Freshwater Future Weekly: July 28th, 2023

This Week: How to Keep Your Family Safe While Chicago Replaces Over 400,000 Lead Service Lines; Meet the Spring Grantees Protecting the Great Lakes from Hazardous Waste; The First Federal Water Assistance Program is Ending, Still Time to Apply; Join Us on August 5th to Kick Off Freshwater Future’s Partnership with Greta Van Fleet and Founders Brewing; Climate Change Is Making Lake Erie's Algae Blooms Worse
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How to Keep Your Family Safe While Chicago (or any location) Replaces Over 400,000 Lead Service Lines Chicago holds the unfortunate distinction of having the highest number of lead water pipes in the entire US. The city is struggling to replace over 400,000 lead service pipes at an estimated cost of $8 billion. Lead service line replacements are necessary because no amount of lead is safe for humans and tests have shown that some households in Chicago have elevated lead levels at their tap. Freshwater Future’s new booklet can help keep your household safe before, during, and after lead service line replacements. Chicago residents can also request a free lead water test kit or for a technician visit to test their drinking water. Freshwater Future will keep you updated on this issue. 

Meet the Spring Grantees Protecting the Great Lakes from Hazardous Waste 

In the spring and fall, Freshwater Future distributes grants to grassroots organizations advocating on water issues in Great Lakes communities. Allow us to introduce two of our recent grantees dedicated to safeguarding our waters from hazardous waste: 

The Association for the Wolf Lake Initiative is actively involved in monitoring the watershed’s water chemistry and quality. Their efforts extend across the watershed, which spans from Illinois to Indiana. They are collaborating with government entities, private landowners, and public health officials to address and minimize unlawful waste disposal that poses a threat to the health of the waters in the Wolf Lake Watershed.

Just Transition Northwest Indiana is confronting the loophole in federal regulations that exempts half of the country’s toxic coal ash waste from regulations needed to keep our waters safe. Their advocacy to the U.S. EPA seeks closure of this severely damaging exception in the Coal Combustion Residuals Rule. The Just Transition team is mobilizing public participation, collecting comments, and conducting a public education campaign to close the loophole. 

The First Federal Water Assistance Program is Ending – Still Time to Apply

Two years of the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) are coming to a close this fall, but there is still time to apply. Great Lakes states still have millions of dollars in assistance funds to distribute to people in need. Pennsylvania initially spent all of their dollars, but has now received an additional $5 million in LIHWAP funds and has re-launched their program. While most states will stop accepting applications on September 30th, Pennsylvania will close August 11th and New York and Illinois on August 31st. For more information, check out Freshwater Future’s score card that shows the roll-out of each Great Lakes states’ LIHWAP implementation. Please share this information with your networks to ensure families in need can access this program before it ends.

Join Us on August 5th to Kick Off Freshwater Future’s Partnership with Greta Van Fleet and Founders Brewing!

Come and celebrate an amazing combination of great music, fantastic beer, and making a difference for our beloved Great Lakes on August 5th at the Founders Taproom in Grand Rapids! The festivities will kick off at 11 am and continue throughout the day, and we are thrilled to invite people of all ages to join us at the launch party for the 4 Giants Starcatcher Haze IPA.This extraordinary beer is the result of a collaboration between Founders Brewing Company and Michigan’s legendary rock band, Greta Van Fleet, in celebration of their new Starcatcher album. Not only will you have the chance to try this special brew, but you’ll also be contributing to a worthy cause. For every pint or package of Starcatcher Haze sold, $1 will be donated to Freshwater Future, with a maximum total donation of $20,000. We are truly grateful for this partnership and the invaluable support it provides in fulfilling our mission of protecting Great Lakes waters and people. The custom brew will be available in select regions in August. For more details, please visit Founder’s website.

Climate Change Is Making Lake Erie’s Algae Blooms Worse

Scientists from York University in Toronto studied insect larvae to understand the history of low oxygen levels in Lake Erie’s deep waters. They discovered that the levels of oxygen started decreasing when the population living around the lake increased and when farming became more intense, especially from the 1950s onwards. Even though oxygen levels improved in the 1980s due to initial phosphorus abatement programs, they were never fully restored. The harmful algal blooms (HABs) that seriously affect Lake Erie every summer are exacerbated because the lack of oxygen in the deep waters causes phosphorus to be released from the sediment. This study shows that Lake Erie is already at risk of low oxygen levels, and climate change will make it even worse. It’s important to take-action on a larger scale to improve the water quality of Lake Erie. Join Freshwater Future as we draw attention to the most populated Great Lake – home to over 13 million people – with #WeAreLakeErieDay on August 16th!