Freshwater Weekly — March 30, 2018

Posted on March 30, 2018 by

This week:  Happy Holiday + Michigan Lead Rule Revision + AquaHacking + Ohio Declares Lake Erie “Impaired”


We wish you a safe and joyous holiday weekend. Freshwater Weekly will be taking a break next week, but we’ll be back in your inbox on April 13th.


Freshwater Future provided a comment last week on the proposed revisions to the Michigan Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).

In its comment, Freshwater Future raised several questions inadequately addressed in the Regulatory Impact Statement and Cost-Benefit Analysis released alongside the proposed rule revision.

  1. USEPA has twice postponed the deadline for the proposed federal LCR revisions, and it is now expected to be released in the Fall of 2018. Meanwhile, MDEQ has proposed revisions to the state’s LCR, and if finalized, Michigan’s LCR standard would be more stringent than the federal standard. What happens if the federal LCR’s future revisions differ from or exceed the proposed Michigan standard? How will the state respond?
  2. What scientific basis can the MDEQ provide for setting the household lead action level at 10 ppb? Public health advocates have proposed much lower limits, taking into account the age of the child, the year of home construction, and presence of lead in dust or soil. The American Academy of Pediatrics deems that there is no safe exposure to lead.
  3. MDEQ estimates that 100,000 lead service lines (LSLs) need replacement. A national survey of LSL occurrence estimated 460,000 LSLs in Michigan. Why are these estimates so different? Given MDEQ’s own goal to eliminate all LSLs, their proposal would fall substantially short.

Freshwater Future recommended that the MDEQ establish a timeline to reduce the acceptable level of lead to 0 ppb, which is compatible with current health science on lead. We have also recommended that only copper water lines be allowed to replace lead lines. Galvanized steel and PVC pipes have their own health concerns—copper is the safest alternative.


Each year, over the course of several months, the AquaHacking Challenge engages students and young professionals in science, engineering, and marketing from various universities to create multi-disciplinary teams and develop clean-tech engineering, web, and mobile solutions to water issues affecting the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Basin. Freshwater Future’s Nancy Goucher sits on the AquaHacking advisory committee,

If you think you’ve got the next big idea in water conservation, learn more about the issues being addressed this year and how to get involved.


The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the draft 2018 water quality report last week, and––for the first time––has designated the open waters of Lake Erie “impaired.” The designation qualifies Lake Erie for additional federal resources to help combat harmful algal blooms in the Western Lake Erie basin. In recent years, microcystin––a toxin produced by blue-green algae––has threatened the quality of drinking water and the safety of water recreation.

Freshwater Future has been working on both sides of the border to protect Lake Erie from the threat of toxic algal blooms. Ohio’s move is a small but important step in implementing the state and provincial nutrient reduction plans that are necessary to curb algae growth in the lake.


One of the most important ways Freshwater Future protects Great Lakes waters is by making grants to grassroots groups working throughout the region to protect the waters in their communities. We’re now accepting grant applications through April 10, 2018 from grassroots groups engaged in local advocacy efforts to protect shorelines, inland lakes, rivers, groundwater, drinking water, and wetlands in the Great Lakes Basin.

You can find all the details you’ll need to get started applying for a grant—including the request for proposals—here on our website. And if you’re not part of a grassroots group in need of these funds, help us spread the word by forwarding this email to someone who is. If you have any questions, email for more information.


There are lots of simple ways to help protect our waters. Find more at


  • Pollution from CAFO animal waste contributes to toxic algae and threatens public health. Click the link to let…
  • Ohio to test 1500 municipalities for PFAS, but not moving forward drinking water standards for these toxic chemical…
  • Congress has an opportunity now to protect our kids from toxic chemicals, like #PFAS, that are linked to serious he…
  • Congress, protect families that live near military bases! Ban #PFAS and dangerous “forever chemicals” that threaten…
  • Rebuilding Trust: Flint teens help their hometown recover from the water crisis #FlintWater

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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.