This month, News to Us provides the latest on several major water crises in Michigan including lead in Flint, PFAS throughout the state, and PAHs from common pavement sealants. Learn more about the federal administrations proposed rollbacks to the Clean Water Act and what the recent legislative lame duck session signify for the environment.

EPA’s Own Data Refutes Justification for Clean Water Act Rollback
This piece discusses the implications of the Trump administrations roll backs on the Clean Water Act, which redefines “Waters of the US” protected under the CWA. The new proposed definition would leave many ephemeral and intermittent streams unprotected with no recourse for polluters. This is no small portion of all streams in this country where 18 percent of streams nationwide are ephemeral and 52 percent are intermittent.

Michigan State Capitol Building
Michigan State Capitol Building in Lansing

Snyder signs dozens of lame duck bills, including $1.2B in spending In case you missed it, the lame duck legislative session was very active. Bills signed by Snyder as his term came to an end were definitely a mixed bag with some good news and some really bad news. For example, on one hand, Snyder signed a spending bill that included significant funding for environmental clean ups and work related to PFAS chemicals. On the other hand, Snyder signed legislation commonly referred to as “no stricter than federal” making it very difficult to implement state regulations that are more strict that regulations at the federal level.  For PFAS, currently no federal regulations exist. Some more detail available here.

Public Education Continues With South Lyon PFAS Presentation
HRWC has been holding events throughout the watershed to inform people about PFAS and the Huron. Laura Rubin was in South Lyon this month to reach residents and municipal staff with the latest on this emerging and rapidly changing issue.

Flint water investigator calls for independent oversight of Michigan DEQ
Environmental law expert, Noah Hall reflects back on the 4 years since Flint switched drinking water sources leading to extensive lead exposure among residents. Hall served as Special Assistant Attorney General for three years of the investigation. Hear his account of where the state went wrong and what we need to do now to avoid future environmental injustices.

White Bear Lake, other cities sue makers of banned driveway sealant, alleging $1 billion pond problem In a state where coal tar based pavement sealants have been banned since 2014, municipalities are now suing the suppliers of toxic coal tar used in sealant products.  The suit is seeking compensation for over $1 billion dollars estimated to properly dispose of sediments in area stormwater systems heavily contaminated with PAHs, which have known human and ecological health impacts. Coal tar based sealants are used throughout Michigan and research has found contaminated sediments throughout our state. Many Huron River communities have taken action to ban toxic sealant products.