Freshwater Weekly 9/21/17

Posted on September 21, 2017 by

This week: funding for grassroots groups + last chance to save Clean Water Rule + Indigenous water walk in Toronto + Lake Erie algae watch + new Line 5 concerns + our take on Nestlé’s controversial bottled water operation + ways you can make a difference.


At Freshwater Future, we’re proud to support grassroots groups working on the ground to protect the water in their communities. Our fall project grant period is closing soon! Don’t miss this opportunity to apply for awards up to $3,500 for projects that promote water protection and restoration. Applications are due September 29, 2017—just a week away!

Learn more about our grant programs—or apply for a grant—here. Please call Becca at 231-348-8200, ext. 104 with any questions.


The EPA wants to eliminate an Obama-era rule that protects the water supply for 117 million Americans, and there’s only one week left to make your voice heard.

In June, EPA Director Scott Pruitt announced a proposal to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule. The rule clarified longstanding confusion about the water protected by the 1972 Clean Water Act, declaring streams and wetlands and millions of acres of small waterways—in addition to navigable waterways—eligible for federal protection from pollution.

Now the EPA wants to roll back this protection and redefine “waters of the US,” leading to the same confusion the Clean Water Rule was designed to address and putting our water at risk.

The EPA is accepting public comments on this proposal through September 27, 2017, and we’ve made it easy to add your voice. Get some state-specific talking points on our blog to help you craft a quick comment that will have maximum impact.

TAKE ACTION: Get guidance and submit comments on our blog.


This Sunday, a group of indigenous women is leading a walk along the Toronto waterfront to honor and protect our waters. Kim Wheatley, a Toronto-based Anishinaabe grandmother from Shawanaga First Nation Reserve, explained the significance of the walk: “Water is not a garbage dump for us, and it’s certainly not a commodity for us.”

All are welcome to join this ceremonial walk and water blessing. You can find more details about the Great Lakes Water Walk on their website, and get walk updates in real time on Facebook.


Blooms on Lake Erie right now are as bad as we’ve seen them all summer. The algae is visible on large swaths of the western basin from the Maumee Bay in Ohio northeast to the Ontario coast.

The satellite images also make it clear that the blooms are fueled by phosphorus pollution flowing into the lake from the Maumee River in Ohio (the southwest corner of the lake in the dark red).

The blooms in western Lake Erie can be dangerous for you and your pets to swim in, so it’s a good idea to check Ohio’s EPA site on harmful algal blooms before going in the lake.


Members of Michigan’s Pipeline Safety Advisory Board recently learned that the areas of missing protective coating on Enbridge’s 64-year-old pipeline under the Mackinac Straits are much larger than originally reported. The Canadian oil company initially described the damaged areas as “Band-Aid sized,” but has since disclosed that seven of the eight areas are over 7 inches in diameter, and some are up to a foot and a half wide.

This adds to growing public concern about the safety of the aging pipeline, the potential for a catastrophic oil spill in the Great Lakes, and the transparency of the company that leases Michigan bottomland that is held in the public trust.


At the heart of Nestlé’s controversial bottled-water operation in mid-Michigan is a little-known multi-state law called the Great Lakes Compact. The agreement restricts water withdrawals that have a measurable negative impact on a surrounding watershed, and effectively bans all diversions outside the Great Lakes basin.

This week on our blog, we explore the Compact in its broader context, and ponder a future in which water is the new gold and the Great Lakes the world’s largest gold mine. Read more at


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


© 2022 Freshwater Future. All Rights Reserved.

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