Dear friend of FLOW,
FLOW’s 10th anniversary in 2021 has provided an opportunity for celebration and reflection with our supporters, collaborators, partners, and volunteers. It also has been a year of significant progress in our work with you to strengthen protection of the waters of Michigan and the Great Lakes, using the public trust doctrine as a powerful tool.
In July, we reached an organizational milestone. The addition of FLOW’s first-ever full-time legal director was an achievement many years in the making. Environmental attorney Zach Welcker joined FLOW after more than a decade representing Indian tribes in the Pacific Northwest on water, fisheries, and other natural resource issues. Zach now carries the legal torch borne since 2011 on a part-time and volunteer basis by Jim Olson. Click here to learn more about Zach.
Our 2021 celebration was capped by our live-streamed event, Confluence, on September 21. The online event included a special honor—the launch of the Olson-Dempsey Fund for Public Trust in the Great Lakes—recognizing FLOW luminaries Jim Olson and Dave Dempsey, and offered a fun and fast-paced frolic through FLOW’s history and heroes. Watch a replay of Confluence here.
“This is a really exciting time,” said Jim Olson. “FLOW now enjoys a solid foundation built from the work we’ve done to protect the Great Lakes through application of public trust principles, work that cuts through politics and sustains communities with water that is clean, safe, affordable—and public.”
Meanwhile, we led or contributed to numerous initiatives that bring long-lasting benefits for our water and the people who value and depend on it. In our blog about FLOW’s 2021 accomplishments, you’ll read about our work to: protect the Great Lakes from the risk of a catastrophic oil spill; establish water as a basic human right; protect groundwater, our Sixth Great Lake; advance the public trust; halt a major aquaculture threat; and enhance FLOW’s Art Meets Water program, which inspires us to protect these precious waters.
Liz Kirkwood, FLOW Executive Director
Jim Olson Passes the Torch to Zach Welcker, FLOW’s First Full-Time Legal Director
“I’m thrilled to be surrounded by all of this water and humbled by the opportunity to keep it public and protected for all,” says Zach, who moved with his family to Traverse City this summer from drought-stricken eastern Washington after more than a decade as a legal advocate for Indian tribes in the Pacific Northwest on water, fisheries, hydropower, and other natural resource issues. “I couldn’t have asked for more dedicated and tireless colleagues. Together with our allies, we are going to improve water security for current and future generations by changing the way people think about and interact with water.” Learn more here about Zach and his efforts so far to keep our freshwater public and protected.
Video Reflection: Water Connects Us to Everything That’s Alive: FLOW Inspires Us to Protect It
“Our bodies are mostly water. Water connects us to everything around us that is alive,” says award-winning poet Alison Swan. “The water and the land are inseparable from one another. Stop and think to yourself: How does what’s happening to the land around this water impact the water supply of essentially the world? Because water flows all over the surface and below the surface of earth.” Throughout 2021, FLOW has been sharing a series of video interviews with water protectors 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.
FLOW is Grateful for Our Partners and Supporters: "We Thank You All"
Year after year, FLOW works alongside dedicated partners and supporters to achieve critical protection for the waters of the Great Lakes, and we are deeply appreciative. "Together with you, we are working every day to apply legal tools and take action,” said FLOW Deputy Director Kelly Thayer in this video excerpt. "We thank you all, as leaders and members of tribes, communities, businesses, the arts, and other legal and environmental groups. We are grateful for your commitment to protecting and celebrating the Great Lakes with us."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. No phone calls, please. Position open until filled.
Traverse City Unanimously Approves Resolution Affirming Public Ownership of Our Water as a Human Right, Public Trust, and Defense against Privatization
The Traverse City Commission on December 6, 2021, unanimously approved a Resolution Proclaiming Water and Sanitation as Basic Human Rights, and Establishing that Water Shall Remain in the Public Trust. The resolution was advanced by FLOW, and in comments to the City Commission, FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood said, in part, “By protecting water as a human right, this resolution provides clear foundational principles to guide public policy and investments in water system infrastructure priorities in our community. It also promises to be a milestone in the growing debate over the creation of water futures markets.” Read more here.
Line 5 in the Straits: State of Michigan Takes a Strategic Step in the Race to Prevent a ‘Line 5’ Oil Spill
“The State of Michigan took a strategic step today in the race to prevent a catastrophic Line 5 oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac by concentrating its legal efforts in state, not federal, court,” said FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood. “The state’s legal fight and the citizen-led movement to protect the Great Lakes, jobs, and a way of life continue full speed ahead.” In response to Judge Neff’s November 16, 2021 decision to assume federal jurisdiction over the state’s 2020 case to shut down Line 5, the state has chosen to voluntarily dismiss that case and rely instead on Attorney General Dana Nessel’s 2019 lawsuit against Line-5 owner Enbridge in state circuit court in Ingham County. Read more in our press release.
“Lake Michigan May Be Coming to Idaho”
In the summer of 2021, as a protracted, historic drought starved the American West of water, an old fear surfaced anew in the Great Lakes region, writes FLOW senior policy advisor Dave Dempsey in this excerpt from his updated book, Great Lakes For Sale. Watch a recording here of FLOW’s Dec. 8 conversation with Dave. “Will Great Lakes Water Be Oasis for Drought-Stricken America?” asked one headline. “Great Lakes Diversions Could Be More Numerous,” declared another. Meanwhile, Great Lakes water levels had approached all-time highs in 2019 and 2020. In February 2020, University of Chicago law professor Todd Henderson authored an opinion column in the Chicago Tribune, suggesting the Great Lakes states sell what he called the “unneeded” water. Dave explains why this characterization is dangerously off the mark.
Can We Save and Restore the Great Lakes Watershed’s Iconic Species?
Michigan Technological University professor Nancy Langston is a nationally recognized environmental historian and the author of five books. In her latest, Climate Ghosts: Migratory Species in the Anthropocene, she explores the fate of three species historically found in the Great Lakes watershed: woodland caribou, common loons and lake sturgeon. Nancy reports on stresses imposed on these signature species, first by European colonization and now by climate change. Can we restore them? Perhaps, she answers, if we’re willing to make difficult choices. Read FLOWs interview with Langston recently about Climate Ghosts.
FLOW IN THE NEWS:
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: