This week: PFAS Released at Airport in Pellston, Michigan + Chicago Water Supply is Expanding to Joliet and Residents Will Be Paying For It +The Poster Child For Wetland Destruction + Board Spotlight – Stephanie Smith + Freshwater Future Grant Program Webinar on February 25th–Mark Your Calendar

PFAS Released at Airport in Pellston, Michigan

A year ago, the Pellston Youth Water Council, with the help of Freshwater Future, initiated an investigation sampling water in homes near the Pellston Regional airport, discovering high concentrations of toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Recently, over a gallon of PFAS was released into the environment after a firefighting testing incident at the same airport. For a community already dealing with filters and alternative water sources for their needs, additional spills of these substances only heighten concerns. While Michigan has set drinking water standards for several types of the more than 5,000 types of PFAS, more safeguards are needed in airports and other locations with high PFAS use. Checkout our PFAS regulatory chart to see where different jurisdictions in the Great Lakes region fall in regulating these harmful chemicals.


Chicago Wins Competition to Sell Lake Michigan Water to Joliet

Chicago wins the $30 million a year deal securing it as a water supplier for Joliet, IL. The needed regional water infrastructure upgrades are expected to triple Joliet’s residential water rates in the coming decade. For those wondering why Joliet doesn’t have to meet the requirements of the Great Lakes Compact in order to receive this Great Lakes water in a city outside of the Great Lakes basin, it is because of Chicago’s Supreme Court consent decree that allows the state of Illinois to determine where the water allocated through the decree is utilized.


Avoiding Public Input and Allowing Wetland Destruction

Due to COVID-19, some cities have been hit hard economically, and Pickering, Ontario is no different. The municipality however, has been quietly ‘cutting red tape’ to bypass the opportunity for input of the community by using “Minister’s Zoning Orders,” which bypass normal planning processes, including the right of residents to appeal. As a result, wetlands are in peril of being destroyed in order to build new development projects. The community is concerned that without wetlands during stints of heavy rain or heavy snow melt, excess water would have no choice but to flood nearby home basements and increase erosion to shoreline communities.


Board Spotlight – Stephanie Smith

Please meet Freshwater Future’s Board Chair, Stephanie Smith. Smith has an unwavering commitment to water, Freshwater Future, and our Great Lakes partners and communities. Throughout her career, her reach has extended across the world to over 17 different countries with the same goal of water protection. 


Freshwater Future Grant Program Webinar on February 25th–Mark Your Calendar

Join us on February 25, 2021 at 10am EST to learn more about Freshwater Future’s grant programs. This informal webinar will provide a brief overview of our grants programs and how to apply. There will be plenty of time for questions and answers. In the meantime, check-out Freshwater Future’s 2021 Grant Opportunities guidelines to see if your organization is eligible.   


 

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/freshwater-weekly/freshwater-weekly-february-12-2021/

Freshwater Future

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

Freshwater Future Applauds WaterLegacy As They Continue To Tell PolyMet “No!”

Freshwater Future applauds WaterLegacy as they continue to defend Minnesota water quality standards from industry rollbacks to protect the environment and people within the community from a controversial mine project. WaterLegacy has developed a cohort of partners from indigenious tribes and food gatherers to health professionals and environmental groups, who stand in unity to protect the waters and lands for fishing, hunting, and growing wild rice located near the proposed copper-nickel sulfide mine.

In June 12, 2019, WaterLegacy sought out EPA comments that would play a critical role in allowing PolyMet the permit prepared and issued by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). Due to the nature of PolyMet’s business, WaterLegacy knew the approval of the permit would be a direct violation of the Clean Water Act and demanded to view the public comments made by MPCA. After a year of unwavering persistence, WaterLegacy secured the comments by suing the EPA under a Freedom Of Information Act lawsuit as MPCA continued to delay and suppress the information requested by WaterLegacy. The very next day, the EPA Inspector General initiated an investigation due to the allegations toward the EPA and their process for the PolyMet water pollution permit. With WaterLegacy suspecting a breach in protocol, the issue caught the attention of Representative Rick Hansen, who sat as the chairman for the Legislative Audit Commission and Environment and Natural Resource Division, who commenced an audit on MPCA handling of the PolyMet mine permit process. 

As the investigation was underway, WaterLegacy procured a substantial amount of evidence of procedural irregularities, which were submitted for comparison to determine if MPCA’s procedure for PolyMet presented irregularities. Furthermore, WaterLegacy attorney Paula MacCabee carried the story nationally to make known this ongoing investigation was needed to ensure the permitting process was executed with integrity. Due to the sizable amount of evidence, Chief Judge Edward Cleary of the district court postponed the permitting process until the investigation was finished, which is a highly unusual act of the courts. 

On September 09, 2020, the Minnesota Court of Appeals decided to take their own look at the case after district courts declared there were no irregularities in the procedure by MPCA, indicating to WaterLegacy and the Minnesota Court of Appeals that the case was not reviewed by a neutral administrative law judge. Paula MacCabee, legal counsel for WaterLegacy, appealed the decision of the district courts with documents proving the authorization of a PolyMet mine water pollution permit would be in direct conflict with the Clean Water Act. WaterLegacy and other groups also suggest MPCA skewed the rules in their favor to suppress criticism by hiding evidence or deleting it all together. The case will now wait until the court of appeals reaches their conclusion, and may go well into 2021. 

Advocates claim PolyMet’s nickel-copper sulfide mining operations will produce toxic waste and runoff that will elevate mercury levels in fish and animals and decimate the wild rice fields, which in turn, compromise the health of the community members and their families living off the land. WaterLegacy has accomplished a long list of  successes to secure basic human rights necessary for living by upholding drinking water quality for residents and businesses along with protecting the environment for wildlife to flourish.

Freshwater Future stands as an ally to supply grassroots organizations in the Great Lakes region the needed resources to relish in the wins that change lives. Standing by the work of organizations like WateLegacy to aid those who push to sustain the quality of living we all deserve is important to Freshwater Future. If your organization needs resources to further water protection work, apply for our Fall Grant, deadline September 30th! We are here to ensure the safety of our waters, contact us for more information on grants: laurie@freshwaterfuture.org or 231.348.8200.

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/uncategorized/freshwater-future-applauds-waterlegacys-defense-for-clean-water/

Alexis Smith

Department of Public Utilities Is Awarded $50,000 For Full Lead Line Repair to families living without their water during COVID-19

The City of Toledo, Department of Neighborhood awarded the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) $50,000 in support of full lead line repair to residents who are currently living without running water in their home. The funding comes from a  Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), making it possible for homeowners to receive financial aid in repairing damaged pipes leading into their home which otherwise would abstain them from water reconnection. Working together with the community ensures that residents are protected and supported by the lead line repair program as it relates to equitable opportunity, water security, and access to clean drinking water. 

The Toledo Community Water Council has played a key role in fighting against water injustices to ensure that the decrease in water disparities is parallel with inclusion and equitable treatment of Toledo ratepayers. The Toledo Community Water Council has taken the initiative to collaborate with the municipality and local institutions to identify challenges as they arise as well as uncovering solutions to better serve the community during the lead line repair process. For example, the Council engages homeowners through education on the present opportunities of water restoration through getting the lead line repaired, pinpointing homes that need the service while collecting existing data from the institutions and municipalities for better accuracy, and holistically support the work needed to replace outdated water infrastructure for residents struggling for water quality within their homes. Toledo, once a city only willing to engage in partial lead line replacement, which could inadvertently increase the lead content within the homeowners’ water, heeds the collective knowledge and insight of the Toledo Community Water Council. When DPU locates a home with lead pipes they are prepared to replace them. The community has been persistent in advocating for full lead line repair, and those families living without water and with lead lines not yet located will also receive full lead line replacement in addition to repairs. The Toledo Community Water Council will also be providing oversight and community support to the DPU to ensure their actions are held accountable and all residents are aware of opportunities. 

