Dear friend of FLOW,

As we gather together—where possible—with family and loved ones this holiday season, we look ahead and recognize that the next 10 years will be critical for protecting the Great Lakes from a multitude of threats, including the effects from climate change, assaults on access to healthy drinking water, and the intensified danger of the privatization and commodification of water.

This battle is underway globally. The question is not only who owns the water, but whether it's for sale, or traded, through efforts on Wall Street to control and commodify it. Earlier this year large financial interests announced a plan to trade water futures as a commodity. This week FLOW joined Food and Water Watch and more than 100 other organizations in a petition to a federal oversight agency to contest the legality of allowing water to be traded as a commodity. Water is public. Corporations, like people, have a right to use water, not turn it to a product for their own financial gain. Now is the time, this is the place where we all join together for FLOW's next 10 years of Great Lakes protection against these many threats. Water is a commons. It protects all of us. In return, it is our responsibility to protect it.

The next 10 years are critical to safeguarding our water as a public trust—held in trust for the benefit of our children and grandchildren.

In solidarity,

Jim Olson, FLOW Founder
P.S. from FLOW editor:  Click here to watch a video of Jim’s rallying words.

FLOW Spotlight:
A Remembrance: Terry Swier, A Michigan Water Warrior
As anyone who knew Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC) leader Terry Swier could attest, it was her clear-sighted commitment to principle and her conviction—grounded like the roots of an oak tree deep in the soil with branches wide in the sky—that stood behind MCWCs victory over Nestlé. “Who owns the water?” Terry asked, something she would keep asking for the next 20 years. Not Perrier or Nestlé. It belongs to the public. Read Jim Olson’s remembrance of Terry.

Video Reflection: FLOW Has Pushed Me to See Water as a Shared Resource 
"What FLOW has done consistently is to tweak my conscience and push me harder to look at water from the perspective of water as a shared resource. Water is something we all use, but none of us really owns," said Joe VanderMeulen, a science journalist and publisher of Nature Change. "One of my earliest memories is standing thigh-deep in the waters of Lake Michigan and feeling the waves pulling me in and pushing me out, and staring off into the distance at this incredible scene." Throughout 2021, FLOW has been sharing a series of video interviews with key water supporters and stakeholders who have been instrumental to our work and shared successes over the past decade. We hope you enjoy these stories and reflections and share them with others who might be inspired to join us in protecting freshwater for all.

Does Environmental History Become Environmental Prophecy?
When a book of history you’ve written becomes history itself, this not only makes you feel old, but also gives you a chance, in hindsight, to see how accurate it is, writes FLOW senior policy advisor Dave Dempsey. Twenty years ago, in 2001, the University of Michigan Press published Ruin and Recovery: Michigan’s Rise as a Conservation Leader. “It was a book I’d long wanted to write, “ said Dave.“Based on 20 prior years of learning the environmental history of Michigan on the job, I attempted to put in perspective the good and bad in the state’s management of its natural resources. Despite the catastrophes marking Michigan’s environmental history, I intended the book to capture a stirring story of citizen action to rebuild and protect the air, water, forests, fish and wildlife–and human health–since Michigan became a state in 1837.” Now it’s time to look back, as Dave does in this reflection.

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. This is the chance to join an organization that has achieved tremendous growth over the past two years and seeks to develop leadership in every staff position. 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.



Enbridge’s Attempt to Get into Federal Court Is Two Years Too Late
Since June 2019, Enbridge has agreed that state court is the proper venue for litigating Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s lawsuit that seeks, under public trust and state environmental laws, to shut down Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac. That was until Wednesday, December 15, when the Canadian pipeline company filed a legal notice suddenly seeking to remove that lawsuit to federal court. “The statutory deadline for removing this case to federal court passed over two years ago,” said Zach Welcker, FLOW’s legal director. “Enbridge is making a frivolous argument that a federal court’s recent jurisdictional ruling in a separate case should give it another bite at the apple, but the apple is long gone as a matter of civil procedure.”

FLOW Welcomes Operations Manager Meagan Walters
FLOW welcomed new Operations Manager Meagan Walters to our team in early December. Meagan’s deep interest and commitment to clean water is demonstrated not only by her studies, but also by her experiences, including prior internships monitoring water quality for the Long Lake Association in Traverse City and providing environmental education to the public at the Grass River Natural Area in Bellaire. Learn more about Meagan and her love for water.

What’s Your Favorite Great Lake?
With the Winter Solstice and the darkest day of the year behind us, it’s time for a little light. FLOW Senior Policy Advisor Dave Dempsey recently posted a survey on social media asking followers and friends to name their favorite Great Lake and to explain their allegiance. The answers were both quantitative and qualitative. The qualitative results reflect respondents’ insights. Dr. Nancy Langston, a distinguished professor of environmental history at Michigan Technological University and author of Sustaining Lake Superior and the just-released Climate Ghosts, offered a simple explanation for her vote for Lake Superior: “Why? Because it is superior!”



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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