Freshwater Weekly 1/11/18

Posted on January 11, 2018 by

This week: lake effect snow + a peek at the plan to clean up Lake Erie + help stop dramatic changes to Michigan environmental law + funding opportunities + new staff + more ways to make a difference.


Fun fact: in order for lake effect snow to form, cold air has to move over at least 62 miles of open water. Lake Erie is already almost 90% covered by ice, but those of us living on or around the other Great Lakes will have to wait awhile for enough ice coverage to shut down lake effect snow.


Speaking of Lake Erie, the governments of Ontario and Canada have just about finalized their Action Plan for cleaning up our shallowest Great Lake. The final version will be released next month, but the staff at our sister organization Freshwater Future Canada got a peek at the draft and we’ve had a chance to evaluate it.

The good news is the plan includes a number of our recommendations, including increased transparency and more money for research and monitoring.

Unfortunately, the plan doesn’t rise to the urgency of the challenges we’re working to address. It relies on programs that ask farmers to voluntarily reduce the runoff pollution that fuels toxic algal blooms. Voluntary measures simply won’t reduce pollution enough for the lake to recover. We need an innovative approach that combines new legislation, enforcement, and education.

In the year ahead, Freshwater Future Canada will continue advocating for the health and safety of Ontario families and do everything we can to push the government to develop smart programs and incentives to protect Lake Erie. Read more on our blog.


Michiganders, we need your help to stop two sets of bills that would undermine existing environmental protections and dramatically change how our environmental laws are implemented. If passed, these bills could impact all environmental law in Michigan, for years to come.

  1. Senate Bill 652 and House Bill 5333 transfer decision-making power from environmental experts to a committee of stakeholders comprised primarily of industry representatives. There is no requirement that committee members have environmental science education, training, or experience—only that they have a stake in the outcome of decisions.
  2. Senate Bill 653 and House Bill 5332 change the appeal process for environmental permit applicants. DEQ decisions—like denied permits for mining or for development in wetlands—could be appealed to a board of the governor’s political appointees, and their decisions would be final.

TAKE ACTION: Email your Michigan senator and representative today. Tell them you want experts—not industry—making the state’s environmental decisions; tell them to vote “NO” on this collection of bills.


The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and Great Lakes Commission are offering small grants to support local efforts to clean up Michigan rivers, streams and creeks. The application deadline is Feb. 20, 2018. Information about applying can be found here.

Sustain Our Great Lakes is soliciting applications for funding to restore and enhance habitat in the Great Lakes basin. The organization will host a webinar on January 16, 2018 at 11 AM Eastern Time/10 AM Central Time to share more information about funding priorities and the application process. Interested? Register here.  

Learn more about this and other grant opportunities on our website.


We welcomed three new staff members late in 2017. Meet Latia, Megan, and Mitch on our blog and learn about how they’re helping Freshwater Future protect the Great Lakes.


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.