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/uncategorized/toledo-water-council-fully-supports-the-50000-grant-for-full-lead-line-repair/

Alexis Smith

During this pandemic many of us have had to take our work home with us, and now that children are returning to school they will be, too. Everybody is at home battling with their own stress, so dealing with others too can be tough. It becomes more daunting when days just can’t seem to go right. You know what I am talking about. Confined within the same four walls everyday can start to feel as if they are closing in when there is so much that “has” to be done. By that time, anxiety rises, motivation withers and you want to throw your hands up, curl up in bed and eat your favorite dessert, mine is ice cream, while watching Netflix wishing all deadlines and projects go away.

We’ve all been there but during the pandemic it has a chance to happen a lot more often. The reality is we will be knocked off our square and being able to recognize when we are knocked off, provides us an opportunity to realign with our internal self. Without peace, we can’t think straight. Without thinking straight, let’s be honest, we’re no help to anyone, including ourselves. So what can we do to quiet the madness inside and keep our hands from ripping out our hair? (Though I’m bald already.) We must incorporate activities that bring us peace during our work day, and practice them daily. Practicing these activities daily ensures they become second nature and ensures the practice of self-care, which some would say we need more than ever. The holy grail to the consistent high level productivity you expect from yourself is self-care. Take care of your body, mind, and spirit, and in turn, they will take care of you. The key is to understand that you must give to yourself before you give yourself to others. Sounds too simple? Perhaps, but it is as easy as making a choice.

If you’re looking for ideas to recenter yourself and allow time to recharge and re-calibrate yourself to be the best you for others read the following suggestions and see what works best for you.

Meditation: a way to really center yourself is finding a relaxing spot, sitting down, closing your eyes and just breath. It may not make sense since most of us have a million thoughts passing by, but next time, sit down and focus on your breathing in and out while observing your thoughts as they come and go. This will clear the fog in your mind and has been proven to reduce anxiety while boosting clarity.


Self Talk: You ever wake up in the morning, stub your toe, and the first thoughts you have are unhappy? Those negative thoughts can create a snowball effect with the expectation that the rest of the day will be a bad day. I invite you to wake up and before you grab your phone or think of the million and one things you have to do that day, to write down or say to yourself at least three things you are grateful for and try this for at least 10 days. Practicing gratitude opens the door to more and better relationships, improves physical and psychological health, enhances empathy, reduces aggression, and improves sleep and self-esteem.

Being totally focused on what’s in front of you: I know a lot of people take pride in being multi-taskers but I will, respectfully, ask you guys to cut the crap. That may be one of the reasons why you feel overwhelmed at times. You don’t need to do it all at once. Take the most important task in front of you and put all of your focus on it and finish it before moving to the next one. You will experience a dramatic change in your productivity.

These are only a few options out of thousands to choose from. I invite you to begin thinking about what you can do for yourself. In this productive society we are constantly thinking about what we can do better at work, for our family, and for our friends. Now it’s the time to think about the most important person — yourself. Take care of yourself and enjoy the benefits of a more relaxed, centered you. I guarantee others will.

Written by Brandon Tyus, Policy and Community Program Associate

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/uncategorized/a-closer-look-at-self-care-during-covid-19/

Leslie Burk

August 20, 2020

This week: Flint Children Beneficiaries of Legal Settlement + New York’s Environmental Justice Communities Eligible for New Water Infrastructure Project Financial Incentives + The 2020 Water Is Life Festival Goes Virtual Sept 5 and 6th + The Great Waterspout Outbreak of 2020 + Show Your Lake Erie Love on Social Media, August 26th with #WeAreLakeErie + Fall Project Grants Due September 30!


Flint Children Beneficiaries of Legal Settlement

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office announced the Flint Water Crisis victims will receive an anticipated $600 million settlement from the State of Michigan. The funds will be primarily directed to Flint children harmed from the exposure of lead contaminated water. While Freshwater Future is happy to see that some responsibility is being taken by the state, we know that this will not make Flint residents whole, and we will support their efforts to ensure the needed resources become available.


New York’s Environmental Justice Communities Eligible for New Water Infrastructure Project Financial Incentives

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced changes to New Yorks’ financing tools giving priority to water infrastructure projects that provide critical financial assistance to disproportionately affected low-income and disadvantaged communities that have historically faced some of the worst environmental impacts from years of neglect and disinvestment. New York’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund will provide zero- and low- interest loan incentives to support critical water infrastructure that protect the environment and public health.


The 2020 Water Is Life Festival Goes Virtual Sept 5 and 6th

The Annual Water is Life Festival celebrates our connection to the water and builds power through community to protect water resources. This year’s live-stream event encompasses music, art, youth activities, as well as poignant discussions on water equity. The Water is Life Festival is free-of-charge and open to the public. For event information and to register, visit their info page.


The Great Waterspout Outbreak of 2020

Great Lakes water temperatures have climbed high under the scorching sun this summer. Recent cold fronts that have passed over these warm waters in conjunction with changing wind direction resulted in a massive waterspout outbreak.  During the week of August 10, 84 waterspouts were spotted around the Great Lakes, crushing the previous record in 2013 at 67.


Show Your Lake Erie Love on Social Media, August 26th with #WeAreLakeErie 

As western Lake Erie continues to be plagued by annual—and sometimes toxic—algal blooms, Ontarians and Americans are being asked to join in a social media rallying cry for urgent action to protect the lake and, along with it, drinking water for millions of people. People can participate in this 4th annual social media event by sharing Lake Erie stories and photos on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook with the hashtag #WeAreLakeErie to help create a virtual wave of support for the lake to demonstrate to decision-makers the important role the lake plays in the lives of so many people. The event was created in 2017 by three Canadian environmental organizations: Environmental Defence Canada, Canadian Freshwater Alliance, and Freshwater Future Canada. Anyone who participates will be entered into a draw to win a custom “I Love My Lake” tee.


Fall Project Grants Due September 30! 

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.  Visit our website for additional information: https://freshwaterfuture.org/grants/freshwater-future-grants/

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/uncategorized/freshwater-weekly-august-26-2020-2/

Alexis Smith

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

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

July 10, 2020

This week: Legislation to Address Water Access Focus of All About Water Webinars + Governor Whitmer Extends Water Reconnection To Year’s End   + Great Lake Water Temperatures Spike Due to Heat + Michigan Airports Receive $2.5 Million In Grants For PFAS Testing + Wastewater Can Show Early Detection of COVID-19 Outbreaks


Legislation to Address Water Access Focus of All About Water Webinars

Hosted by Freshwater Future, the All About Water Webinars focused on policy solutions to address access to affordable, safe drinking water and how we can work together to ensure that water is turned on, stays on and is affordable. Visit our website to view the slides from presenters and links to recorded sessions.

Water as a Human Right Legislation Gaining Bipartisan Support in D.C.

Representative Rashida Tlaib shared on the All About Water Webinar that Republicans and Democrats are sponsoring legislation to continue moratoriums on water shutoffs while we are still fighting this pandemic.  Water is essential for life and protecting public health. No one person should ever have to worry about whether they are able to put food on the table or have water flowing from their taps.  You can urge your Congressional member today to support and work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to swiftly pass the Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability (WATER) Act and the Emergency Water is a Human Right Act.


Governor Whitmer Extends Water Re-connection Order To Year’s End

The number one preventive measure taken to fight against COVID-19 is washing our hands. Gov. Whitmer extended the water reconnection order until the end of the year to help people do exactly that.  We know there are still people who have not been reconnected, and that there are groups including Freshwater Future working to change that.


Great Lake Water Temperatures Spike Due to Heat

Several days of sunny, hot, calm weather resulted in large portions of the Great Lakes warming significantly in some places over ten degrees in just five days. Astounding visuals and video forecast of how and where the Great Lakes temperatures have increased can be seen here.


