In this month’s News to Us, Ypsilanti takes action to engage residents in development decisions; groundwater is the sixth Great Lake; and Mercury, PFAS and Climate Change each pose unique challenges to our region and freshwater resources.

PFAS and the Huron River Community Meeting
Residents concerned about PFAS in the Huron River meet in Milford in October to learn from HRWC, local, county and state representatives.

Ypsi adopts community benefits ordinance, bolstering residents’ role in development process
Ypsilanti adopted a nationally innovative ordinance to give residents a voice in development projects on city-owned property. When the developer is requesting city support, it allows the city to request actions that have community benefits (economic, sustainability, etc). The goal is to create a win-win situation for the developer and the community by engaging residents in the process early and in a meaningful way.

Despite its abundance, is groundwater a second-class citizen?
Michigan has groundwater resources that are similar in volume to Lake Huron. Sometimes referred to as the sixth Great Lake, our state still has much to do protect these sources of drinking water for millions of residents. The lack of a state-wide law governing septic systems and over 3000 groundwater sites that have already been identified as unusable due to contamination, are just two of the threats.

Trump Administration Prepares a Major Weakening of Mercury Emissions Rules
At a time when we are learning of additional contaminants making our fish unsafe to eat, there are efforts at the federal level to undermine mercury emissions rules. Mercury is the source of some of the earliest and longest-standing fish consumption advisories in the Great Lakes region. There are significant health impacts especially for children and women in their child bearing years. The beneficiary of the roll backs is primarily the coal industry. The rollbacks would remove the regulatory need to invest in achieving lower mercury emission levels.

New Report Demonstrates How Coal-Fired Power Plants Threaten Water Quality
This press release gives some context to the article above about the implications of rolling back federal mercury emissions rules and the coal industry. It announces a new report that chronicles the pollution impacts to Michigan water when coal is used to generate electricity. Michigan has a large number of plants and waste sites where toxic byproducts from coal are disposed. Add lead, arsenic and other heavy metals to the list of contaminants making their way into our water from coal-fired power plants.

Michigan officials urge federal action on ‘forever chemicals’
EPA representatives visited several key sites in our state with severe PFAS contamination in surface and groundwater. Michigan legislators and regulators are pushing EPA to develop one national standard for PFAS and to double down on research to better understand the problem, risks and solutions. A round table discussion was held in Kalamazoo, although members of the public were not able to provide verbal comment. For HRWC’s most recent updates on PFAS and the Huron River visit our webpage.

Where should you move to save yourself from climate change?
The Great Lakes region again, is graced with the dubious honor of being named a climate change refuge – a place on the map more likely to remain comfortable, longer. While this may seem like good news to Michiganders, it poses its own set of challenges.