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MDEQ

Red Lion restaurant sign in Grand Rapids
Rolin Stone Timmerman - Flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

A $330,000 state grant will help redevelop a contaminated site in Grand Rapids.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality approved the grant for the brownfield site earlier this week.

Kara Wood, who oversees the city’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, says the grant moves the project forward.

“So this approval helps them cross that starting line to get started on those environmental activities in order to demolish the building and construct the project that they intend to build,” Wood said.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

There’s an escalating dispute between Flint and state officials over issues with the city’s water system.

The dispute dates back to August 2017, when the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality informed the city of more than a dozen problems with Flint’s water system.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Despite overwhelming disapproval by the public, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality approved a permit allowing Nestlé to increase the amount of water it pumps out of a well in Osceola Township.

Nestlé bottles that water for its Ice Mountain brand.

Now, the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation is contesting that permit.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

It’s back to court Monday for four defendants in the Flint water crisis investigation.

At the time of Flint’s ill-fated drinking water switch, district supervisor Stephen Busch, Community Drinking Water Unit specialist Patrick Cook, district engineer Michael Prysby, and chief of the office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance Liane Shekter Smith were responsible for overseeing Flint’s water system for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.  

They are now facing a variety of charges related to the city’s water crisis.

Water faucet
user william_warby / Flickr http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

A recent report and interactive map shows that Michigan is the nationwide leader for known PFAS contamination sites.

Michigan leads the country with 28 known contamination sites in at least 15 communities.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Four current and former Michigan Department of Environmental Quality employees criminally charged in the Flint water crisis are scheduled to return to court Monday.

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

Earlier this month, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality approved a permit that allows the Nestle Corporation to pump up to 400 gallons of groundwater per minute to feed its bottled water operations in Osceola County.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Last week, Michigan Radio published a story about the Village of Beverly Hills, Michigan; a Detroit suburb located in southern Oakland County. The village currently has the highest 90th percentile for lead in water in the state.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality approved a permit for Nestlé to increase pumping out water from 250 gallons a minute to 400 gallons at a facility in Osceola County. That approval came after overwhelming disapproval from citizens. The DEQ says it must follow the law when making permit decisions, which would seem to get rid of necessity of taking public comment.

Vicki Barnett, former Mayor of Farmington Hills and a former Democratic legislator, and Ken Sikkema, Senior Policy Fellow with Public Sector Consultants and the former Republican majority leader in state senate, joined Stateside to discuss how effective and desirable the DEQ and public comments are, how the legislature should treat water resources, and how the decision will affect the state’s farmers.

Wikimedia Commons

Now that the state has approved a permit for Nestle to remove more water from its Osceola County well, opposition is growing.

Among the critics: Macomb County Public Works Commissioner and former Republican congresswoman Candice Miller.

Two women
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Jennifer Gilchrist moved from New York City back home to the Detroit suburb of Beverly Hills in 2016. She moved to help take care of her mom Joellen, a retired Detroit high school teacher, and to fix up her childhood home.

That’s when a plumber told them they had a lead service line.

Part of the new line 6B pipeline in central Michigan.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

State officials have given Enbridge Energy permission to install 22 more anchor supports along twin pipelines at the bottom of the waterway linking Lakes Michigan and Huron.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issued a permit last week allowing the supports for Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac. Installing the additional anchor supports will minimize the span distance within the Straits of Mackinac.

According to the DEQ press release, each of the 22 anchors will be installed using 10-inch diameter screws with a total lake bottom impact of nine cubic yards.

Department of Environmental Quality / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

A state website reports there are 28 sites in 15 communities with known PFAS contaminated levels in the water. 

PFAS is an acronym for a group of widely used industrial chemicals known as per-and-polyfluoroalkyl substances. The department has been accused of being too slow in clean up and too cozy with polluters.

Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

A group of lawmakers wants more federal money to address drinking water contamination around the state.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee and U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters included money for PFAS contamination in their latest budget bill.

The family of toxic chemicals, known as PFAS, have been linked to certain forms of cancer as well as other health issues.

Running faucet
Melissa Benmark / Michigan Radio

Two townships have joined the state’s lawsuit against a west Michigan shoe manufacturer.

Plainfield and Algoma townships are both being affected by ongoing groundwater contamination caused by chemicals Wolverine Worldwide once used at its tannery in Rockford.

Cameron Van Wyngarden, the Plainfield Township manager, says joining the lawsuit wasn’t his first choice.

John Westrock / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

 


 

New information has come to light about the way the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality handled an important warning on possible toxic chemical contamination of groundwater in Belmont, in west Michigan. 

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.

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