Michigan Airports Receive $2.5 Million In Grants For PFAS Testing 

Fire-fighting foams containing the toxic chemical called PFAS have been used for decades to put out jet fuel fires.  Fire department training and use of foams contaminated groundwater and drinking water.  The Michigan PFAS Action Response Team is awarding municipal airports throughout the state grant funding for testing of PFAS contamination. Areas like Pellston, MI have been issued $250,000 of this grant due to known impacts on residential wells.


Wastewater Can Show Early Detection of COVID-19 Outbreaks

Researching human waste has proven to be an effective model for tracing and pinpointing COVID-19 infected populations before the area experiences an uptick in cases. In particular, targeting the asymptomatic group that unknowingly carries the virus and spreads it to more vulnerable populations is what makes this research that much more valuable.

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/uncategorized/freshwater-weekly-july-13-2020/

Alexis Smith

July 2, 2020

This week: Public Health and Water Affordability Focus of All About Water Webinar + Lake Erie Harmful Algal Blooms Forecast Program + Illinois Announces Two Funding Sources for Improving Water Quality +  Michigan House Passes Bill For Toxic Firefighting Foam To Be Reported And Disposed + Potential for Mirages on Lake Michigan from Weather Conditions


Public Health and Water Affordability Focus of All About Water Webinar 

It is no secret, but access to clean, safe water is essential to prevent public health problems. This week’s first All About Water Webinar featured amazing presentations on contaminated drinking water and connections to public health problems, including research in Detroit on mapping the water crisis that revealed the inequities that illustrate the impact of water shutoffs on public health.

Limited space available in webinar next week:

Policy & Water Affordability Webinar, Wed, July 8, 10 am to Noon ET

Strategy Session & Water Affordability, Thurs, July 9, 2020, 2-4 pm ET

Register here to participate.

Video recordings, presentations, and resources from the first four sessions featuring equity and community roles in water affordability will be available on our website.


Lake Erie Harmful Algal Blooms Forecast Program

An Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory webinar on July 9 will discuss the forecast for harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie for 2020. Less rainfall that distributes nutrient pollutant into the rivers connected to Lake Erie may lessen the severity of the blooms in 2020 compared to 2019. However there is no accurate prediction of the level of toxicity of harmful blooms until they occur.  Register for the webinar here.


Illinois Announces Two Funding Sources for Improving Water Quality 

The Illinois EPA announced the availability of $9.5 million in grants to improve the quality of water. The Rebuild Illinois Capital Plan provides $5 million in grants to build green infrastructure, such as rain gardens and green roofs, to reduce pollution from stormwater.  An additional $4.5 million of federal funds are available to address water quality issues directly related to polluted runoff or nonpoint source pollution.


Michigan House Passes Bill For Toxic Firefighting Foam To Be Reported And Disposed

Michigan House approved a bill that mandates fire departments and chiefs to report their use of firefighting foam with toxic PFAS within 48 hours of use. The state environmental department is required to accept the foam and dispose of it properly. State funding support is anticipated so fire departments will not incur disposal costs.


Weather Conditions Right for Mirages on Lake Michigan  

Ghostly ships and buildings may be visible this week on Lake Michigan due to the warm temperatures and calm conditions.  The mirages, called superior images appear reversed and floating above the water.

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/lake-erie-algae/11747/

Alexis Smith

June 26, 2020

This week: Fines and Pipeline Shutdown + All About Water Webinars Address Water Equity and Justice + No Surprise Great Lakes Water Levels Are Rising + Freshwater Future Staff Member, Alicia Smith Appointed to U.S. EPA Advisory Committee


Fines and Pipeline Shutdown

Last week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fined Enbridge, a Canadian company with gas and oil pipelines running through the Great Lakes region, $6.7 million for reporting delays and safety violations.  The Canadian company agreed to pay the fines related to dents and weakening metal of  the Lakehead  Pipeline System that extends across northern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin.

This week, a judge ordered Enbridge to shut down Line 5, the dual pipelines running under Lakes Michigan and Huron in Michigan, until a hearing next Tuesday.  Last week, the company reported damaged supports on one of the two pipelines to state officials and shutdown use.  After learning that the company resumed use of one of the 67-year old pipelines without notification to the State, Michigan’s Attorney General requested the shutdown.


All About Water Webinars Address Water Equity and Justice

Limited space is available in the remaining four All About Water Webinar series.  The free sessions feature dynamic and impactful speakers about water affordability equity, community, policy, public health, governmental entities, and a final strategic session to set in motion a water affordability platform.

Public Health & Water Affordability Webinar, Wed, July 1, 2020, 10 am to Noon ET

Government & Water Affordability Webinar, Thurs, July 2, 2020, 2-4 pm ET

Policy & Water Affordability Webinar, Wed, July 8, 10 am to Noon ET

Strategy Session & Water Affordability, Thurs, July 9, 2020, 2-4 pm ET

Register here to participate.

Video recordings, presentations, and resources from the first two sessions featuring equity and community roles in water affordability will be available on our website.


No Surprise Great Lakes Water Levels Are Rising 

Every Great Lake is experiencing near record or record-breaking water levels and the data collected over time is showing why. Since 2005, increased precipitation in the Great Lakes region has been staggering, creating additional runoff that drains into the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes region was predicted to have more rain as a result of climate change, and we are clearly seeing that born out.


Freshwater Future Staff Member, Alicia Smith Appointed to U.S. EPA Advisory Committee

Being a kindergarten teacher is one of Freshwater Future staff member Alicia Smith’s favorite past positions.  Through her appointment to the U.S. EPA Child Health Protection Advisory Committee, she has the opportunity to blend her former expertise as a teacher and her recent experiences working on environmental justice and public health issues around water.  As a member of the Committee, Alicia will advise the U.S. EPA on regulations, research, and communications related to children’s environmental health. Congratulations Alicia!

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/freshwater-weekly/freshwater-weekly-june-29-2020/

Alexis Smith

June 12, 2020

This week: Speaking Common Threads in Our Communities Through Poetry +No Water Service Restoration Chicago+ Anishinaabe Lead on Adapting to Climate Change + Michigan Senators Introduce a Bill to Protect Waterways and Public Health


Speaking of Common Threads in Our Communities Through Poetry

Freshwater Future staff member Brandon Tyus expressed his reactions to George Floyd’s murder through poetry.  His poem titled Dear White People reflects on the personal belief system that “the game doesn’t change, but the faces do” as there is always a common thread in anything that shares fundamental commonalities such as skin color. The poem’s voice from the viewpoint of black and brown people asks white people to gain perspective, because they cannot understand what life is like with darker skin.

No Water Service Restoration in Chicago During Pandemic

The City of Chicago has yet to restore water service to a single home, leaving an untold number of families without running water during the pandemic. Many cities across the Great Lakes region have been scrambling to reconnect users so they can wash their hands to prevent the spread of Covid-19, at least temporarily.  Rising water costs in many cities in the region have led to disconnections when residents fall behind on water bills.  Even after Freshwater Future negotiated a small pilot to turn on the water for a single home, the City has not been able to find the will for reconnection.


Anishinaabe Tribes Lead on Adapting to Climate Change

Anishinaabe tribes in northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan are taking a holistic approach toward dealing with climate change that requires more “listening” to nature than battling it. Tribal adaptation is an approach that notices the changes in climate and experiments with what needs to be adjusted to accommodate the change. Tribes have formed a coalition, putting them in a leadership role for building resilience to climate change impacts.


Michigan Senators Introduce A Bill To Protect Waterways And Public Health

After an industrial property contaminated with uranium and other hazardous chemicals collapsed into the Detroit River as we reported in December 2019. This environmental disaster revealed inadequate enforcement by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE). In response to this and similar instances of dangerous pollutants entering waterways, State legislators introduced a bill to protect major waterways and public health. The legislation would require statewide risk assessments and an accessible database for the public to more easily identify contaminated areas throughout the state.

