Washing hands requires water
Last week, Governor Gretchen Whitmer declined to declare an emergency around Detroitâ€™s water shutoffs, which affected 23,500 customers last year, citing â€œinsufficient dataâ€ proving the shutoffs posed a public health risk. Whitmerâ€™s position was backed up by the Detroit Health Department but triggered criticism from the likes of Flint water crisis heroine Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha.
One week later, Bridge Magazine draws our attention to the fact that handwashing has been recommended as the number one precaution for preventing the spread of the coronavirus. And, of course, itâ€™s hard to wash your hands if you donâ€™t have running water.
Thatâ€™s why the Peopleâ€™s Water Board renewed its call this week asking Whitmer to declare the emergency and enact a temporary moratorium, noting in a press release that â€œMichigan residents have particular reason to fear the spread of coronavirus because the ongoing deprivation of tens of thousands of people from basic access to water and sanitation puts everyone at risk.â€
Planet Detroit reached out to the Governorâ€™s office Thursday to see if their position had changed. A spokesperson told us, â€œAt this time, weâ€™re reviewingâ€.
EGLE approves FCA air quality plan
FCA development comes at a cost for neighbors https://t.co/8FCkwXF4VLâ€” FreepOpinion (@FreepOpinion) February 28, 2020
Michiganâ€™s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) have approved Fiat Chryslerâ€™s (FCA) air quality plan for its expanded facility on the eastside of Detroit, a month after denying the previous plan. The new plan includes funds for homeowners and schools to make improvements including installing air-filtration systems. A spokesperson for EGLE says that FCA has also committed to installing vegetative buffers around the plant, an air monitoring network, and a call-in number for traffic complaints.
The Detroit News reports that â€œFiat Chrysler has said the “landfill-free” facility will represent a 10% reduction in emissions in the regionâ€. But itâ€™s been pointed out that these reductions are regional, with Detroit seeing increases while pollution is reduced in Warren. An opinion piece by eastside resident Sanaa Green in The Detroit Free Press questioned the â€œrushed community benefits processâ€ that accompanied the FCA deal:
FCA is reducing emissions at its Warren facility to offset the increase at the Detroit facilities. The end result? Theyâ€™re cutting pollution in a white community â€“ so they can increase it in a black community.
Another flat tire for regional transit
Latest plan for regional transit dies in Michigan Legislature https://t.co/jxn01Tp1Slâ€” Curbed Detroit (@CurbedDetroit) March 4, 2020
Yet again, a plan for regional transit in Southeast Michigan has stalled. The plan, which would have allowed for local municipalities to partner on services and raise taxes, was expected to go before voters this year. But instead, it has been blocked in the Michigan Legislature.
House Republicans, including Speaker Lee Chatfield (R) said residents of northern Oakland County were likely to see tax increases without an increase in services.
â€œItâ€™s a complete lack of vision,â€ Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said, â€œand our region and state suffer because of it.â€ Oakland County Executive David Coulter has expressed support for regional transit, but Metro Detroit will likely have to wait another election cycle to see any progress (or not) on the issue.
Ann Arbor detects more dioxane in drinking water
Officials to discuss next steps for Ann Arbor dioxane plume tonight https://t.co/HtryIPxheDâ€” MLive (@MLive) December 12, 2019
Dioxane has been detected in Ann Arborâ€™s drinking water for the second time in the past year. The compound is a â€œlikely human carcinogenâ€ that was used by Gelman Sciences to manufacture air and water filters.
The levels detected in Ann Arborâ€™s water are ten times below the Environmental Protection Agencyâ€™s lifetime risk level. However, the spreading pollution threatens Barton Pond, Ann Arborâ€™s main drinking water source. So far, the Ann Arbor City Council has postponed voting on a federal Superfund designation for the dioxane plume that could be used to fund a cleanup.
MICHIGAN & GREAT LAKES
Lake Erie Bill of Rights fails in court
Judge Zachary Zouhary stuck down a groundbreaking law passed by Toledo residents to establish a Bill of Rights for Lake Erie. Zouhary said the law is â€œunconstitutionally vague and exceeds the power of municipal government in Ohio.â€ Stemming from the toxic algae bloom that shut down the cityâ€™s drinking water supply in 2014, the law would have allowed Toledo residents to sue on behalf of the lake when it was being polluted. The law was similar to efforts in Colombia and New Zealand to define rights for rivers and forests. Itâ€™s unclear if Toledo will appeal the decision.
Things arenâ€™t looking good for Michiganâ€™s birds
In this monthâ€™s column from #GreatLakes Now writer John Hartig, he looks at how #climatechange is impacting #birds and what that means for #humans. https://t.co/v5jjUj9N9Oâ€¦d-climate-change/ pic.twitter.com/m54Bkc31lJâ€” Great Lakes Now (@GreatLakesNow) March 2, 2020
Black terns migrate around the globe, traveling from South and Central America to our very own Great Lakes. But these peripatetic shorebirds arenâ€™t doing so well, John Hartig reports in Great Lakes Now. Their numbers in Michigan have declined by 70% since 1966, possibly on account of storms and higher water levels that have wiped out their nesting areas. Moreover, the terns are part of a long list of birdsâ€”many of whom spend time in Michiganâ€”threatened by climate change.
Join the Detroit Energy Challenge
WDETâ€™s Anna Sysling spoke this week with Joel Howrani Heeres, Director of the Office of Sustainability for the City of Detroit, about the officeâ€™s new energy challenge. The challenge, launched in partnership with Detroit 2030 District and Michigan Battle of the Buildings, will recognize buildings that reducing their energy footprint. All Detroit buildings are welcome to join the challenge (except for single-family residences).
The Detroit Energy Challenge is a new incentive to improve the energy efficiency of commercial and city structures. https://t.co/osaerssdPKâ€” WDET 101.9FM (@wdet) March 3, 2020
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