Freshwater Weekly: April 27, 2020

Posted on April 27, 2020 by

April 24, 2020

This week: Gov. Whitmer’s Water Service Restoration Order Reports Are Available Online + Weak EPA Means More Water Pollution + Environmental Group Finds Elevated PFAS Levels In Creek Sediments + 10-Years Later, Still No Cleanup Plan at Air Force Base + Ignoring COVID-19, Enbridge Wants to Move Forward With Line 5 + Great Lakes Inspire Hope

Gov. Whitmer’s Water Service Restoration Order Reports Are Available Online: Cities Don’t Have Sufficient Information to Find Disconnected Homes

The Restoration Reports from water systems indicate that water service is slowly being restored to Michigan homes with over 1,500 residents getting water turned on in their homes, and we celebrate that change. We also call on the systems to ensure that they take all steps necessary to determine where residents still do not have water and ensure reconnections take place.  Statements in the reports such as cities “giving their best efforts to determine which occupied residences within their service areas do not have water service” is concerning and Freshwater Future is working with many localities to ensure this data is secured as quickly as possible. Governor Whitmer ordered water service restoration as a measure to fight against COVID-19.  Water reconnections are required to be reported to the state as well as posted online for residents. Residents can track the progress in each community by clicking here.

Weak EPA Means More Water Pollution

Weak enforcement of environmental regulations by the EPA under the Trump administration is resulting in more water pollution.  A report released this week shows that since the President took office, compliance with the Clean Water Act has declined significantly, with 62% more facilities in “significant noncompliance” compared with fiscal years 2012-2017. The EPA is initiating over 28% fewer enforcement actions. Unfortunately, many of the facilities out of compliance are located in low-income communities, putting these residents at greater risks for public health threats.  

Environmental Group Finds Elevated PFAS Levels In Creek Sediments

An environmental group, working with a group of teens in East Madison, WI discovered elevated PFAS levels in Starkweather Creek sediment. Governmental agencies assured Midwest Environmental Justice Organization (MEJO) officials PFAS levels were low in the sediment. However, reports showed significantly high PFAS levels of 21,000 parts-per-trillion. MEJO executive director, Maria Powell, PhD, calls on government officials to require more testing to determine health impacts and move forward with cleanup.

10-Years Later, Still No Cleanup Plan at Air Force Base

For a decade, an investigation of PFAS pollution at Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda, MI has been gathering data. Activists and local advisory board members are understandably upset as the Air Force receives $13.5 million only to further the investigation rather than take necessary actions to clean-up the contamination. U.S. Air Force officials state there is no imminent threat to Oscoda’s drinking water, since alternative water supplies are being provided.  However, advisories limit the amount of fish and game that can be eaten in the area and residents are to avoid contact with foamy lake water.

Ignoring COVID-19, Enbridge Wants to Move Forward With Replacement Pipeline and Tunnel

Enbridge owners press Michigan regulators to announce that a permit to replace Line 5 is not needed and that construction can begin. Opponents say permits are needed and the process should be delayed until COVID-19 ends to allow citizens to fully engage in the project. In addition, Enbridge submitted a different set of applications to State and Federal agencies for permits to construct the tunnel.

Great Lakes Inspire Hope

National Geographic Explorer, Amy Sacka reflects on how the Great Lakes inspire hope in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. The amazing people living in the Great Lakes region give us hope, and Freshwater Future staff will continue to take and support action to protect our waters, the life source that connects us all.


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