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/uncategorized/freshwater-weekly-june-15th-2020/

Alexis Smith

June 5, 2020

This week: Water Equity and Justice


Freshwater Future Statement

Freshwater Future mourns the death of Mr. George Floyd and all who have died due to racism in our country. We stand in solidarity with all communities of color as the forces of systemic racism have made them most vulnerable to police brutality and disproportionate impacts and harmed families suffering in silence, who would like to believe the opportunities afforded to others would be unconditionally afforded to their families and communities alike throughout the country. The scourge of racism has been plaguing our country since prior to the formation of this nation. Recognizing that it is actions, and not simply words, that will move us toward a just and equitable society, we commit to new steps within our organization to make our work more just and equitable and to ensure that work pushes for justice and equity throughout our region and the country. While we do not have all the answers of how to move forward together at this moment, we commit to listening, learning and changing in the days and years to come.

Freshwater Future’s Current Work to Address Environmental Justice

Like the rest of the nation, our community partners are strained by the unlawful acts of our justice system, and Freshwater Future has grounded itself to be there for them more than ever. Meeting our partners in their local communities and listening to their issues has been paramount in how we best serve the community on their local issues has been a crucial component in how we best serve the community. Water affordability, lead line replacement, citizen science, public education, and more are the incredibly successful results of dialing back what we think needs to happen, and following residents and community leaders toward what actually needs to happen.  Current events have amplified why on-the-ground leaders’ voices must be uplifted and be in front leading the change. Freshwater Future is reminded by the current event plaguing our nation, that it is a constantly evolving process as we continue to strive to increase our knowledge in water equity and cultural competence for our work to be most effective.


Benton Harbor Community Water Council Working Hard for Water Justice

The Benton Harbor Community Water Council (Council) has been working tirelessly to ensure equity in water safety while the City of Benton Harbor remains out of compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule for drinking water.  The Council’s work has varied as the needs of residents have changed, including:

  • Ensuring availability of water filters,

  • Training and assistance in use and installation of filters,

  • Calls with the city leadership and state regulators, and

  • Conducting outreach to find residents willing to participate in water testing at their homes to determine lead levels and whether the system is in compliance,

  • Participating in Covid-19 training for use of Personal Protective Equipment, social distancing and more so they could deliver bottles to residents and pick them up from door steps safely to aid the City in testing for safety and compliance.

We applaud the steady and courageous work of these residents that make up the Council for their ongoing efforts to ensure safe, clean and affordable water for the residents of Benton Harbor.


Take Action to Stop the assault on Clean, Safe and Affordable Water

During a global pandemic where access to clean water is vital and a time when communities are rising up against inequities faced by African-Americans and communities of color in this country, the Trump Administration once again delivers a massive blow to families and our communities across this nation. The Trump Administration has waged a full-on attack on the Clean Water Act by rolling back protections for thousands of stream miles and wetlands that are critical to keeping our drinking water clean and safe, by stripping federal protection for these streams and wetlands. Click here to learn more and take action!


County Comes Together as a Community When Michigan Sheriff Joins Protesters

Michigan officer Christopher Swanson sets the example for other officers to follow as he removes his helmet signaling the inclination to move in solidarity with the community. Engaging local residents to find what they need him to do, the protesters motion the officer to join the protest and walk with them. Humble in his approach it led to a peaceful protest, setting the bar high for other officers across the nation to observe and follow suit.


Resources for Additional Reading and Thinking for All Ages:

Beautiful Blackbird

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45g1Ru2R-lI 

There Are No Mirrors….

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRNfJxDNbEE  

Be Water 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SCGckevYng 

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/call-to-action/freshwater-weekly-may-6th-2020/

Alexis Smith

May 15, 2020

This week: Freshwater Future Applauds New Ohio Bills to Protect Water Safety and Affordability + Covid-19 Stimulus Package Should Support Green Water Infrastructure + 3D Mapping of Plastic Pollution in Lake Erie + Sewage Could Help Track Coronavirus + Lake Michigan/Huron Breaks Water Level Record Four Months Running

Freshwater Future Applauds New Ohio Bills to Protect Water Safety and Affordability

Partnering with advocates from across the region, Freshwater Future has been working to ensure water at residents’ taps is free from lead and is affordable.  This week, an Ohio bill was introduced to move those issues forward. Ohio Representative Erica Crawley introduced legislation that will prevent water shut offs and require development of water affordability programs by utilities.


Covid-19 Stimulus Package Should Support Green Water Infrastructure

As the Covid-19 stimulus package includes funds for green water infrastructure, Philadelphia demonstrates leverage of these investments to support family health and community economy is possible. Emerging from old traditions, the stimulus package should support decentralized practices. Freshwater Future believes to move from the Covid-19 crisis more equitably, we need future stimulus packages to include investments in our urban and rural water infrastructure.


3D Mapping of Plastic Pollution in Lake Erie

Some plastic floats and some sinks.  According to a recent study by students at Rochester Institute of Technology that looked at how plastic moves, it’s estimated that there is 380 tons of plastic at the bottom of Lake Erie.  An expansion of the study to Lake Ontario will consider how plastics move from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario over Niagara Falls.


Sewage Could Help Track Coronavirus 

Toledo is participating in a research project to determine if sewage can help track the coronavirus.  Studies show that because of how the virus moves through the human body, it can be found in wastewater. The analysis of weekly samples from water treatment plants will hopefully give insight on where and when the next outbreak occurs to better prepare the community.


Lake Michigan and Huron Break Water Level Record Four Months Running 

Lakes Michigan and Huron (considered one connected lake) set a new water level record for the fourth month in a row and is currently three feet higher than the average long-term level. The Army Corps of Engineers says the lake keeps getting deeper.

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/uncategorized/freshwater-weekly-may-18-2020-2/

Alexis Smith

May 8, 2020

This week: Trump Administration Sued By States Over Rollbacks On Water Protection + Pipeline Permit Stalled + Illinois Sues Hilco After Implosion In Little Village + Transboundary Plants – Emitting Pollution And Causing Cancer + PFAS Virtual Town Hall for Pellston, Michigan

Trump Administration Sued By States Over Rollbacks On Water Protection

In response to the Trump Administration’s disregard of the Clean Water Act, 17 states filed a lawsuit.  States claim the rollbacks of regulations ignore science and pose devastating risks to our waterways and public health.  As a result, regulations default to states to set their own standards, making states with weaker laws more at risk of pollution and water quality degradation.


Pipeline Permit Stalled

Last week, we shared that the Canadian energy company Enbridge was proceeding to repair the Line 5 pipeline that spans the Straits of Mackinac and simultaneously working on plans to construct a tunnel.  State officials denied the utility tunnel permit for incomplete information. Additional details on the exact size of the tunnel and other specifications were requested by the Michigan Department of Energy, Great Lakes, and Environment.


Illinois Sues Hilco After Implosion In Little Village

The Illinois Attorney General is suing Hilco Redevelopment for causing air pollution after the company and its contractors left Little Village residents covered in debris after demolition of a 95-year old smokestack. Residents were exposed to respiratory disease due to compromised air quality.  Local leaders contend that the city of Chicago be accused for allowing the project to occur during a time when residents are urged to stay at home.


Transboundary Plants – Emitting Pollution And Causing Cancer

A proposed ferrochrome plant in Sault Saint Marie, Ontario (commonly referred to as the Soo) has raised concerns about the public health impacts. The plant will make stainless steel from the mineral chromite that is being mined in the region and produces chromium-6 in the smelting process, the toxic chemical of notoriety raised by the environmental activist, Erin Brockovich. This in-depth article investigates the historic industrial pollution from a tannery in the Soo on the US side and the ongoing pollution from the existing steel plant in Ontario.  The Soo area has a high rate of cancer and many residents are concerned that the proposed plant will contribute more harmful pollution.


