FRESH, December 6, 2022: Report Urges Michigan Officials to Adopt Water-Affordability Plan for Low-Income Residents

December 6, 2022

Fresh is a biweekly newsletter from Circle of Blue that unpacks the biggest international, state, and local policy news stories facing the Great Lakes region today. Sign up for Fresh: A Great Lakes Policy Briefing, straight to your inbox, every other Tuesday.

— Rachel Duckett, Interim Fresh Editor

This Week’s Watersheds

  • Nonprofit groups urge Michigan officials to adopt a water-affordability strategy for low-income residents.
  • A federal judge ordered the energy giant Enbridge Inc. and an Indian tribe to come up with a solution to avoid the “draconian” shutdown of the Line 5 oil pipeline.
  • After the city revealed a 26-year sewage leak, Ontario’s environment minister said he ordered Hamilton to audit its sewage infrastructure.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration awarded nearly $1.5 million to projects combating Great Lakes algal blooms.

A project called Renew Harbor Island aims to clean polluted industrial sites on Grand Haven’s Harbor Island, which is surrounded by the Grand River, a Lake Michigan tributary.

“The stakes couldn’t be higher. Our drinking water, along with the drinking water for millions of people in West Michigan, is drawn from Lake Michigan. If contaminated, we could impact much more than just our city island.” — Derek Gajdos, Grand Haven public works director

Harbor Island has been the site of a saw mill, municipal dump, and coal-fired power plant. Before redevelopment can occur, the city will have to clean up 100 years of contamination, including PFAS and coal ash. The project will be the topic of a community meeting on December 6.

Fresh from the Great Lakes News Collaborative

  • 1, 4-dioxane groundwater pollution eventually could cause vapors in some Ann Arbor basements — Michigan Radio
  • Michigan policy change means more children can get help for lead poisoning — Bridge Michigan
  • Mapping the Great Lakes: Pumpkin production — Great Lakes Now

The Great Lakes News Collaborative includes Bridge Michigan; Circle of Blue; Great Lakes Now at Detroit Public Television; and Michigan Radio, Michigan’s NPR News Leader. We work together to produce news and information about the impact of climate change, pollution, and aging infrastructure on the Great Lakes and drinking water. This independent journalism is supported by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. Find all the work here.

Report Proposes Water Affordability for Low-Income Michigan Residents

A recent analysis of six Michigan communities released by activists and conservation groups urged officials to adopt a strategy to mitigate the state’s water-affordability crisis. An estimated one out of 10 households is unable to afford clean water. The report found that high water rates left families in unsafe conditions.

The study, which found some families paying 20 percent or more of their income for water, was sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center, We The People of Detroit and Freshwater Future.

In the News

LINE 5 PIPELINE: A federal judge ordered the energy giant Enbridge Inc. and the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa to come up with an emergency plan to prevent spills from a pipeline that runs across the tribe’s reservation. The tribe sued Enbridge in 2019 to remove a section of the 70-year-old pipeline in Wisconsin. The company agreed and plans to build a $450 million pipeline around the reservation.

Looking Ahead

SEWAGE AUDIT: After the city discovered sewage had been leaking into Hamilton Harbor for the past 26 years, Ontario’s environment minister said he ordered Hamilton to undergo a sewage infrastructure audit. The city will have to develop a plan to clean up the harbor, which is part of Lake Ontario.

ALGAL BLOOMS: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration awarded $1.5 million in federal funding to support projects that aim to combat Great Lakes algal blooms. Recipients include the University of Toledo, University of Michigan Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research, and Bowling Green State University.

Upcoming Events

December 5-7, 2022 – 2022 Virtual Great Lakes PFAS Summit– register

December 6, 2022 – EPA Great Lakes Advisory Board (GLAB) Virtual Public Meeting – register

December 6, 2022 – Reflections on Lake Ontario Water Quality Progress: IJC Public Input Webinar – register

December 8, 2022 – Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement Nutrients Annex: 2022 Lake Erie Update – register

December 13, 2022 – Reflections on St. Lawrence River Water Quality Progress: IJC Public Input Webinar – register

Other News

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