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michigan department of environmental quality

Lead service line
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Most water systems operators around the state had a hint this was coming.

The Flint water crisis has reverberated among water professionals working from Muskegon and Grand Haven all through the state and to the Detroit metro area; where the bulk of the state's drinking water lines are still buried.

Saugatuck Dunes
Norm Hoekstra / Creative Commons

Some Michigan residents are saying no to a potential development along the Kalamazoo River in Saugatuck.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality held a public meeting last night to hear from residents about a proposed development project along dunes on Lake Michigan.

Courtesy photo / 110th Attack Wing, Battle Creek Air National Guard Base

There’s a new guy running the drinking water division at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Eric Oswald served 12 years of active duty in the Air Force. He spent the last five years as a commander at the Air National Guard Base in Battle Creek.

Oswald is not a drinking water expert.

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.

water faucet
Laura Nawrocik / Flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is investigating whether a shoe manufacturer is responsible for water contamination in West Michigan.

In the 1960s, Wolverine Worldwide used a licensed dump site near Rockford to get rid of waste from its leather tanning process. Two chemicals used in the process, PFOS and PFOA, are now showing up in nearby residential wells.

map of michigan w/ inspection details
Office of the Auditor General

Michigan needs more asbestos inspectors but doesn’t have the funding to pay for them, according to the Legislature’s auditor general.

The audit released today says the asbestos program has fallen behind in inspections and follow-up reports on projects that require asbestos removal, as well as whether the cancer-causing fire retardant is properly disposed of in landfills. In some cases, the reports were cursory.

Power plant
Courtesy of Duke Energy

The state House has passed a bill (HB 4205) that would restrict the ability of state agencies to write regulations that are tougher than federal rules. Environmental groups are lining up against the bill.

Under the measure, agencies would not be able to create rules that are more stringent than federal ones - unless directed to by state law, or if the director of a state agency proves a "clear and convincing need" to exceed the federal standard.

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.

Lead service line
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Ann Arbor is approaching a milestone of sorts. The city is replacing the last of its lead connections in the water system.

Ann Arbor city officials say they never allowed full lead service lines, the water pipes buried underground that connect homes to the water main.

Where are lead water pipes in Michigan? Here’s our best guess

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. 

Michigan Radio mapped 49 bottled water facilities in Michigan. An interactive version is below.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Tomorrow evening at 7pm, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is holding a public hearing on a request from Nestle Waters. 

School bus
Bill McChesney / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Volkswagen emissions scandal settlement from earlier this year could mean new school buses for thousands of Michigan students.

School officials in the state have put together a proposal asking for almost $30 million to be used to replace aging diesel busses. They say there are more than 5,000 diesel buses in Michigan that are more than 10 years old that should be replaced with vehicles with cleaner-running diesel engines or powered by natural gas.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

A group of doctors, regulators and outside experts is meeting behind closed doors in Chicago Tuesday to determine if Flint’s water technically meets federal standards again. The meeting at EPA’s regional headquarters could be the start of a shift; from a public health emergency to a longer term response.

Water samples have improved for several months. But there are still some homes with spikes in lead levels that are potentially dangerous without a water filter.

Some experts now believe any homes with a lead water service line are at risk.

graph
MDEQ

New tests show lead levels in Flints water are back within federal standards.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says the new data shows more than 96% of the samples are at or below the 15 parts per billion (ppb) federal lead action level. It’s the sixth round of sentinel testing that has produced results within the federal lead action level.

The MDEQ’s results come after new independent testing by researchers from Virginia Tech University, which also showed improvement in Flint’s lead tainted tap water.

user: Soil Science / Flickr

State officials are accepting more feedback on proposed new statewide standards for more than 300 environmental contaminants, including dioxane. 

The last public comment period ended in mid-September.  

This week the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality released revised proposed rules with a new comment deadline of October 18, and an additional public hearing scheduled for October 17 in Lansing. 

Rex Babiera / Flicker https://flic.kr/p/8HGMDv

In Flint, we know lead has leached from water pipes, called service lines. But it’s not as clear how much the plumbing in people’s homes is contributing to the problem.

“There were no lead service lines to any of the schools and yet there was a significant amount of lead in a number of the samples,” said George Krisztian, who’s coordinating the state’s response in Flint for Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality.

“So the question was, 'OK, where is the lead coming from?” Krisztian recalls.

Flickr user David Salafia/Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The state is advising schools to test their water for lead, even though it’s not required. Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality wants schools to take action, even if lead levels are below the federal standard.