PFAS Virtual Town Hall for Pellston, Michigan

On May 13th, 2020 a virtual live town hall meeting is scheduled to address the PFAS contamination investigation in Pellston. The Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART), will be updating local residents on recent discoveries. Previously, over half of the locations tested for PFAS contamination in the Pellston area indicated elevated PFAS levels. To learn more about MPART’s upcoming virtual meeting, click here.

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/uncategorized/freshwater-weekly-may-18-2020/

Alexis Smith

May 1, 2020

This week: The Hell of Not Having Running Water During a Pandemic + Lawsuit to Stop Clean Water Rollbacks + Drinking Water Quality Threatened by Climate Change + Increased Water Withdrawal Approved by Judge +  Chicagoans Waiting for Plovers Monty and Rose to Return

The Hell of Not Having Running Water During a Pandemic

Amidst the pandemic, We The People Of Detroit CEO and founder Monica Lewis-Patrick continues her free water delivery service. After Governor Whitmer made an executive order on water restoration, food pantries and nonprofits delivering water are calculating hundreds if not thousands of residents still without running water. For years, We The People Of Detroit has argued that shutoffs threaten the health of impoverished families. African Americans bear the brunt of this pandemic with higher COVID-19 death tolls occurring in the same areas without running water.

Lawsuit to Stop Clean Water Rollbacks

Six environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration to stop clean water rollbacks.  The Trump Administration duplicitously named the rollbacks “Navigable Waters Protection Rule” although it would eliminate those protections. The lawsuit contends the rules are a violation of the Clean Water Act.

Drinking Water Quality Threatened by Climate Change

With Great Lakes water temperatures increasing due to climate change, precipitation has also increased, including extreme rain events. Increased rain means increased runoff that dumps nutrient pollution into our waterways. When coupled with high temperatures, this runoff creates the perfect conditions for harmful algal blooms. The combined events create severe threats to our drinking water, demonstrating our vast water supply can still be vulnerable and undrinkable if not properly protected.

Increased Water Withdrawal Approved by Judge

Unfortunately, a judge ruled this week that Néstle Waters Inc. can increase its pumping rate to withdraw 576,000 gallons of groundwater per day.  Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, an environmental organization that has worked for years to protect groundwater and surface water from water withdrawals, is considering options in response to the decision.

Chicagoans Waiting for Plovers Monty and Rose to Return

A nesting pair of piping plovers at Montrose Beach in Chicago persevered through a music festival and more last summer.  This summer, the plovers, affectionately named Monty and Rose, may not have to share the beach with humans due to the pandemic.

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/uncategorized/freshwater-weekly-may-5-2020/

Alexis Smith

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

April 17, 2020

This week: Congress Introduces Federal Ban on Water Shutoffs During COVID—19 Crisis + Vermont Finds PFAS In Groundwater Due To Fertilizer Treatment + Developer Implodes Coal Plant Smoke Stack, Covering Little Village in Dust + Port Huron Upgrades Sewer System

Congress Introduces Federal Ban on Water Shutoffs During COVID—19 Crisis

Numerous municipalities and States have adopted moratoriums for water shut offs amid COVID-19. Over sixty members of Congress are in consensus that a ban on water shut offs is essential on a federal level.  The legislation also provides funding for residents to cover water bills.

Vermont Finds PFAS In Groundwater Due To Fertilizer Treatment

Using treated sewage sludge for agricultural fertilizer has been considered safe until recently.  The presence of pharmaceuticals and chemicals like PFAS used in water and stain repellents, nonstick cookware, and fire retardants are concentrating in sludge and when applied to farm fields are contaminating soils and groundwater as recently reported in Vermont.

Developer Implodes Coal Plant Smoke Stack, Covering Little Village in Dust

Amid COVID-19 a former coal plant implodes, sending clouds of toxic dust in the air to cover Little Village of Chicago. Local residents and Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) are furious, demanding reparations from the company as well as the city. Residents are suffering from respiratory symptoms and fear entering health facilities due to fear of contracting the virus.

Port Huron Upgrades Sewer System 

Like many cities, Port Huron’s combined wastewater and stormwater drains were not properly designed and often resulted in raw sewage being dumped in the St. Clair River.  At one time, there were 19 overflow points polluting the waterway. Twenty-one years and $178 million later, overflow points will be eliminated, greatly benefiting the water quality of the St. Clair River.

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/uncategorized/freshwater-future-weekly-april-21-2020/

Alexis Smith

April 10, 2020

This week: Water Service Update During COVID-19 + New Law Mandates Indiana Schools Test for Lead Contamination + Lakes Levels Still Breaking Records + Does Your Organization Qualify for CARES Act Help?

Water Service Update During COVID-19

The pandemic revealed the importance of water access and the harmful impacts of water shutoffs.  Here are a few highlights of progress and challenges from this week:

Access to clean water is a basic human right and Freshwater Future will continue to work to turn water on and keep water on for residents and make water affordable during and after the pandemic.

New Law Mandates Indiana Schools Test for Lead Contamination

Lead poisoning in children has irreversible effects and for some legislators, that’s starting to sink in. By 2023 a new Indiana state law requires schools’ drinking water systems to be tested. Hoosier Environmental Council expresses their appreciation to the legislature(s) for actively reducing the sources of lead exposed to children.

Lakes Levels Still Breaking Records

Even after a relatively mild winter Great Lake water levels remain high. While all Great Lakes are surpassing last year’s levels. Lakes Michigan and Huron and Lake Erie are breaking all-time records. Lakes Michigan and Huron are an incredible 14 inches higher than last year.

Does Your Organization Qualify for CARES Act Help?

The recently passed Federal CARES Act provides relief for businesses and nonprofits from economic impacts of the coronavirus.  Freshwater Future can help you determine if you qualify for these programs. If you are interested in receiving our assistance please email stephanie@freshwaterfuture.org.

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/uncategorized/freshwater-weekly-april-13-2020/

Alexis Smith

April 3, 2020

This week: Water Service Restoration Update + COVID-19 has Great Lakes aquariums and museums offering online activities + Federal Judge Allows Flint Water Lawsuit Against Former Gov Snyder to Proceed + Flint mayor announces city-wide curfew effective April 2nd

Water Service Restoration Update

Michigan:

Whitmer orders that homes’ water service be restored amid COVID-19 pandemic

Governor Whitmer issued an executive order to restore water services to occupied homes.  Thank you to all the Freshwater Future supporters who helped send a message to Governor Whitmer urging a moratorium on water shutoffs and restoration of essential water services..  Access to water is imperative for residents to have the capacity to thoroughly wash their hands, in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. Now utility companies must get to work to identify and restore residential homes’ water. As part of the Executive Order, Governor Whitmer is requiring all public water suppliers that have used shutoffs as a consequence for nonpayment to file a report with the state on their efforts to restore service by April 12th.

Public Health Experts Urge Michigan Mayors To Turn Water On ASAP

Michigan residents and public health experts are calling on Governor Whitmer to work with her newly created Michigan Advisory Council for Environmental Justice (MAC EJ) to ensure that residential water services are restored quickly, transparently, and equitably.  Detroit and Michigan have become national epicenters for the Coronavirus in the U.S. and the Governor and her administration must work quickly to restore life-saving resources, such as clean water. This week, medical professionals and public health experts joined We The People, Freshwater Future, and Great Lakes Environmental Law Center to update the media via teleconference on the public health impact of water shut offs and how they are contributing to the high rate of coronavirus infection throughout the state.  The recorded teleconference is now available on YouTube. Click here to watch.

