Dear friend of FLOW,

“If we look at the water cycle as a single hydrologic system, which it is, the Great Lakes are an arc of the whole water cycle. We live in a hydrosphere. What happens to one arc of the cycle affects the water levels in the other arcs.”

That wisdom from Jim Olson propelled him to found FLOW a decade ago, and carries us forward today. Keeping water public and protected is at the center of all the work we do. In carrying out our mission, we uphold the public’s rights and the rule of law, while holding government accountable.

Consider the new federal infrastructure law that contains $1.3 billion for Michigan’s water needs. Will the state spend that money wisely, ending the threat of lead in drinking water and upgrading aging water and sewer systems that risk public health and the environment?

The nearly 10,000 residents of the City of Benton Harbor have been drinking water contaminated with unsafe levels of lead for at least three years, yet state and local governments only recently took decisive action to protect them. Why did it take pressure by residents and citizen groups to make that happen?

A private company wants to withdraw the public’s groundwater at a rate of up to 4 million gallons a day—well over a billion gallons a year—to support a fish farm proposed near the Muskegon River. Is this wise or sustainable?

And of course, the long-running battles continue over the risky, aging Line 5 oil pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac and the groundwater withdrawals by water bottler Blue Triton (formerly Nestlé).

FLOW is working on all these issues and more, and with your help we will continue to partner with Michigan’s inland and coastal communities and water systems to make them more resilient and protect our precious lakes, wetlands, groundwater, and drinking water for generations to come. 

Please support FLOW during this charitable season. There’s never been a more important time to keep up our progress on ensuring the Great Lakes are healthy, public, and protected for all. Click here or on the donate button below to make an online gift now. Learn more about how you can support FLOW with a gift of securities or distribution from your IRA.

In solidarity,


Liz Kirkwood, FLOW Executive Director 

P.S. It’s easy to support FLOW this Saturday, November 13, if you happen to be in downtown Traverse City on Shop Your Community Day. For every purchase you make at any of 60 participating stores, 15% of the sale will be donated to the organization of your choice.

FLOW Spotlight:
For Love Of Water: New Officers Elected to FLOW Board of Directors

As we celebrate our 10th anniversary throughout 2021, we at FLOW are pleased to announce the election of new officers on our Board of Directors. Renee Huckle Mittelstaedt, former president and CEO of Huckle Media, LLC/Huckle Holdings Inc., has been elected FLOW’s new Board Chair. She joined FLOW’s board in 2015 and previously served as treasurer. Organizational consultant Sarah Naperala is FLOW’s new Vice Chair. Former Board Chair Mike Vickery, an Emeritus professor of Communication, Public Affairs, and Environmental Studies at Alma College, is now Board Treasurer. Lisa Wyatt Knowlton, an executive advisor and learning leader in leadership, management, and policy, is FLOW’s new Board Secretary. Read more about FLOW’s new Board leadership, and see the full list of FLOW Board members.

Green Lights: Liz Kirkwood Honored among 11of Northern Michigan’s Environmental Leaders
Congratulations to FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood, who was highlighted among 11 Northern Michigan environmental leaders in the November edition of the Traverse City Business News (TCBN) and The Ticker. "My legal and advocacy work to shut down Line 5 has been important in this multi-year collaborative campaign to protect our Great Lakes from a catastrophic oil spill," Liz told TCBN. "Early on, our founder Jim Olson and I identified the State of Michigan’s role as public trustee as one of the key levers to revoking and terminating the Line 5 easement in the Straits of Mackinac." Read the full story here.

FLOW Is Hiring: Development Specialist

Join an awesome team! Everything we do is reflected in our name: For Love of Water or simply “FLOW.” Please share this job announcement with your contacts and networks. FLOW’s full-time Development Specialist position offers an opportunity to sustain a dynamic water policy nonprofit in the Great Lakes while honing and expanding the fundraising skills you bring to the team. Primary responsibilities are to enhance grant-seeking success, plan and execute annual giving campaigns, increase business engagement and partnerships, and coordinate gatherings and revenue-generating events. For more information, please click here. To apply, please submit a résumé, cover letter, and writing sample by email to No phone calls, please. Position open until filled.



