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Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

The Department of Environmental Quality will begin testing 1,300 public water supplies across the state for emerging contaminants known as PFAS.

The family of chemicals, which includes PFOA and PFOS, have been found at high levels in private drinking wells and some bodies of water around the state -- most notably at the Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda and in northern Kent County. 

Susan Leeming, deputy director for the Office of External Relations with the DEQ, says the state will be selective in its testing.

AgriLife Today / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The Michigan Farm Bureau is backing new rules for withdrawing water and House Republicans are obliging them so far.

Vicki Barnett, the former mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic legislator, and Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants and a former Republican legislative leader, joined Stateside to discuss this week’s political news.

They discussed whether the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) uses the most current science and methods to evaluate the quality of water withdrawal for irrigation, how to balance interests between farmers and environmentalists, and the risks of overusing our water resources.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality should update its rules on the level of lead that’s considered acceptable in drinking water.

That is the one thing most everyone at a public hearing in Lansing Thursday night did agree on.

But many Flint activists and environmentalists say the proposed changes to lead rules don’t go far enough. Others, especially those running community water systems, say changes go way too far, presenting major legal and cost issues.

GABRIELLE EMANUEL / Michigan Radio

New tests show lead is still a concern in the water in Flint schools.

Two-thirds of the more than 700 recent water samples taken at Flint’s 13 school buildings came back with no detectable levels of lead. But about 3% of the samples tested at or above the federal action level of 15 parts per billion. The highest spikes were recorded at Doyle Ryder Elementary.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Work begins this week on the demolition of a nearly century-old dam in Flint.

The Flint River has flowed through the Hamilton Dam since it was constructed in 1920.

But the dam has been crumbling for decades.

Last year, the state government approved spending $3.1 million to demolish the dam, as part of a project to revitalize Flint’s riverfront.

Michigan Office of the Great Lakes

Autonomous vehicles are making their way towards the highways and streets of America, and between the automakers and the American Center for Mobility at Willow Run, Michigan is playing a big role in developing the technology for autonomous vehicles.

Since Michigan is surrounded by the Great Lakes, what about autonomous vessels on the lakes?

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

One of the Flint residents to first sound the alarm about the city’s water problems testified today that state environmental officials refused to listen.

Lee Anne Walters testified against Department of Environmental Quality officials charged with various crimes related to the Flint water crisis.  

Bilal Tawwab, Dr. Lawrence Reynolds, and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The head of Flint's public schools says he wants the state to agree to a comprehensive plan to monitor water in district schools.

Flint school buildings had some of the highest lead levels in their tap water when the city’s water crisis began, but little testing has taken place since.

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent.
Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

The state is getting public feedback on the future of Enbridge’s Line 5.

State environmental officials held the first of three public meetings on the subject in the Detroit suburb of Taylor Wednesday night.

The state released an alternatives analysis for the pipeline that runs through the Straits of Mackinac earlier this year. It’s also commissioning a risk analysis.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality is vowing to strengthen lead-in-water rules because of the Flint water crisis. At a public meeting in Lansing Wednesday night, state regulators said they cannot wait on the federal government to finish its own version of the new rules.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality is unveiling changes to lead in water rules this week.

Communities in Michigan with lead water pipes will have special interest in a public meeting Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality is hosting Wednesday night.

There are lead service lines in older communities across Michigan. Because of their age and population size, it’s fair to say the bulk of Michigan’s lead service lines are in cities in Southeast Michigan.

I spent a lot of time trying to determine which Detroit suburbs have lead service lines and how many. I wanted to see how far out into the suburbs lead was found in underground water pipes.

It was relatively easy (albeit an expensive FOIA bill near $2000 for these "public documents") to track down which communities were testing lead lines. But figuring out how many lead pipes were in each community is nearly impossible.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A major obstacle to Flint’s recovery from its drinking water crisis has been removed.

The city of Flint has been hobbled in its efforts to remain on its aging water system by its inability to repay more than $20 million borrowed from the Drinking Water Revolving Fund (DWRF).  

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Testifying in court today, the daughter of a man who died of Legionnaires' disease in 2015 testified she was not made aware of a deadly outbreak that was underway in Genesee County at the time.

Mary Anne Tribble says her elderly father led an active life, despite some health issues. But his health deteriorated quickly in June of 2015, following a trip to Flint’s McLaren Hospital. Tribble says she and other family members were with him when he died.

“That’s when we found out he had Legionella,” Tribble told the judge.

Water faucent in Flint.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s drinking water regulators need more resources to do their jobs correctly. That’s one of the major takeaways of a detailed federal audit released Thursday afternoon.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched the audit almost two years ago, right after the state at least started to acknowledge that there was a serious problem with Flint’s drinking water.

Map from the MDEQ of affected area
MDEQ

More people in West Michigan might be getting their drinking water tested for chemical contamination.

