Categories
environment

Along the Great Lakes, It’s Time to Prepare for Extremes

Some Things Last Longer Than You Think They Will

More discussion of the Great Lakes and climate change from The New York Times:

Last year the five lakes that together hold 20 percent of the fresh surface water on the planet broke 10 high-water records, and more are expected to fall this year. The inundation follows a 15-year span from 1999 to 2014 when the so-called upper lakes of Superior, Michigan and Huron experienced the longest period of low water in recorded history.

The lakes have always been tempestuous neighbors, but today they appear to be entering a new era of volatility that is testing the region as never before. The simple explanation is that the last five years have been the wettest in history in the Great Lakes watershed, which encompasses parts of eight states and two Canadian provinces. But some scientists believe a more complicated dynamic is at work: a warming climate that will continue to cause extreme fluctuations in weather and water levels, threatening havoc for lakeside homeowners, towns and cities, tourism and shipping.

All of this has many lakefront property owners reconsidering their relationship with the lakes they love. Should people living in areas prone to flooding and shoreline erosion pack up and leave? Or should they stay, and at what cost to themselves and taxpayers? How much are communities willing to spend to protect against storms and rising waters?

(click here to continue reading Opinion | Along the Great Lakes, It’s Time to Prepare for Extremes – The New York Times.)

The Midwest might have been complacent about climate change, but less and less as the facts become more obvious.

As an aside, the Great Lakes are just one area on the planet with coasts, what about all the rest? Are we going to start factoring in cost to keep beaches livable? Or?

House - Sarah FitzSimons

Categories
Chicago-esque environment

A Terrifying Interview About Lake Michigan

You Got To Try To See A Little Further

Edward McClelland of Chicago magazine reports:

In 2013, Lake Michigan reached its all-time recorded low, forcing ships to carry less cargo and leaving docks high and dry. Now, just seven years later, the lake is approaching its all-time high. Earlier this month, waters from a January 11 storm tore up the lakefront path, temporarily shut down portions of Lake Shore Drive, and forced the permanent closure of three Rogers Park beaches, which will now be covered with protective riprap.

Dan Egan, a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporter and author of The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, gave a talk at the Harold Washington Library four days after that storm. He spoke about climate change’s contribution to the lake’s rapid fall and rise, and why this is particularly threatening to low-lying Chicago. This week, I spoke with Egan about that same topic in more depth.

(click here to continue reading A Terrifying Interview About Lake Michigan | Chicago magazine | Politics & City Life January 2020.)

Preferential Treatment

Fascinating interview, worth a read. One snippet that has been haunting me a bit:

EM: Over the years, Chicago built its shoreline outward into Lake Michigan using thousands of acres of landfill. Would we still have these problems if we had our original, natural shoreline?

I think the problems would be worse. Chicago was kind of a sag. It was lowland. It was built up — that’s why Chicago is where it is. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to put three more feet of water into that lake. Just think: we’ve been up six feet since 2013. What if we went up six feet from 2020?

EM: Then all the lakefront streets are underwater.

It would seem. But they already were when the storm came in a couple weeks ago.

EM: Could we end up back down six feet, if we don’t have a polar vortex and we go back to the evaporation we were having?

It could go down further than that. At five feet above the long-term average, we armor the coast, then all of a sudden it shrinks back ten feet. That riprap at Howard Beach, what’s that going to look like if the lake goes down? Do you go in and pull it out?

Yikes!

Your Confidence Might Be Shattered

Categories
Business environment

Nestlé pays $200 a year to bottle water from Michigan

Summer Vision

 The Guardian reported in 2017:

Despite having endured lead-laden tap water for years, Flint pays some of the highest water rates in the US. Several residents cited bills upwards of $200 per month for tap water they refuse to touch.

But just two hours away, in the tiny town of Evart, creeks lined by wildflowers run with clear water. The town is so small, the fairground, McDonald’s, high school and church are all within a block. But in a town of only 1,503 people, there are a dozen wells pumping water from the underground aquifer. This is where the beverage giant Nestlé pumps almost 100,000 times what an average Michigan resident uses into plastic bottles that are sold all over the midwest for around $1.

To use this natural resource, Nestlé pays $200 per year

(click here to continue reading Nestlé pays $200 a year to bottle water near Flint – where water is undrinkable | US news | The Guardian.)

How is this right? Nestlé should have to provide clean drinking water to Flint as part of their deal, or even better, pay to upgrade the water mains, especially since Nestlé is trying to increase the amount of water they pump out:

Now, Nestlé wants more Michigan water. In a recent permit application, the company asked to pump 210m gallons per year from Evart, a 60% increase, and for no more than it pays today.

