This issue of News to Us shares two articles that chronicle the implications of undermining the Clean Water Act. Loosening of state level protections for a clean environment have also led to unexpected impacts from contaminated sites. Nexus pipeline construction has made it to Washtenaw County and is heading soon to the Huron River in Ypsilanti Township. Finally, recent research attributes future heat waves in the Great Lakes region to climate change.

rover pipeline
Rover Pipeline in Livingston County. Photo by Rebecca Foster

Two-in-five large Michigan industrial plants exceeded water pollution limits  Industrial sites throughout Michigan are regularly failing to meet standards set for pollutant levels in water discharge, a new report finds. This represents a huge failure to enforce the Clean Water Act that regulates pollution discharges to lakes and rivers. One of two industries identified as most frequently and egregiously out of compliance is the Great Lakes Aggregates in Monroe County which discharges to the Huron River. With fines too low to deter polluters and EPA Administrator Pruitt attempting to further weaken the Clean Water Act, this problem is only likely to get worse.

Leaked memo: Pruitt taking control of Clean Water Act determinations A leaked internal memo reveals EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued a directive calling for regional offices to “cede Clean Water Act determinations” to him taking key CWA decisions out of the hands of EPA regional experts and into his where decisions about the significance of negative impacts to waterways or wetlands will be made.

In 1994, Michigan OK’d partial pollution cleanups. Now we have 2,000 contaminated sites. With growing reports of alarming levels of contaminants in our groundwater throughout the state, journalists are digging into the question of ‘how did this happen’? This recent NPR piece explores the connection between a 1994 amendment to the National Resources Protection Act that allowed for partial, rather than full cleanup of contaminated sites and instead, would issue land use restrictions such as bans on drinking water wells in the area.

Nexus pipeline construction slashes its way through Washtenaw County  The Nexus pipeline construction is making its way toward the Huron River. Construction will begin soon in North Hydro Park to install the natural gas pipeline heading toward Canada. The pipe will run underneath the Huron River.

Study: Climate change soon to be main cause of heat waves in West, Great Lakes  Most often, in the Great Lakes we hear about the increased flood risk and larger rain events occurring as the global climate changes. New research estimates climate change will overtake natural variability as the primary cause of heat waves in the region by the mid-2030s.  High heat is currently the leading weather-related cause of death in the U.S.