The federal action limit for lead in water is 15 parts per billion. Governor Rick Snyder would like to see Michigan have an even stricter standard; 10 ppb.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There was a probable cause hearing today for the eight defendants charged by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette in the Flint water disaster. What does that mean, and how does today's hearing fit into the legal process?

Wayne State University law professor Peter Henning joined Stateside to provide some answers.

For starters, what is a probable cause conference?

Gov. Snyder office

This week…a state senate committee holds a hearing on Governor Snyder’s pick to head the Department of Environmental Quality.  

Heidi Grether is a former oil and gas industry lobbyist.  That doesn’t sit well with Mike Berkowitz. He’s the Sierra Club’s legislative and political director.

There’s a new chief for the embattled state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) but the effort to restore confidence to the agency that was a huge part of the Flint water crisis is off to a rocky start.

Virginia Tech

The head of Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality says the agency will be taking a much closer look at how cities across the state are testing for lead in water this summer.

MDEQ interim Director Keith Creagh says his agency will ask the state’s 1,400 water systems tough questions about how and where they’re testing for lead.

Creagh says DEQ will ask cities to prove they’re testing for lead at the right homes, particularly those with lead service lines.

(l to r) Joel Beauvais, Office of Water, EPA - Keith Creagh, Director, MDEQ - Marc Edwards, Virginia Tech - Lee Anne Walters, former Flint Resident
screen grab YouTube

The head of Michigan’s environmental regulatory agency says he won’t take any more administrative action against state employees involved in the Flint water crisis until the criminal cases against them are resolved.

In January, interim director of Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality Keith Creagh asked Michigan State Police to investigate employees in his department.

The report was finished in March, but it hasn’t been released to the public yet. A request for the report under the Freedom of Information Act is pending.

picture of DTE Trenton Channel power plant
Courtesy of DTE Energy

Michigan’s US Senators want the Environmental Protection Agency to step in if the state doesn’t act on a plan to curb Wayne County air pollution soon.

In a letter to EPA head Gina McCarthy Friday, Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters urged “swift completion” of that plan.

In 2013, part the county was found to be in “non-attainment” with new National Ambient Air Quality Standards for sulfur dioxide emissions.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality was supposed to submit a plan to fix that to the EPA in April 2015. But to date, MDEQ still hasn’t done that.

Andrew Steiner / Feeding America West Michigan

Michigan is boosting efforts to provide healthy food to Flint residents amid the city's crisis with lead-tainted water.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced Thursday it's awarding $100,000 to Feeding America West Michigan.

Feeding America West Michigan’s Andrew Steiner says they knew there was a food processor north of Grand Rapids willing to donate frozen produce; squash, blueberries, cherries, asparagus and more.

“The amount of food that Arbre Farms was able to donate was actually more than we were able to handle,” Steiner said.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Because of the Flint water crisis, the U.S. EPA wants more transparency about where the nation’s lead lines are. Specifically, the EPA wants to know how many lead service lines there still are underground, and they want to know exactly where they are. As we reported Tuesday, many Michigan cities do not know this basic information, it’s not just Flint.

The EPA also wants water systems to post the results from water tests to prove cities are in compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule.

This week, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality gave the feds an update on these requests.

A worker holds a lead service line removed from a home in Flint.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The state is now recommending that cities avoid replacing only part of a water service line if it's made of lead. Partial replacements aren’t uncommon.

Typically the municipality only owns part of the line, the part from the water main to the property line. This is the publicly owned portion of the service line. In this case, the part of the line that runs from the public right of way into a home is the privately owned portion of the line.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency outlined a number of concerns in a letter to Flint and Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality.

Two of these lingering issues were deemed “critical” or “significant.” 

Those have to do with the city’s comprehensive plan to prevent lead from leaching into drinking water and “inadequate number of qualified personnel” at the city’s water department.

A worker holds a lead service line removed from a home in Flint.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan is asking all water systems to come up with plans to find and replace lead pipes in their communities, even the portions of water service lines that are on private property, which are traditionally the responsibility of the homeowner.

Watch the Flint task force reveal its final report

Mar 23, 2016
Flint Task Force member Chris Kolb at the podium during the press conference. Kolb is the president of the Michigan Environmental Council.
Livestream screen grab

The Flint Water Advisory Task Force released its final report on the Flint water crisis this morning at 10:30 a.m.

Gov. Rick Snyder formed a workgroup that made 69 recommendations on how the state of Michigan should manage and improve its mental health care system. The question is, how many of those recommendations will be turned into actual policies?
gophouse.com

Gov. Rick Snyder joined Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy today to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in Washington today. This was the third Flint water hearing by this House panel.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes tells us that of all the people the panel has questioned, Snyder has come the closest to admitting and accepting his mistakes.

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