Your Confidence Might Be Shattered

Access to clean water should be a human right, all over the world, including in Michigan. Private corporations shouldn’t be able to profit from a public good.

The fight continues:

 Michigan’s second-highest court has dealt a legal blow to Nestlé’s Ice Mountain water brand, ruling that the company’s commercial water-bottling operation is “not an essential public service” or a public water supply.

 The court of appeals ruling is a victory for Osceola township, a small mid-Michigan town that blocked Nestlé from building a pumping station that doesn’t comply with its zoning laws. But the case could also throw a wrench in Nestlé’s attempts to privatize water around the country.

 The fight to stop Nestlé from taking America’s water to sell in plastic bottles
Read more
If it is to carry out such plans, then it will need to be legally recognized as a public water source that provides an essential public service. The Michigan environmental attorney Jim Olson, who did not represent Osceola township but has previously battled Nestlé in court, said any claim that the Swiss multinational is a public water utility “is ludicrous”.

 “What this lays bare is the extent to which private water marketers like Nestlé, and others like them, go [in] their attempts to privatize sovereign public water, public water services, and the land and communities they impact,” Olson said.

 The ruling, made on Tuesday, could also lead state environmental regulators to reconsider permits that allow Nestlé to pump water in Michigan.

The Osceola case stems from Nestle’s attempt to increase the amount of water it pulls from a controversial wellhead in nearby Evart from about 250 gallons per minute to 400 gallons per minute. It needs to build the pump in a children’s campground in Osceola township to transport the increased load via a pipe system.

The township in 2017 rejected the plans based on its zoning laws, and Nestlé subsequently sued. A lower court wrote in late 2017 that water was essential for life and bottling water was an “essential public service” that met a demand, which trumped Osceola township’s zoning laws.

However, a three-judge panel in the appellate court reversed the decision.

 

(click here to continue reading Nestlé cannot claim bottled water is ‘essential public service’, court rules | Business | The Guardian.)

Categories
Photography

We Can All Become Gods On Occasion

We Can All Become Gods On Occasion

Photographer, Lake Michigan.

(click to embiggen)

Photo taken April 9th, 2017, and processed in my digital darkroom January 15, 2020.

The day was actually quite bright, with an azure sky, and the water reflecting blue hues, instead I muted the colors (90% fade of an overlay of Fuji Pro 400H in emulation)

Categories
Business environment

Michigan OKs Nestlé Water Extraction, Despite 80K+ Public Comments Against It

No Information Left Of Any Kind
No Information Left Of Any Kind

NPR reports:

In a much-watched case, a Michigan agency has approved Nestlé’s plan to boost the amount of water it takes from the state. The request attracted a record number of public comments — with 80,945 against and 75 in favor.

Nestlé’s request to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to pump 576,000 gallons of water each day from the White Pine Springs well in the Great Lakes Basin was “highly controversial,” member station Michigan Radio reports. But despite deep public opposition, the agency concluded that the company’s plan met with legal standards.

Under the plan, Nestlé will be approved to pump up to 400 gallons of water per minute from the well, rather than the 250 gallons per minute it had been extracting. The company first applied for the new permit in July 2016.

Water is a complicated and sore subject in many areas, but in few places more so than in Michigan, where a crisis has raged for years over high levels of lead and other dangerous heavy metals in the water in Flint. And back in 2014, Detroit resorted to shutting off water to thousands of customers as it fought bankruptcy.

With that recent history as a backdrop, Nestlé’s plan to boost the amount of water it takes from the Great Lakes State drew attention and added another dimension to a debate over whether water should be seen as a commodity, a commercial product — or a human right.

Nestlé’s well is in western Michigan, near the town of Evart…The company bottles the water for sale under its Ice Mountain label.

(click here to continue reading Michigan OKs Nestlé Water Extraction, Despite 80K+ Public Comments Against It : The Two-Way : NPR.)

Disgusting, really that Nestlé gets to sell, for profit, water that is taken from the public at a rate of 400 gallons a minute. By my quick math: 400 gallons x 60 minutes x 24 hours x 365 days=  approximately 210,240,000 gallons a year; roughly 1,681,920,000 Iron Mountain 16 ml bottles that are sold for $3.99 in airports, or cheaper at, for instance, Target). Even accounting for the costs of “extraction”, plastic bottles, shipping, labeling, and so on, that’s a damn nice profit margin. Almost 2 billion 16 ml bottles a year, for basically free!