The state has added 300 homes to its investigation, about 10 miles north of Grand Rapids.

Wolverine tannery neighbors threaten suit to force cleanup

Oct 15, 2017
Map from the MDEQ of affected area
MDEQ

Residents who live near an old leather tannery waste dump in western Michigan are threatening to sue Wolverine World Wide to force it to clean up the site.

Attorneys for 40 residents near the long-forgotten dump sent Wolverine a notice of intent to sue on Friday.

They want the Rockford-based global footwear company to remove contaminated soil from the 76-acre property, rebury it in a pit lined with a hazardous waste liner and then encircle the property with a slurry wall to contain polluted water.

Map from the MDEQ of affected area
MDEQ

The shoe manufacturing company believed to have contaminated groundwater in two West Michigan communities still doesn't know exactly how it happened.

Chris Hufnagel is with Wolverine World Wide, the shoe company believed to be the source of the toxic chemicals.

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent.
Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

The state is ordering Enbridge Energy to take swift action to fix portions of the Line 5 energy pipeline that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

Enbridge reported to the state that small portions of enamel coating were accidentally removed in two places. The coating protects the oil and gas line that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac from corrosion.

Melody Kindraka of the state Department of Environmental Quality says there’s no immediate threat to the Great Lakes, but it’s concerning that the problem was the result of human error.

D. Weckerle

Some of the most toxic chemicals used in industry are treated and temporarily held at the US Ecology plant on the Hamtramck-Detroit border, and plans to expand it tenfold have raised fears for neighbors and environmentalists.

JORDANMRCAI / CREATIVE COMMONS

The political and legal drama continues to swirl around the beleaguered people of Flint.

The latest twist?

The state is suing the city of Flint for not approving a plan to get its drinking water from Detroit’s Great Lakes Water Authority.

Satellite photo of the St. Clair River, Lake Saint Clair, and Detroit River
Wikimedia Commons

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is recommending that loss of fish and wildlife habitat be removed from the list of environmental impairments on the U.S. side of the St. Clair River.

The Removal Recommendation Report is available for public comment until June 14, 2017.

A packed public comments hearing on the recent Nestle permit.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

About 500 people showed up to a public hearing in Big Rapids hosted by Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality last night. Almost every one of them spoke against Nestle’s plan to pump 400 gallons of water a minute to sell under the company’s Ice Mountain bottled water brand. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

People walking near part of the Flint River will see, and likely smell, a major dredging project this summer.

About a quarter mile segment of the Flint River will be dredged to remove tons of soil contaminated with coal tar from a gas plant that closed a century ago.    The plant operated from the mid-1800’s to the late 1920’s. Consumers Energy bought the old coal plant back in the 1920’s.   

Jim Innes with the MDEQ is the project manager.    He says coal tar does present a potential health issue for people.

Photo courtesy of Birmingham Public Schools

The state has proposed an agreement to fix some ongoing problems at Detroit’s wastewater treatment plant.

The consent order from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality cites the Great Lakes Water Authority, which runs the plant, for a number of environmental violations over the past year.

The plant was supposed to stop operating five outdated sewage sludge incinerators in March, 2016. But the GLWA kept using them after a fire seriously damaged new, cleaner replacement equipment that same month.

chumlee10 / Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A large Toronto-based mining company has started expanding one of its projects near Marquette. But it will need approval from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality if it wants to finish the tunnel it started building in July. 

Lundin Mining is asking the state agency to change its current permit to allow for the completion of the tunnel, which would connect its Eagle Mine site to a mineral deposit nearby. The deposit has large amounts of nickel and copper ore, but Lundin is still unsure whether the area would be profitable to mine.

The Detroit incinerator
tEdGuY49 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Detroit’s incinerator is in hot water with state regulators again, but many people think the proposed punishment lets it off the hook too easily.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality cited the state’s largest incinerator for a number of violations in 2015 and 2016. The “waste-to-energy” facility provides power to sections of the city’s core.

Those violations included violating emissions limits for sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, and particulate matter. The agency says the incinerator also failed to monitor emissions properly.

USEPA Environmental-Protection-Agency Follow

A listener recently asked Stateside the following question:

"What does the Environmental Protection Agency do in Michigan?"

This map shows land ownership and location of the exploratory copper drilling project.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has given the green light to an exploratory copper drilling project in the Upper Peninsula.

The use permit allows Orvana Resources U.S. Corp., a subsidiary of Highland Copper, to drill in a one square mile area located on the western edge of  Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. 

According to John Pepin, a DNR spokesman, the company is taking steps to reduce the impact of the exploratory drilling on the land surface of the park. 

The Swiss corporation, Nestle, wants to increase how much water it takes from a well in Evart, Michigan.
cmh2315fl / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Swiss corporation Nestle wants to increase how much water it takes from a well in Evart, Michigan.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality used a computer modeling program called the Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool to assess the potential effect of an increase.

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