Detroit water shutoffs continue, Lead in Highland Park drinking water, Lake Erie algae bloom from space

August 23, 2019 | CO2 409.59 ppm <<

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Detroit water shutoffs continue

So far in 2019, the Detroit Water and Sewer Department shut off water to 11,800 homes, according to a Bridge Magazine analysis of City of Detroit records which show:

7,310 of 11,801 homes disconnected for nonpayment since April remained without water as of Aug. 1. Of those homes, a vast majority, 5,354, are believed to be occupied. 

A new pilot program initiated by the city is expected to help only 70 of those people after six years of ongoing shutoffs, something Freep’s Nancy Kaffer calls a “humanitarian crisis” and Dr. Mona Hanna Attisha says must become a “national campaign issue.”

Water affordability is increasingly recognized as a global and national issue, particularly in Great Lakes cities with aging infrastructure. Last month, the ACLU filed a petition urging the state to suspend water shutoffs in Detroit. The city of Philadelphia established a program in 2017 that links water rates to income, but cities in Michigan considering such an approach may be hamstrung by state case law (Bolt v. Lansing) that requires utility fees to be proportional to the cost of service. To better understand the human impact of water shutoffs in Detroit, listen to these oral histories and read this story, as well as this report by WDET’s Laura Herberg on some students in Brightmoor who are creating their own decentralized water filtration system in response to water shutoffs.

Across Detroit

Lead in Highland Park | WDET’s Civic Reporter Eleanore Catolico was in Highland Park this week to learn about elevated lead in drinking water there. So far, 54 home have tested positive out of a sample of 450.

DTE and carbon reduction—they said, he said? | Two recent Bridge Magazine editorials illustrate the divide between advocates and DTE Energy over the utility’s Integrated Resource Plan.

The first editorial, written by members of the Sierra Club, claims that DTE Energy is obfuscating its true intentions via PR that promotes “modest additional reductions in greenhouse gas emissions” while the utility plans to build a new gas plant that risks ratepayers money on a new natural gas plant that involves

“big bets” at risk of becoming “stranded assets”.

In response, DTE’s CEO Gerry Anderson claims that the Sierra Club writers misrepresent the utility’s IRP, which he says includes scenarios in which no new gas plant will be built:

A gas plant will be added only if essential for reliability – our preferred path would be to add renewables only.

DTE won approval for the new gas plant in 2018.

Rainy spring affecting food pantry supplies | The amount of produce distributed by the Food Bank Council of Michigan is down by nearly a third this year compared to last, owing to the cold, wet spring and resulting reduced and delayed plantings and harvest.

Detroit Zoo to pay extra for 100% renewable energy power | The Detroit Zoo will be 100% wind-powered by 2021 as it becomes the latest large commercial or industrial customer to join DTE Energy’s MIGreenPower program. The program allows customers to voluntarily pay a premium to support the energy utility’s investments in renewable energy. The program was approved in January by the MPSC; the Zoo joins the University of Michigan and General Motors in the program.

According to this MPSC filing, the subscription fee for the MIGreenPower Program is $0.072 / kWh ($ 0.052 / kWh for wind-only) including marketing and administrative charges. In 2019, the projected marketing cost was 61% of the budget. The fee is offset by a credit that is reduced annually. The program has come under criticism in the past for being too expensive and not competitive with tradable Renewable Energy Credits (REC’s) available on the open market. A MIGreenPower program for residential and small commercial customers was approved in February by the MPSC after it addressed concerns related to high costs for marketing and administration, among other items.

Jeff-Chalmers still flooding | Planet Detroit visited Detroit’s Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood this week, where Detroit River water was still flowing into storm drains, and cattails and other coastal vegetation were growing right next to the street.

Across Michigan & The Great Lakes

‘Sorry’ says steel company that killed lake Michigan fish | A spill of ammonia and cyanide into the Calumet River from Portage, Indiana steel mill ArcelorMittal prompted a fish kill and Lake Michigan beach closures this past week. The company issued an apology.

PFAS, explained | A new report showed that one in 10 Michigan public water systems tested positive for PFAS.. So how did 1.5 million Michigan residents become exposed to PFAS in their drinking water? This MLive video explores that question:

Consumers Energy CEO: Please use less energy | A new campaign by Consumer’s Energy to fight climate change kicked off this week with a straightforward request from its CEO Patti Poppe to use less of the utility’s product through energy efficiency measures.

Algae visible from space | The annual Lake Erie Algae Bloom is in full swing, closing beaches and showing up on satellite photos.


Across the Globe

Planet Detroit is experimenting with a rundown of global news we think our readers would not want to miss. Please let us know how you feel about this section by replying to this email.

Amazon on fire | The Lake Erie algae bloom is not the only environmental disaster visible on satellite photos this week. Fire in the Amazon (aka the “lungs of the planet”) set by beef ranchers and fanned by drought are raging this week.

(Related) Eat less meat, fight climate change | This week the NYT highlighted a study that argues eating less meat can be one way for individuals who still want to eat some meat to fight climate change. Here’s a rundown on GHG emissions by protein source.

Recycling without China | Is there a future for recycling without China? NPR reports from a meeting of the plastic pipeline, where a Nestle representative worried that plastic water bottles “may be going the way of the mink coat.” Planet Detroit reported recently on local municipalities opting out of recycling due to rising costs as China rejects our trash.

Connect | Engage with Detroit’s environment

Have an opportunity you’d like to see featured here? Let us know.

August 24 | Joe Louis Greenway Tour & Fundraiser | Detroit >>>

August 24 | Bridge Valley Fen Tour with Michigan Botanical Council | Clarkston >>> Meet at 7150 Dixie Highway in Clarkston at 10 am

August 24 | Harvest Day, Reroot Pontiac | Pontiac >>>

August 25 | Live Honey Harvest | Detroit >>>

August 28 | Urban agriculture bike tour | Detroit >>>

August 29 | Farmstead Tour & Intro to Permaculture Design | Ferndale >>>

August 29 | Open Farm & Market by Fresh Cut Detroit | Detroit >>>

September 4 | Autumn Gardening: The Late Show | Royal Oak >>>

September 5 | Healthy Soils and Wise Fertilizing | Mt. Clemens >>>

September 7 | Native Plant Sale, North Oakland Headwaters Land Conservancy | Clarkston  >>>

September 7 | Native Garden Tour | Stage Nature Center, Troy | >>>

September 8 | Make Food Not Waste | Eastern Market >>>

September 8 | Michigan Monarch Festival | Clarkston >>>

September 8 | Downriver Butterflies Plant Swap | Lincoln Park >>>

September 10 | The 13th Annual Garden Party on Belle Isle | Belle Isle >>>

September 12 | Crafts on the Clinton | Yates Cider Mill >>>

September 14 | Fall Migratory Bird Walk #1 | Davisburg >>>

September 14 | Monarch Butterfly Tag & Release | Livonia >>>

September 14 | Bird Walk at Ford House | Grosse Pointe >>>

September 15 | Cranbrook Gardens Tour | Bloomfield Hills >>>

September 21 | 13th Annual D-Town Farm Harvest Festival | Detroit >>>

September 21 | Applied Soil Mycology with Leif Olson (hosted by FungiFreights | Detroit >>>

September 24 | The Gardening Guru: Soil, Water and Hardscapes | Southfield >>>

October 4 | Wild Night Out | Pontiac >>>

October 5 | State of Compost | Detroit >>>

October 9 | Bees, pollination and beekeeping | Clinton Township >>>

Thanks for reading!