Thirsty Side view
Thirsty? Side view of discarded plastic water bottles

Especially because of this:

in Mecosta County, Nestlé is not required to pay anything to extract the water, besides a small permitting fee to the state and the cost of leases to a private landowner. In fact, the company received $13 million in tax breaks from the state to locate the plant in Michigan. The spokesperson for Nestlé in Michigan is Deborah Muchmore. She’s the wife of Dennis Muchmore—Governor Rick Snyder’s chief of staff, who just retired and registered to be a lobbyist.

 

(click here to continue reading Michigan’s Water Wars: Nestlé Pumps Millions of Gallons for Free While Flint Pays for Poisoned Water | Democracy Now!.)

Private profits from public resources, despicable. And the Republican assholes currently running the State of Michigan are happy to do it.

Thirsty
Thirsty?

Categories
Business environment

Foxconn wants to stick 7 million-gallon straw into Lake Michigan

Foxconn 78B2
Foxconn 78B2. 

Foxconn, not content to slurp up all the cash in Wisconsin, is now seeking to drain Lake Michigan. Sure the Great Lakes have a lot of fresh water, but why allow it to privatized? And polluted?

Less than a year after Waukesha secured permission to withdraw more than 7 million gallons a day from the lake, Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group could end up winning access to a similar amount of fresh water for its new Wisconsin factory with merely a stroke of a pen from Gov. Scott Walker, the company’s chief political sponsor.

Foxconn’s bid for Lake Michigan water is the latest test of the decade-old Great Lakes Compact, an agreement among the region’s states intended to make it almost impossible to direct water outside the natural basin of the Great Lakes unless it is added to certain products, such as beer and soft drinks.

At issue with both Waukesha and Foxconn is an exemption that allows limited diversions outside the basin for “a group of largely residential customers that may also serve industrial, commercial, and other institutional operators.”

Of the 7 million gallons of water withdrawn daily for Foxconn, 4.3 million gallons would be treated and returned to the lake and the rest would be lost, mostly from evaporation in the company’s cooling system, according to the application sent to Wisconsin officials.

That amount of lost water falls below a daily limit of 5 million gallons that would trigger a review by other Great Lakes states, including those that lost out on the factory.

(click here to continue reading Foxconn finds way to stick 7 million-gallon straw into Lake Michigan – Chicago Tribune.)

Treated, sure, but not returned to pristine state I’m guessing.

No Information Left Of Any Kind
No Information Left Of Any Kind

You Got To Try To See A Little Further
You Got To Try To See A Little Further

Lake Michigan in October
Lake Michigan in October

Categories
Photography

Spoke Together All In A Rush was uploaded to Flickr

Lake Michigan somewhere

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/LZ1yHL

I took Spoke Together All In A Rush on March 29, 2013 at 06:12AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on October 06, 2016 at 10:13AM

Categories
Photography

Summer Vision was uploaded to Flickr

Montrose Harbor

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/JwFdFU

I took Summer Vision on June 18, 2016 at 01:00PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 27, 2016 at 07:06PM

Categories
Photography

Zen and the Art of Police Barricades was uploaded to Flickr

Buddha laughs

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/EZ548n

I took Zen and the Art of Police Barricades on October 20, 2015 at 05:07AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 02, 2016 at 10:37AM

Categories
Photography

Lake Michigan Is A Dangerous Body Of Water was uploaded to Flickr

Evanston, just south of Northwestern University

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/CL3LyL

I took Lake Michigan Is A Dangerous Body Of Water on January 07, 2016 at 07:01AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on January 07, 2016 at 01:01PM

Categories
Photography

Indirect Enquiries Added Nothing was uploaded to Flickr

Harrington Beach State Park, Lake Michigan, near Belgium

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/wCbg9w

I took Indirect Enquiries Added Nothing on November 21, 2010 at 02:36PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on August 04, 2015 at 03:25PM

Categories
Photography

Taking The Easy Way Out was uploaded to Flickr

Lake Michigan

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/uMvgbJ

I took Taking The Easy Way Out on April 25, 2010 at 03:47PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on July 08, 2015 at 06:49AM

Categories
Photography

You Are Part of Everything was uploaded to Flickr

minnows, Lake Michigan

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/uW8i2c

I took You Are Part of Everything on May 23, 2015 at 05:45PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 26, 2015 at 03:26PM

Categories
Photography

Ready To Go Anywhere was uploaded to Flickr

Ready To Go Anywhere

Lincoln Park, North Avenue Beachembiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/txPXktI took Ready To Go Anywhere on May 23, 2015 at 05:29PMand processed it in my digital darkroom on May 25, 2015 at 03:07PM
Categories
Photography

Your Wicked Contrivance was uploaded to Flickr

sculpture, Lincoln Park

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/qcY5np

I took Your Wicked Contrivance on June 07, 2013 at 05:45PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on December 21, 2014 at 08:17PM