Freshwater Weekly 02/15/18
This week: our take on the federal budget proposal + open letter on Detroit water shutoffs + improvements to Canadian environmental law + the view from Lake Superior + funding for Great Lakes protection + more ways to make a difference.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S BUDGET UNDERMINES CLEAN WATER
The 30 million people who depend on the Great Lakes for their drinking water, health, jobs, and way of life deserve a better deal than the President’s proposing in his budget. The administration’s plan eliminates 1/3 of the Environmental Protection Agency’s funding and reduces funding for the critical Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by 90%. With the health of our Lakes threatened by toxic algal outbreaks and invasive species like Asian carp—and one of the biggest drinking water crises in history still unfolding in Flint, Michigan—it is simply unacceptable to cut the agency responsible for drinking water safety and to defund the program that protects and restores the Great Lakes.
The administration also released its infrastructure plan, which looks to privatize existing public infrastructure like our municipal water systems. For a region that holds 20% of the Earth’s fresh water, privatizing public infrastructure is the antithesis of what we need to create a sustainable future. Learn more on our blog.
OPEN LETTER ON DETROIT WATER SHUTOFFS
The need to ensure that our water is clean and accessible is more important than ever. While the City of Flint is still reeling from the devastating effects of lead contamination, residents in the City of Detroit struggle with thousands of water shutoffs and public health threats like widespread Hepatitis A. The city’s short-term financial assistance program for low-income customers relies on philanthropic funding, which is simply not sustainable. Public health officials are calling on the State of Michigan and the City of Detroit to develop a sustaining funding stream and affordability plan to ensure that those residents who qualify for Healthy Michigan also receive water service. Learn more here.
CANADA IMPROVES FISHERIES ACT & ENVIRONMENTAL LEGISLATION
Last week was a big one for Canadian environmental legislation. The Canadian government introduced measures to amend the Fisheries Act and several other environmental laws. If enacted, these amended laws could significantly impact the health of the country’s waters, including the Great Lakes.
Among the most significant changes is the proposed restoration of habitat protection in the Fisheries Act. Six years ago, the Fisheries Act was altered to eliminate the powerful HADD provision, which largely prohibited “harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat.” This much-anticipated reversal returns those protections and makes it more difficult to undertake activities with negative impacts on fish and their habitat. Other amendments to the Act include stronger enforcement and clearer rules for approving projects or proposals that may damage habitat.
The other pieces of legislation would result in a new federal process for making decisions about big projects like pipelines and mines, and would require all major projects on navigable waterways to undergo a review.
This is great news! Many of these steps are positive, but there is more room for improvement, and we’ll be sharing next steps in the coming weeks.
WHAT DOES THE LAKE SAY?
Lake Superior has a Twitter account. You’re welcome.
OUR 2018 GRANT FUNDS ARE NOW AVAILABLE
One of the most important and impactful ways Freshwater Future protects the Great Lakes 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.
MORE WAYS TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
There are lots of simple ways to help protect our waters. Find more at freshwaterfuture.org/take-action.