Ohio:

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency orders water restored and halts future shutoffs

Earlier this week, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director, Laurie Stevenson, sent an order to all public utilities in Ohio to restore residential water services as quickly as possible and halt any disconnection due to nonpayment or fees. This order also directed public water utilities to not charge a reconnection fee and provide residents with instructions on how to properly flush their pipes before using the water. This order is in place until December 1, 2020 or until the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Illinois:

Some Chicagoans May Be Facing Coronavirus Without Water At Home

An investigation of City of Chicago records by WBEZ discovered the potential of thousands of residents without water service. Fortunately, Mayor Lori Lightfoot placed a moratorium on water shutoffs soon after taking office in May 2019. Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, BIG (Blacks in Green) and many other organizations are working to identify residences without water.

Wisconsin:

On March 22nd, Governor Evers and the Public Service Commission (PSC), which oversee approximately 575 public and private utilities throughout Wisconsin, halted water shutoffs and streamline the restoration of residential water services. In addition, PSC directed utilities to wave late fees. Are you a resident of Wisconsin and need support in getting your water turned on now? Click here.

Great Lakes Aquariums and Museums Offering Online Activities

Amid COVID-19, there are people who take lemons and make lemonade. Due to physical distancing, community facilities and entertainment centers are closed to the public. However, these resilient centers have gone on online for enjoyment and learning. Throughout the entire Great Lake region there are aquariums, museums and live animal feedings available to you in the comfort of your own home. Click here to pick your favorite place, there is still fun to be had!

Update: Federal Judge Allows Flint Water Lawsuit Against Former Gov Snyder to Proceed

Flint family’s lawsuit against state officials was allowed to proceed by a Federal Judge.  Judge Levy dismissed charges against the former Mayor and other state officials but is allowing the case against former Gov Rick Snyder and Emergency Manager, Darnell Earley to proceed.

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/uncategorized/freshwater-future-weekly-april-7-2020/

Alexis Smith

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.)

Ohio:

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. 

Michigan:

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.

Illinois:

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!

#WorldWaterDay

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

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

Alexis Smith

March 20, 2020

SPECIAL EDITION: 
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, alicia@freshwaterfuture.org 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, kristy@freshwaterfuture.org 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

https://freshwaterfuture.org/uncategorized/freshwater-future-weekly-march-20-2020-covid-19-update/

Alexis Smith

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

https://freshwaterfuture.org/uncategorized/freshwater-weekly-march-13-2020/

Alexis Smith

March 6, 2020

This week:  Worried about what’s in your drinking water? + Chicago River’s History–It’s Complicated + Flint Community Lab Grand Opening March 25  + Freshwater Future Grants Available + Federal Court Knocks Down Lake Erie Bill of Rights

Worried about what’s in your drinking water?

Doubt is filling millions of homes as toxic chemicals contaminate our drinking water sources. Freshwater Future’s executive director, Jill Ryan sheds light on this issue of concern and shares tips on actions you can take.

Chicago River’s  History–It’s Complicated

The Chicago River was once a small stream that drained to Lake Michigan. Today its appearance is more like an industrial canal.  It even flows in the opposite direction to the Mississippi River, after dams and canals were installed in 1892 to send waste from the stockyard and sewage away from Lake Michigan, the City’s drinking water source.  This interesting article in Belt Magazine highlights the complicated history of the Chicago River and reimagines its future.

Flint Community Water Lab Opening in March

The Flint Water Crisis started nearly six years ago, and Flint residents still don’t trust their water, continuing to rely on bottled water.  A water lab built and run by Flint residents will have its grand opening March 25 at 1 pm and will provide free water tests to Flint residents.  A project of the Flint Development Center and Freshwater Future, the purpose of the lab is to provide a trusted source for testing that will help residents access information about lead in their water.  Please consider joining us to celebrate the opening of this first of a kind community lab! RSVP here.

Apply for a Freshwater Future Grant Today

For over 24 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 project grant applications is March 31, 2020.  Visit our website to learn more.

Federal Court  Knocks Down Lake Erie Bill of Rights

A federal judge ruled the Lake Erie Bill of Rights null and void last week noting that the law was overreaching and vague.  The Lake Erie Bill of Rights, a law based on the Rights of Nature movement gives water bodies or lands the same rights as people do.  Last February, Toledoans voted on the law and passed it with 61% voting in favor of it.

Toledo may be known for harmful algal blooms, scales and being a Rust Belt City, but the Toledoans for Safe Water rolled up their sleeves and worked relentlessly for two years to get the Bill of Rights on the ballot, showing a forward-thinking side of this Great Lakes city.  The group shared in the media that they will consider the options and keep the conversation going around Lake Erie’s rights.

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-march-6-2020/

Alexis Smith

February 14, 2020

This week: PFAS in Pellston, Michigan Found through Freshwater Future PFAS Testing Program + House Passes Legislation to Boost Great Lakes Cleanup Money + Michigan Teen Turns Plastic Thrown in the Great Lakes into Clothing + South Side Chicago Residents Working on Lead Issues

PFAS in Pellston, Michigan Found through Freshwater Future PFAS Testing Program 

High School students from Pellston, Michigan volunteered to help Freshwater Future test area homes for the toxic chemicals called PFAS,  discovering levels of concern in residential wells. State agencies confirmed the levels and held a Town Hall on Wednesday to inform residents of areas available for free testing from the State and steps to receive filters if needed.  “Freshwater Future’s PFAS testing program was created to help communities, like Pellston, to conduct citizen science to gather information on drinking water quality, and clearly it is working” shared Jill Ryan, Executive Director at Freshwater Future.

Not All Water Filters Remove “Forever Chemicals” or PFAS

Water filters vary greatly in their effectiveness to remove PFAS according to a recent study by Duke University and North Carolina State researchers.   The research tested 89 different filters and found that the under the sink reverse osmosis filters and two-stage filters proved to be the most effective at removing PFAS.

Congress Boosts Great Lakes Cleanup Money

Congress authorized funding of  $320M for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The initiative has funded thousands of projects throughout the Great Lakes basin since 2010, helping to clean up some of the most toxic places around the Great Lakes and restoring wetlands and shoreline habitats. 

Michigan teen turns plastic thrown in the Great Lakes into clothing

Jackson Reigler turned a passion for reducing plastic pollution into a business.  As a junior in high school, Reigler sold t-shirts made from recycled plastic purchased from China.  Two years later the business has grown and is now sourcing the recycled shirts from the US, further reducing environmental impacts from shipping.  Reigler donates 5% of proceeds to nonprofits working to preserve the Great Lakes. A goal for the company is to incorporate more plastic from beach cleanups and eventually having the shirts sourced entirely from Great Lakes plastics.

South Side Chicago Residents Working on Lead Issues

Educators and community leaders gathered at BIG’s (Blacks in Green) Green Living Room last week to take action to identify lead contamination problems on the South Side of Chicago.  Freshwater Future staff members were on-hand to assist with lead sampling techniques and to share what other community Water Councils are doing to address drinking water issues.

Pictured: Freshwater Future’s Alicia Smith, Brandon Tyus, Ann Baughman, & Alexis Smith with teachers, authors, and professionals of the Chicago Community.

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-16th-2020/

Alexis Smith

January 24, 2020

This week:  Supreme Court Rules Flint Residents Can Sue City and State Over Water + Indiana Attempts to Limit Lake Access + Michigan Sues 17 Companies Over PFAS + Ice Balls Roll Up on Great Lakes Shores + Michigan’s Governor Requested to Declare Water Shutoffs Health Emergency

Supreme Court Rules Flint Residents Can Sue City and State Over Water

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld lower court decisions that would allow Flint residents to pursue legal cases against the City and State regulators related to the Flint Water Crisis.   The Flint Water Crisis started in 2014 when the City switched water supplies and failed to use corrosion control that caused an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease and lead contaminated water.  With this decision, Flint residents can take steps to hold accountable government officials for the crisis.

