensure that restoration efforts last for the long term. Aging sewer and stormwater infrastructure threaten the health of the Great Lakes and the health of the millions of Americans who rely on the lakes for drinking water. The Great Lakes region faces at least $179 billion of needed improvements to its water infrastructure to provide local communities with drinking water and wastewater services. It’s imperative that Congress boost investments to fix our crumbling infrastructure.

4. The bipartisan support for Great Lakes restoration continues to pay dividends. Over the last decade, Republicans and Democrats have come together to make Great Lakes restoration a national priority and to provide much-needed funding for restoration efforts. That cooperation continues. Recently the U.S. Senate recommended increasing Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding from $300 million to $310 million; and the U.S. House boosted restoration investments from $300 million to $320 million. The final budget is yet to be determined—yet it’s clear that bipartisan cooperation has been essential to success. The Great Lakes congressional delegation has shown great leadership to make that funding a reality.

5. Climate change will only exacerbate threats to the lakes—and needs to be taken into account as restoration efforts move forward. As climate change continues its course, the Great Lakes region is witnessing more intense storms, greater flooding, more shore erosion and more runoff pollution that fuels toxic algal outbreaks. These new challenges will require continued investment in the lakes, as well as solid plans to ensure that their worst effects can be mitigated.

6. Future plans must explicitly address equity and justice issues. Low-income communities and communities of color are bearing the brunt of environmental degradation caused by pollution and climate change. Yet, traditionally, these communities have been the least likely to have a seat at the table when solutions are being devised. Any plan to restore the Great Lakes must take these inequities into account and take the lead from these communities.

Moving forward, the Healing Our Waters – Great Lakes Coalition looks to work with Congress to finalize the restoration funding allocation and maintain funding for the long term. We also seek to secure funding to upgrade vital water infrastructure and to eliminate the rollbacks of clean water protections that threaten the health and vitality of our lakes.

The post Great Lakes Action Plan Offers Steady Path Forward appeared first on Healing Our Waters Coalition.

Original Article

Healing Our Waters Coalition

Healing Our Waters Coalition

https://healthylakes.org/great-lakes-action-plan-offers-steady-path-forward/

Pavan Vangipuram