Pure Michigan

Lake Superior

A few years ago when I drove into Michigan and saw “Pure Michigan” signs everywhere.  I thought it was a refreshing slogan.  Michigan is surrounded by the Great Lakes of Lake Superior, Lake Huron, and Lake Michigan. But then tainted lead pipes in Flint Michigan were found after cost-cutting by all-levels of government, and Pure Michigan became a slogan of hypocrisy for me.

Finally, a settlement has been reached to give help to the residents of Flint Michigan.

From The National Resource Defense Council (NRDC)

“The settlement requires the State of Michigan to provide Flint — a hard-hit, largely low-income community of 100,000 people near Detroit — nearly $100 million to replace the city’s lead and galvanized steel pipes within three years.

It also mandates extensive testing of Flint’s water for lead contamination and ensures that residents have properly installed tap water faucet filters while pipes are removed throughout the city.”

Water Is Life

We can't take clean water for granted!
We can’t take clean water for granted!

No one should be allowed to pollute our water ways, no one! The water we have on earth is the only water we will ever have and we must take care of it. Mr. Trump has proposed to roll back regulation for our waterways, but says he is for clean water??? The water on earth belongs to all of us, not to just big business or farmers, but to everyone. We depend on clean water for drinking and recreation, and wildlife needs clean water for survival.  We cannot choose profits over the health of people. It will take time and much litigation to eliminate these rules, but we all need to speak out for clean water. Read about rolling back clean water protection here.  Pay attention to actions not to worthless talk!

Donate to the following organizations that litigate for clean water:

NRDC, (Natural Resources Defense Council)

Earth Justice

 

Protecting our Waterways

Keep our lakes and rivers clean
Keep our lakes and rivers clean

The leaves are falling, and it is raking season.  What does this have to do with water quality?

The substances that turn our lakes and rivers green each summer come from our lawns and yards. We think of leaves as waste, but to a lake they are food. The algae in lakes love leaves, and when we feed lakes too many leaves, algal blooms turn our lakes and rivers green and smelly. Protecting water is everyone’s job What can you do? Simple–remember the land/water connection! What we do to the land we do to the water. Clean your streets when the leaves fall from the trees, and when you mow the grass clean your streets, also. Keep our lakes and rivers clean.

A Year of Water Action!

Love our lakes, rivers and streams. Take care of them!
Love our lakes, rivers and streams. Take care of them!

My not so funny joke for Water Wednesday. A conversation I had this past week!

Friend: I hear Donald Trump has invested lots of money in bottle water.

Me: Why would he do that?

Friend: He wants to get rid of all regulation to protect our drinking water.

In contrast, Minnesota Governor Dayton has called for a Year of Water Action. He encourages all Minnesotans to take a role in protecting our state’s most precious resource for future generations.  Read more about it here.

Deep rooted plants absorb run-off
Deep rooted plants absorb run-off

What are you doing to protect our water resources? Reduce chemicals, sweep sidewalks and streets, install rain gardens, plant deep-rooted plants, stop building campfires, recycle and compost, clean off boats and equipment, What else?

One River Drains Lake Superior

Magnificent Lake Superior has over 300 rivers and streams that drain into it. Last week it was a brown lake because of mega rainfall in northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan where many rivers dumped sediment from the storms. I am on a road trip from Duluth, Minnesota along the south shore of Lake Superior to Sault Ste Marie and the St. Mary’s River. Canada is on the other side of the lake and across the St. Mary’s River.

An ore boat leaves Lake Superior on the St Mary’s. River headed toward Lake Huron

Even though 300 streams drain into the big lake only one, the St. Mary’s River, carries boats and water away from Lake Superior. The St. Mary’s River carries about 42 billion gallons of water from Lake Superior daily.

Lake Superior, looks browner than this picture below appears.  I think the sun makes it look bluer than it is.

What happened to our “Sky Blue” waters?

Is this how lakes should look? We all need to do better.
Is this how lakes should look? We all need to do better.

Minnesota, the land of “Sky Blue Waters” is adding more than 300 lakes, rivers and streams to its list of lakes and streams that are impaired. The story from MPR is here.