Indiana Attempts to Limit Lake Access

Public access and use of Lake Michigan’s shoreline in Indiana was validated in 2018 by the Indiana Supreme Court.  Indiana legislators introduced a bill that would transfer the ownership of Lake Michigan shoreline from the State of Indiana to private property owners. Indiana’s Lake Michigan shore runs 45-miles and many areas are dealing with erosion from the high water levels.

Michigan Sues 17 Companies Over PFAS

The State of Michigan is suing 17 companies for environmental contamination from the family of toxic chemicals called PFAS used in products for waterproofing, stain repellents, and fire retardants.  Scientific research shows health impacts from exposure to these chemicals including thyroid problems, cancer, and developmental and immunity problems for children.  The lawsuit seeks damages based on companies knowing the impacts and hiding them from consumers.

Ice Balls Roll Up on Great Lakes Shores

Beachcombing on the Great Lakes is for all seasons. Wintertime can be the best time to find interesting rocks and the only time of year you’ll find ice balls. Ice balls form when ice chunks are rolled over and over by waves smoothing out the jagged edges. Check out this video of ice balls formed recently on Lake Michigan.

Michigan’s Governor Requested to Declare Water Shutoffs Health Emergency

Shutting off water from unpaid bills is a disaster according to Mark Fancher, attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).  Two groups, the ACLU and Great Lakes Environmental Law Center asked Governor Whitmer to put a moratorium on water shutoffs in Detroit. Research shows that water shutoffs significantly increase public health infections.

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-january-24th-2020/

Alexis Smith

January 17, 2020

This week:  Trump Administration Attacks on Water and Environment + Minnesota Court of Appeals Reversed Three Permits for Mining Operation + Will Your Representative Stand for Clean Water? + Tell Your Senators–Don’t Delay Action on Toxic Chemicals (PFAS) in Drinking Water + Trump Rollback of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

Trump Administration Attacks on Water and Environment

The Trump Administration recently initiated several setbacks to existing environmental laws and announced veto action for legislation that protects water supplies.  Together, we can raise our voices to prevent harmful changes to the laws that keep our families and communities healthy. Our country’s environmental legacy has strong bi-partisan support; and residents throughout the Great Lakes region have always stepped up to take action when asked.

In the coming weeks, you will receive more emails from us that give you a way to VOICE your concerns about the attacks on water and environment.  Hopefully, you can take the time to add your name to petitions and other actions to educate decision-makers and protect what we all value-clean water!

Minnesota Court of Appeals Reversed Three Permits for Mining Operation

Two dam safety permits and the permit to mine for the Polymet Mine in Minnesota were rejected by the Minnesota Court of Appeals stating that criticisms of the mining company were not adequately reviewed by a neutral administrative law judge.  As a result, the decisions for those permits now moves to a contested case hearing. WaterLegacy, the organization that appealed the permit decisions, applauded the Court’s decision for a more rigorous and open review of the permits.  In a separate legal case, Minnesota state regulators face charges of suppressing concerns from the U. S. EPA about a water permit for this mine and destroying records.

Will Your Representative Stand for Clean Water?

A resolution introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives denounces U.S. EPA initiatives that make our water less safe by weakening the Clean Water Act. Introduced by Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich) and Chris Pappas (D-NH), the resolution allows voters to check if their elected officials will stand up for clean water.  The resolution opposes recent and proposed actions by the U.S. EPA including repealing science-based protections for streams and wetlands, weakening toxic pollution discharge limits for power plants, and refusing to develop regulations to avoid and minimize spills of hazardous substances.  Freshwater Future will keep you posted on this resolution and provide ways to communicate with your officials.

Action: Tell Your Senators–Don’t Delay Action on Toxic Chemicals (PFAS) in Drinking Water

The U.S. EPA has known about the risks posed by the family of toxic chemicals called PFAS for decades and failed to act.  Our communities can’t wait any longer for action from EPA. No one should have to worry about whether their water is safe.

Last Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed, with bipartisan support, the PFAS Action Act (H.B. 535). Earlier this week, we sent an email asking you to 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.

  • Protects our communities and workers, especially our firefighters, that are using these harmful products.

Now it is up to the Senate to pass the PFAS Action Act to reduce ongoing PFAS releases into the air and water, set limits for drinking water, and clean up polluted sites. Please sign this petition to ask your Senators to vote in favor of the Senate version of the PFAS Action Act.

A screening of a new documentary on PFAS, No Defense will air at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor on Wednesday, February 19th.  No Defense centers around the stories of people that live on or near Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda, Michigan, and drank water poisoned with PFAS chemicals — water that still flows from the former base today, contaminating the surrounding town, lake, and the people who live there.

Trump Rollback of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

On January 1, 1970, President Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) with overwhelming bipartisan support from Congress.  This landmark legislation required a review process to identify and reveal significant environmental, social, economic, or public health impacts of federal actions.  The Trump administration proposed weakening this process under the guise of “streamlining” and “permitting reform.”  The gutting of NEPA would send us backward, particularly with the provision to exclude climate considerations from NEPA reviews for federal projects (e.g., oil and gas drilling and the permitting of coal power plants).  Another proposed change is to restrict public comment on federal environmental reviews.

Stay tuned for opportunities to take action to prevent these harmful changes to our laws that keep our drinking water and surface waters clean and safe.

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-january-17th-2020/

Alexis Smith

January 9, 2020

This week:  Michigan Accepting Comments on Drinking Water Standard for PFAS Chemicals + Side by Side Comparison of the World’s Greatest Lakes + Steel Rod left in Straits of Mackinac Moves 150 feet due to Currents + Erosion Endangers Goderich, ON Water Treatment Plant + Update on Green Ooze in Detroit

Your Action Needed to Push the PFAS Action Act Forward in the US Senate

This week the US House of Representatives will be voting on the PFAS Action Act.  The Act will likely pass the House.  It will face a bigger hurdle when it reaches the US Senate.  Please watch for an URGENT email from Freshwater Future next week to sign a petition to Senators to urge them to pass the important protections in this Act.

Michigan Accepting Comments on Drinking Water Standard for PFAS Chemicals

The State of Michigan has proposed rules to set drinking water standards for the toxic chemicals called PFAS. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) Drinking Water and Environmental Health Division are holding three public hearings on the proposed rules that would establish how much of seven PFAS compounds can be in your drinking water.

Don’t miss your chance to provide your comments about these important rules. You can attend one of three meetings or submit your comments in writing by Friday, January 31, 2020, to EGLE-PFAS-RuleMaking@Michigan.gov.  Visit our website for tips on submitting comments.

Side by Side Comparison of the World’s Greatest Lakes

This cool infographic compares the World’s 25 largest lakes, showing them side by side.  What is obvious is that our five Great Lakes–Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior are truly amazing with 20% of the world’s surface freshwater.

Steel Rod left in Straits of Mackinac Moves 150 feet due to  Currents

Enbridge Energy recently removed a 45-foot steel rod that was dropped in November while collecting bedrock samples for the proposed tunnel.  The approximately 250-pound rod moved 150-feet in two-months time from the strong currents and was found adjacent to the west leg of the pipeline.  The disposal of the rod was a violation of the Great Lakes Submerged Lands Act although no fine was imposed.

Erosion Endangers Goderich, ON Water Treatment Plant

High water levels are wreaking havoc all over the Great Lakes region.  Goderich, Ontario recently armored its drinking water treatment plant located about 100 feet from the water’s edge, to protect it from rising lake levels and erosion.  The stone brought in from Owen Sound will cost upwards of $1.5 million, a costly bill for the community of 10,000 residents.

