BY COLIN MACDOUGALL
The disaster that happened in Flint should be a wakeup call to citizens all over the United States and especially us here in the state of Michigan. The U.S. has a growing problem with freshwater being too polluted to drink.
The Michigan League of Conservation Voters report card on “How Green is Your Governor?” gave Rick Snyder a “C” for the year 2014. I’m sure that by the time the 2015 report card shows up his grade will soon drop lower. The MLCV tracks all the actions that the governor and his administration make concerning protecting Michigan’s environment and re-energizing the economy.
According to the United States Geological Survey, the “Great Lakes State,” has the highest percentage of freshwater area of any state making up 41 percent of its surface area. This is more than 40,000 square miles of water, with a shoreline that stretches more than 3,000 miles.
The Great Lakes contain nearly 21 percent of the surface freshwater on Earth. For the most part, the water in the upper lakes is generally good, meaning that the pollution levels are relatively low. But in the lower parts of the lakes, there’s lower quality due to the intense agriculture, industrial manufacturing and runoff caused by motor vehicles.
In 2010, an oil spill dumped 1.1 million gallons into the Kalamazoo river. The Enbridge Energy pipeline ruptured a little more than a half mile from Marshall, Michigan. Original estimates for the cleanup was $5 million, but by the summer of 2011, the cleanup cost had totaled more than $765 million. The Federal Department of Transportation did fine Enbridge Energy company. Sadly, the fine was only $3.7 million and some are still not convinced that the river has been fully cleaned.
Several different grassroots movements have sprouted in Michigan to further enact legislation to prevent future water-related issues, one of them being Oil and Water Don’t Mix – a movement concerned about water quality, pollution and a sustainable economy. The group looks to shut down the aging Enbridge Line 5, a 60-year-old oil pipeline that spans the straits of Mackinac.
The Committee to Ban Fracking is another grassroots organization looking to ban hydraulic oil fracturing in Michigan. The group is concerned with the chemicals that are pumped into the shale level. The chemicals have been known to show up in underground aquifers and can be harmful for humans.
According to GrinningPlanet.com, 40 percent of rivers and 46 percent of lakes in the U.S. are too polluted for swimming, fishing and aquatic life – the Mississippi River being one of the most polluted rivers in the country. It carries about 1.5 metric tons of nitrogen-based pollution from the central farmlands creating a large dead zone in the in the Gulf of Mexico, the Ohio River being one of its largest tributaries of the Mississippi and is considered the most polluted river in the country.
The Flint water crisis brings out questions as to the direction the state and the country should take. Water is essential for all life on the planet. If we continue to pollute our rivers and lakes at our current rate, we all will soon be drinking the devastating effects. The current ecological standards that our state government has implemented are not sufficient. We need to take action now and enact legislation to protect this pristine ecosystem.