Tribe seeks to set its own water standards

The U.P.’s Keweenaw Bay Indian Community has applied to the Environmental Protection Agency for authority to regulate water quality on tribal land. I

t would be the first Michigan tribe to gain such responsibility, although 60 tribes elsewhere already have it.

A Senate committee has passed a resolution, sponsored by senators from Vulcan and Ludington, opposing the application. We hear from the tribe’s water resources expert and council president and a law professor who belongs to the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

Indigenous group concludes 310-mile walk to Capitol for safe water

Native water protectors walked 310 miles from the Mackinac Bridge to the State Capitol to protest Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac. The group concluded its walk on March 30. People of Three Fires, the Anishinaabe alliance of Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi indigenous tribes, gathered at Adado Riverfront Park on Saturday afternoon. They marched to the Capitol yelling, “Shut Down Line 5” and “Water is Life.”

“Water is a precious thing for life,” said Dennis Durfee of Lansing. “Every part of Earth is dependant on that water for its survival.

Michigan groundwater threatened by silent crisis

Capital News Service

LANSING — A “silent crisis” is brewing beneath Michigan that threatens what experts say could be considered the sixth Great Lake. It’s hard to imagine a state that enjoys 3,288 miles of freshwater coastline, 242 streams and 11,000 lakes and ponds could be in danger of droughts like those in the western United States. But if groundwater management trends continue, that’s precisely what’s on the horizon for Michigan, according to Liz Kirkwood, the executive director of the water advocacy organization FLOW: For Love of Water based in Traverse City. Among the threats that worry Kirkwood are deep-well injections that store hazardous chemicals underground. “Even though those injected wells are confined, there’s room for error and contamination,” Kirkwood said.

Andy Schor

Lansing budget would power all city buildings with 100% renewable energy by July

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor proposed a plan March 25 to use 100 percent renewable energy for all city government buildings. This would make Lansing the first city in Michigan to do so. Part of his budget proposal included a plan to buy renewable energy credits from the Lansing Board of Water and Light. “We decided that the city of Lansing should be a leader and should purchase renewable power,” said Schor. “We looked at our budget, and we made this a priority.”

Councilmember Peter Spadafore commended Schor.

Fire chiefs seek rules for disposal of risky firefighting foam

Capital News Service

LANSING — Fifteen years ago, “way before anyone knew” about the dangers of the PFAS chemicals within, the Walker Fire Department purchased a stash of firefighting foam from the Gerald R. Ford Airport in Grand Rapids to be used during training. Now, roughly 100 gallons of foam purchased from the airport — stored in plastic in an unused building — have nowhere to go, said Walker Fire Chief Bob Walker. That makes it crucial that a bill package to limit the use of PFAS-containing firefighting foams sets up a clear disposal mechanism for the materials, some fire chiefs say. PFAS chemicals are linked to cancer, immune system dysfunction and issues with child development, according to the National Institutes of Health. They were included in firefighting foams used on fuel or petroleum fires, said Pat Parker, the fire chief of the Grand Traverse Metro Emergency Services Authority.

Dogged pursuit: Study says gull-chasers keep beaches clean

Capital News Service

LANSING — Using dogs to chase gulls from Great Lakes beaches can improve water quality, according to a recent study. A Central Michigan University (CMU) study used dogs to reduce bird feces on beaches. The waste of gulls introduces high levels of E.coli bacteria into sand and beach water, according to a recent research article in the Oxford University Press. E.coli can contain pathogens such as avian influenza and salmonella, microbiologist Elizabeth Alm and mammalogist Thomas Gehring said in the study. The dogs’ harassment reduced the number of gulls by 56 to 76 percent.

New study IDs climate change impacts

Capital News Service

LANSING — Crop-killing temperature swings, invasive species, harsh rains and water with poorly mixed nutrients are among the global warming threats to Michigan, scientists say. The climates of Detroit, Flint, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Saginaw, Traverse City and Montreal in 60 years could be similar to the current climate of Chester, Pennsylvania, according to a recent study by Matt Fitzpatrick of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and Robert Dunn of North Carolina State University.  

Montreal could be as much as 17 degrees warmer during the winter; Toronto could feel more like New Jersey. While some of the predicted temperature increases could be on the high side, it’s not absolutely impossible to reach them, said Brent Lofgren, a physical scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor. “Most predictions are between 3 and 4 degrees Fahrenheit, as a global average,” he said.