Six Month Past the Shutdown Deadline: Line 5's Clock Is Ticking Ever Louder in the Great Lakes
It has been one year since Gov. Whitmer ordered Enbridge to shut down Line 5, and six months since the May 12, 2021, deadline that allowed for an orderly process to do so. The Canadian oil pipeline giant, however,  is defying the shutdown order, and Line 5 remains exposed to exceptionally strong currents, lakebed scouring, new anchor and cable strikes, and corrosion. “The clock is ticking,” FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood wrote in an op-ed published on November 4 in the Traverse City Record-Eagle. That “tick, tick, tick” sound, however, isn’t coming from Enbridge’s proposed tunnel. It is coming from an environmental ticking time bomb called Line 5—Enbridge’s twin pipelines pumping oil nearly 20 years past their intended lifespan in raging currents at the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac. Read more of Liz’s Kirkwood’s column here.

Fighting Forever Chemicals: Michigan Governor, Feds Take Action
The logjam that has halted progress in dealing with PFAS—the toxic “forever chemicals” plaguing communities across Michigan and the nation—is finally breaking up, writes FLOW’s Dave Dempsey. On October 27, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered state government to discontinue the purchase of many PFAS-containing products, as encouraged by FLOW last month. In a message to the Governor’s environmental advisor, FLOW and PFAS activist Tony Spaniola wrote, “The purchase and use of materials containing PFAS is an obstacle to reducing their presence in the environment and to reducing human health and environmental exposure. Because state government is a major purchaser of goods, this reality provides an opportunity for Governor Whitmer to show the way for other governments and the business sector to reduce PFAS in the supply chain.” Read more from Dave Dempsey about action in Michigan to address PFAS.

We Must Map and Make Room for Climate-Induced Water Levels To Protect Communities, Taxpayer Dollars
Whether it’s extreme drought or heavy precipitation and flooding from climate change events, the range between all-time high and all-time low water flows and levels in the Great Lakes watershed has changed dramatically, and will become only more extreme. While world leaders gather through November 12 in Glasgow, Scotland, at the United Nations’ COP26 climate change conference, FLOW Founder Jim Olson in this blog calls for a new approach to watershed and land use planning and zoning in the Great Lakes Basin that respects the increasing variability of water levels.

Infrastructure Bill Passes, Now the Work Begins in the Great Lakes Basin
Michigan has a gigantic opportunity to provide clean drinking water, manage sewage and stormwater runoff, and restore the Great Lakes—while promoting access for all to clean, safe, affordable water—after last Friday’s final bipartisan Congressional action on the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act. As FLOW begins to review what the $1.2 trillion bill means for environmental investments in Michigan, one of our guiding principles will be the need to assure the federal money goes where it is needed most—to help communities that are unable to drink their water safely and affordably, and to address our most urgent water pollution problems. National and state leadership is critical to securing equitable access to water. Read Dave Dempsey’s blog here.

Spurred by Citizens, Michigan Speeds Up Getting the Lead Out of Benton Harbor’s Drinking Water Supply
In the end, it took pressure by residents and citizen groups to begin moving Benton Harbor toward a clean, safe water supply this fall. Why? Despite three years of data showing that the city’s drinking water exceeded state standards for lead contamination, it wasn’t until the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center filed a petition with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on September 9 that the State of Michigan took decisive action to address the problem. The EPA followed suit with an order to the city on November 2 to improve disinfection and corrosion treatments at the water plant, monitor for disinfection byproducts, repair plant filters, and contract with a third party to study the long-term operation of the city’s drinking water system. Read Dave Dempsey’s blog here.


Sat., Nov. 13: Shop Downtown Traverse City to Support FLOW and the Great Lakes

It’s easy to support FLOW and Great Lakes protection on Saturday, November 13, on Shop Your Community Day in Downtown Traverse City. For every purchase you make at any of 60 participating stores, 15% of the sale will be donated to the organization of your choice. Be sure to choose FLOW when you pay, and bring a friend with you to increase the impact. And for a deeper dive, learn more about FLOW’s new OUR20 initiative helping communities put water stewardship at the heart of all they do. Thank you!

Weds., Dec. 8, at 6:00 p.m. ET—Join FLOW for a Conversation with Author Dave Dempsey on his Newly Updated Book "Great Lakes for Sale"

Join FLOW on Weds., Dec. 8, at 6:00 p.m. ET for a conversation with author Dave Dempsey on his newly updated book, Great Lakes for Sale. Sally Cole-Misch, author of The Best Part of Us, and longtime communicator for the International Joint Commission’s Great Lakes Regional Office, will facilitate the conversation with Dave.
"A call to action for every Great Lakes 
resident to recognize the lakes as our most immense gift from nature, something to be cared for as if our lives depended on them—because they do," Cole-Misch said about Great Lakes for Sale. "This is a must-read for every resident of the Great Lakes region." Click here to register.



FLOW’s expert staff members provide key context and analysis to journalists covering freshwater threats and protection. Our full list of media coverage involving FLOW includes these most recent stories:

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