Dear friend of FLOW,

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement–a deep and lasting commitment between the two nations to restore and protect the greatest collection of fresh surface water on the planet. 

A key institution in the execution of the Agreement is the Great Lakes Water Quality Board, which advises the International Joint Commission.

I am honored to serve as a U.S. appointee to the 28-member binational board. On this important anniversary, I am reflecting on the Board’s role under the Agreement in protecting the lakes. 

Public policy rooted in scientific understanding and informed by the social and cultural context matters tremendously. It translates our values into meaningful and long-term action to change our relationship with each other and the lakes.

Has the Agreement worked? The answer: yes and no, as our companion piece describes. Yes, the Great Lakes are better off than they would be without the Agreement. But the Agreement’s 1972 goals are unfulfilled.

The biggest threat to the Great Lakes is undoubtedly climate change. It will alter the waters of the Great Lakes Basin in many ways, only some of them not foreseeable. Warming groundwater, changes in the aquatic food web, and increasing algae blooms are among the expected impacts.

Today, we still are closer to the beginning than the end of Great Lakes restoration, the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement notwithstanding.

In solidarity,

Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director

ATTEND OUR EVENTS: April 22, 5:30-7:30 pm–Earth Day Beach Clean Up in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Join FLOW–in partnership with Sleeping Bear Surf & Kayak, the Surfrider Foundation Northern Michigan Chapter, Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes, Beth Price Photography, with support from Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate and S’well–for an Earth Day evening of action at North Bar Lake in the heart of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (park pass required). North Bar Lake is home to a beautiful, fragile ecosystem–inhabited by various fish species, birds, turtles, and mammals. Plastic pollution is a threat to that vital ecosystem. Join us at 5:30 p.m. to hear from a biologist with the National Lakeshore about the importance of the ecosystem within North Bar Lake, and stick around to pay tribute by doing a deep clean! Please click here to learn more about this Earth Day Beach Cleanup. Visit our website to learn about FLOW’s other events planned for before, during, and after Earth Day. Above image by Beth Price Photography.
JOIN OUR TEAM: FLOW Seeks Operations Manager in Traverse City
FLOW is seeking an Operations Manager to coordinate administrative responsibilities, including management of our office, email and cloud-based tools (Google Suite), and finances (QuickBooks Online for Nonprofits) and support for our CRM database (Salesforce), and our staff, board, and committees. This position is based at FLOW’s downtown office in Traverse City, MI, and will require occasional travel in the Great Lakes region, as well as occasional nights and weekends for events and gatherings. To apply, please email a résumé and cover letter to
IT'S A FACT: "Some 45 percent of Michigan’s population gets drinking water from underground, but because it is out of sight it is often out of mind. Its invisible nature has made groundwater vulnerable to neglect and mismanagement. Michigan is pocked with more than 14,000 groundwater contamination sites, including one of the nation’s largest, a 13 trillion-gallon plume contaminated by the toxic chemical TCE (trichloroethylene). Due to funding limitations, the state is addressing only two percent of these polluted sites this year."
   —Excerpt from Dave Dempsey's op-ed, "Our Drinking Water Lacks the Protection it Deserves," published April 2 in the Lansing State Journal.

QUOTABLE: “This legislation is a major step forward in protecting Michigan’s drinking water and our lakes and streams, but it is not perfect,” said FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood, referencing the $4.7 billion bill that Gov. Whitmer on March 30 signed into law, which includes almost $2 billion for water infrastructure. “Big as this bill is, it represents a much needed down payment. The estimated gap between our water infrastructure needs and what we’ve been spending is almost $1 billion–per year. We also need to develop policies and funding mechanisms that make public water affordable for all, while preventing shutoffs.”

TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to Ban Water Futures Trading
No one should be allowed to gamble with clean, safe water, but that’s exactly what financial speculators are trying to do by trading water futures. Our allies at Food & Water Watch have created a tool you can use to tell your members of Congress to co-sponsor the Future of Water Act (HR 7182, S 3886), which would ban financial speculators from engaging in water futures trading.
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