Freshwater Weekly — June 15th, 2018

Posted on June 15, 2018 by

This week: U.P Mineral Lease + Water Affordability + Algae Forecast + Line 5 Poll

Freshwater Future Calls on Michigan DNR to Deny UPX Mineral Lease in Upper Peninsula

UPX Minerals, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Canadian mining company Highland Copper, is seeking to lease more than 3,800 acres of State-owned minerals in Iron and Marquette Counties. Many of these mineral properties are underneath private property, homes, camps, rivers and streams, lakes, wetlands – even nature reserves and the DNR’s own Rocking Chair Lakes Natural Area, located 25 miles northwest of Marquette. Under Michigan law, any form of mineral exploration is prohibited in a designated “Natural Area.”

Freshwater Future signed-on to public comments authored by the Mining Action Group of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition, which were also endorsed by the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, the Superior Watershed Partnership and Land Trust, Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK), Concerned Citizens of Big Bay, the Michigan Environmental Council, and the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.

We collectively criticized the DNR’s overly-permissive lease classifications, requested on-the-ground reviews for lands of special environmental concern, and called on the DNR to hold a public meeting in the Upper Peninsula prior to making any final lease decision. View the full comments here.

This Week’s Action: U.S. Senator Kamala Harris Introduces Water Affordability Bill

Last Wednesday, U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris introduced the Water Affordability Act of 2018, legislation that would help low-income families across the country pay for rising sewer and water bills. The Act would direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish a pilot program, named the Low Income Sewer and Water Assistance Program (LISWAP), to award grants for public water utility companies to assist low-income households with bill repayment. Eligibility for grant assistance would consider “environmental risk factors” and “inequitable environmental burdens” as part of the eligibility criteria.

Freshwater Future supports this bill, and we’ve made it easy to tell your senator to support this bill too—here. Let’s make clean, affordable water an election issue!

Students Experience First Trip to Great Lake

If this doesn’t make you smile, we don’t know what will.

Many of us cherish formative experiences with our Great Lakes that have shaped us in profound ways, and we hope every child has the chance to experience the joy and wonder we feel. This story was a moving reminder of why we wake up every day to do what we do.

Algae Forecast: Lake Erie Algal Bloom to be Noticeably Smaller Than Last Year

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this summer’s algal bloom in Lake Erie could be the second-smallest since 2012. To date, about 204 metric tons of phosphorus has accumulated from the Maumee River (one of the primary sources of nutrient pollution) into Lake Erie. That’s the third-lowest amount this decade. Only the mild-bloom years of 2012 and 2016 had less. One probable factor in this nutrient pollution reduction is a less rainy spring.

Researchers have noted a general correlation between nutrient loading on the Maumee and the intensity of the subsequent summer algal bloom on the Lake.

Poll: Michiganders Want Line 5 Oil Pipeline Shut Down

According to a National Wildlife Federation (NWF) poll, 87% of Michigan voters are concerned about a Line 5 spill in the Straits of Mackinac and 54% want it completely shut down. 46% percent of likely voters say that a candidate’s position on Line 5 will influence their vote, and 84% of those voters would be less likely to vote for a candidate in support of Line 5.

Read NWF’s release here for more information about the poll, how it was conducted, the demographic breakdowns, and the specific questions that were asked.

Ways to Make a Difference

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


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