Update on Green Ooze in Detroit

The owner of the Madison Heights electro-plating facility responsible for the pollution went to prison last week to begin a one-year sentence for illegally storing hazardous waste. The discovery of the hexavalent chromium waste renewed interest in adopting polluter pay bills introduced last year in Michigan and criticism of state and Federal oversight of the cleanup at the facility.

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!

Grant Funding Available for Habitat Restoration

Sustain Our Great Lakes announced the request for grant proposals to restore and enhance aquatic habitats.  Grant funding will be awarded in five categories:

  • Restore and Enhance Stream and Riparian Habitat
  • Restore and Enhance Coastal Wetland Habitat
  • Expand Green Stormwater Infrastructure in Great Lakes Communities
  • Maintain and Enhance the Benefits of Habitat Restoration through Invasive Species Control
  • Restore and Preserve Natural Areas and Biodiversity in Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan Watershed

A webinar on January 16, 2020, at 11 am ET will provide more information on the grant program.

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/uncategorized/freshwater-weekly-january-9th-2020/

Alexis Smith

January 2, 2020

This week:  Youth Water Protector, Autumn Peltier Stands Up for Great Lakes + Lake Huron Site in Running for Nuclear Waste Facility + Lawsuit Filed Against the City of Cleveland for Water Shutoffs + Satellite Image Captures Details of Great Lakes

Youth Water Protector, Autumn Peltier Stands Up for Great Lakes

Sixteen-year-old, Greta Thunberg’s climate strike sparked activism and awareness of the climate crisis around the world. Youth in the Great Lakes region are leading on environmental and water issues too.  Fifteen years old, Autumn Peltier is a member of the Wikewemikong First Nation and a water protector.  Following in her Aunt Josephine Mandamin’s footsteps, she advocates for clean drinking water and waterways for indigenous peoples.  Peltier has spoken to the United Nations in 2018 and 2019 sharing the slow progress to help indigenous communities access clean drinking water.  Thank you, Autumn, for your leadership.

Lake Huron Site in Running for Nuclear Waste Facility

Huron-Kinloss/South Bruce, in Bruce County, Ontario, is being considered to store Canada’s most radioactive waste.  The repository would store spent nuclear fuel 1,650 feet below ground.  Canada has more than 128 million pounds of radioactive waste waiting to be put in a repository.  Many critics including US Senators are concerned that the site’s proximity to Lake Huron, a source of drinking water for millions could be catastrophic.

Lawsuit Filed Against the City of Cleveland for Water Shutoffs

A lawsuit filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund against the City of Cleveland for discrimination related to water services.  The suit claims that policies result in overbilling, shutoffs with inadequate communication, and liens on properties disproportionately affect black census tracks.

Satellite Image Captures Details of Great Lakes

A NASA satellite on December 22, 2019, captured a stunningly clear image of the Great Lakes.  The image shows green bands in Lake Erie from algal blooms, dark blue of deep waters in the lakes, and snow on the shorelines.

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!

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Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/uncategorized/freshwater-weekly-december-2nd-2019/

Alexis Smith

December 26, 2019

This week:  Green Liquid Found Oozing onto Detroit Highway + Hundreds Attend PFAS Meeting in Marinette, WI with Attorney General + Earthquakes under Lake Erie + Snow on the Ground Required to Tell these Ojibwe Tales + Photos Capture Power of Great Lakes Waves

Cancer-Causing Green Liquid Found Oozing onto Detroit Highway

A green liquid, hexavalent chromium leaked from a basement of an industry onto a major highway in Detroit last Friday.  The discovery was found in time to prevent it from reaching Lake St. Clair, but it will take days to clean up the chemical in the business and drains.  Hexavalent chromium causes cancer, and was the pollutant in the movie “Erin Brockovich.”

Hundreds Attend PFAS Meeting in Marinette, WI with Attorney General

A public meeting drew hundreds to learn more about Wisconsin’s Attorney General’s investigation into the contamination of drinking water with PFAS produced by Johnson Controls in Marinette.  Residents shared stories about the contamination.  Freshwater Future offers an in-home PFAS test kit (see below).

Earthquakes under Lake Erie

Lake Erie has been shaking.  Since December 7, there were three earthquakes under Lake Erie.  According to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, northeastern Ohio is considered a tectonically active zone.

Snow on the Ground Required to Tell these Ojibwe Tales

The long, dark days of winter are ideal for storytelling.  Ojibwe Culture considers storytelling an art and a way to share important teachings about the world.  Many of the stories feature woodland creatures and some require snow on the ground before they can be told.  This article in DL-Online has links to a few of these stories. 

Photos Capture Power of Great Lakes Waves

Dave Sandford braves the cold waters of Lake Erie in the winter to photograph the waves.  According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), waves can reach heights of 25 feet.  Sandford’s spectacular images capture the power of our inland seas.

Give the Gift of Clean Water

It’s not too late to give the gift of clean water with a gift membership to Freshwater Future.  We will send the gift recipient a card, set of note cards, and a Great Lakes sticker. Best of all, the gift membership supports our work to take on threats to our drinking water and finding solutions that give people the tools to advocate for clean water in their communities.

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!

https://twitter.com/FreshwaterFutur
https://www.facebook.com/FreshwaterFuture/
https://freshwaterfuture.org/

Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/uncategorized/freshwater-weekly-january-2nd-2020/

Alexis Smith

December 20, 2019

This week:  Will Slow Action and Politics Result in Asian Carp in the Great Lakes? + Update on Uranium Site Spill in the Detroit River  + New York State Bill to Fund Purchase of Floodplain Properties + Bipartisan US Bill Introduced to Address Emerging Threats to Drinking Water  + It’s Raining and Snowing PFAS

Will Slow Action and Politics Result in Asian Carp in the Great Lakes?

More environmental DNA of Asian carp discovered this fall in the South Fork of Chicago River’s South Branch (also known as Bubbly Creek) is a warning that more must be done to prevent these voracious fish from establishing in the Great Lakes.  Slow and delayed action to fund and install barriers benefits the shipping industry but could result in devastating impacts to commercial fishing and the Great Lakes ecology.

Update on Uranium Site Spill in the Detroit River

Last week, we shared the announcement that erosion and spill of possible radioactive material into the Detroit River at a bulk storage site posed a risk to downstream drinking water sources.  Freshwater Future staff member, Alexis Smith, attended a public meeting inquiring about the lack of oversight and transparency.   Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy issued a violation to Revere Dock and Detroit Bulk Storage for allowing the material to enter the river.

New York State Bill to Fund Purchase of Floodplain Properties

New York is considering a new program to help people sell land in floodplains to address recent flooding problems in the Mohawk Valley, Southern Tier and shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. The legislation introduced would increase the sale price to pre-flood conditions, helping people to purchase new homes.

Bipartisan US Bill Introduced to Address Emerging Threats to Drinking Water

The Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act introduced last week with bipartisan support would help states respond to emerging contaminants, like PFAS.  If passed the legislation would develop a research strategy to improve the identification, analysis, and treatment methods for emerging contaminants and provide federal support and technical assistance to communities that have emerging contaminants in their water supply.

It’s Raining and Snowing PFAS

A study conducted for the National Atmospheric Deposition Program found PFAS in rainwater.  Rainwater samples taken over a week from 30 different sites, mostly on the east coast contained one of 36 different PFAS compounds studied. The concentration of PFAS varied with several measuring less than 1 ppt, but one sample had 5.5 ppt.

Give the Gift of Clean Water

It’s not too late to give the gift of clean water with a gift membership to Freshwater Future.  We will send the gift recipient a card, set of note cards, and a Great Lakes sticker. Best of all, the gift membership supports our work to take on threats to our drinking water and finding solutions that give people the tools to advocate for clean water in their communities.

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!

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Original Article

Blog – Freshwater Future

Blog – Freshwater Future

https://freshwaterfuture.org/uncategorized/freshwater-weekly-december-21st-2019/

Alexis Smith