About two-thirds of Minnesota watersheds have been tested and 40 percent of Minnesota rivers and lakes have been found to be impaired by farm runoff, bacteria, mercury or other pollutants.

 

The below ideas for protecting our lakes is from the Superiorforum.org , Sigurd Olson Institute, Northland college, and the EPA, and Great Lakes Restoration Initiative:
1 .Be conservative with your water use.
2. Recycle as much as you can with the 4 Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle and repair. And….NEVER burn trash.
3. Curb Yard Pollution. Put your lawn on a chemical-free diet!!
4. Stop aquatic invasives by cleaning plants and animals off your boat.
5. Plant native plants, and reduce turf grass.
6. Plant native trees According to Audubon, oak trees are the best for attracting insects and birds.
7. Install a rain barrel
8. Create an energy-efficient home.
9. Bring hazardous waste to waste collection sites.
10. Love our lakes!

I would add several more:
1. Rain gardens are excellent for capturing harmful water runoff.
2. Keep leaves and trash out of streets and storm drains-Adopt a storm drain!

Love our lakes, rivers and streams. Take care of them!

Love our lakes, rivers and streams. Take care of them!

3. Never use cleaning products or hand sanitizer with triclosan.
4. Reduce all plastic use–If you must use plastic bags and bottles, be sure you recycle them.                                                  5. Pick up all liter.

 

 

 

What is a rain garden?

Rain gardens collect water run-off
Rain gardens collect water run-off

A Win-Win for water!

It’s  raining this week where I live. How can we use all this water rushing into the storm drains and at the same time improve the quality of the water runs from our roofs, sidewalks, driveways and streets? This water picks up many pollutants as it races to our lakes and rivers. There are things we can do to lessen this pollution such as sweeping our driveways and sidewalks and not using chemicals on our lawns. A good way to clean this polluted run-off is to direct the water into a garden, a rain garden.  Today as it rains I can see the water rush into my rain gardens where my deep-rooted plants help clean this water as it drains into the earth below.  This past week I have been part of a team that installed two rain gardens. Both gardens captured water that would run into the Mississippi River. We had fun,  and were thrilled we helped to “plant for clean water.”

What is a rain garden?
The water that runs off our houses sidewalks, driveways and streets contains pollutants that run directly into our streams and lakes. A rain garden captures this water and the plants in the garden actually purify the water filtering out the pollutants. Like a friend said, “It’s like magic!”
An aspect of climate change is we can go for months without any precipitation then watch out…. inundation, too much rain. Rain gardens are a valuable tool to use and manage the water that falls on our properties. The plants should not need to be watered so we conserve water

Advantages of rain gardens:
1. They conserve water by managing rainfall

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This is a narrow ditch for collecting run-off

2. Rain gardens filter out pollutants

3. Blooming plants add beauty to your yard

4. Rain gardens often use native plants that bees, birds and butterflies love.

Simple steps to creating a rain garden:

1. Remove the sod and dig a hole. It must be at least 10 feet from your house and where you can direct a drain-spout, driveway or sidewalk to drain rain water.  Most rain garden holes are about 12 inches deep with wide 3 feet slanted sides surrounding the garden.  The bottom of the garden should be flat.

Digging the hole for the garden
Digging the hole for the garden

2. Mix in about one inch of compost to the bottom and sides of your new garden

3. Cover the garden with a layer of several inches of double or triple shredded mulch.

Spreading the compost, next add the shredded mulch
Spreading the compost, next add the shredded mulch

4. Plant deep-rooted plants. Most of the plants you love will work matching  the degree of sun and shade.  Also, always work to have a variety of plants that bloom at different times for the bees and butterflies.The bottom plants need to be water tolerant.  Some bottom plants I have used are: liatris, swamp milkweed, turtlehead, Culver’s root, blue flag iris, sensitive fern, cardinal-flower, blue lobelia and many kinds of sedges.

5..  Water–If it is dry, you need to water the new plants for the first couple of months.

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Our shade rain garden is almost finished
Our shade rain garden is almost finished

And from National Geographic, other ways to conserve water

From the Washington Post on managing water in your yard.

Questions? Leave a comment