Pollution in the Great Lakes- By Morgan Malone and Carly Skjodt

Context

Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal:

The Michigan Penal Code Act 328 of 193. 750.110b Dumping of garbage, oil, rubbish from boats; penalty. Eff. Jan. 1, 1966

More information:

Specific Section: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(l25mlxc3mbulsudj3spawygt))/mileg.aspx?page=getobject&objectname=mcl-750110b&query=on&highlight=dumping

Full Act: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(vq3hav5k3o0yweqpmfgjwcth))/mileg.aspx?page=getObject&objectname=mcl-act-328-of-1931

 

Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan, or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan:

Pollution affects everyone. Even trash in oceans across the world can carry over to local areas. So, this problem we are facing, might seem like it is local to Michigan and the surrounding states, however it is a worldwide issue that many people will be effected by.  And now that it has been proven that there is a huge level of pollution in the great lakes, Michigan residents and students alike are in close range of its effects. Things like Aquatic diseases and deformities, human sickness from toxins in water and food, and Eutrophication will be stopped and begin to reverse with our proposal of stopping this pollution.

How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?

I Live in California and love all bodies of water, oceans, lakes, pools, etc. So, when my friend asked me to go up to northern Michigan with her and her family to her lake house could not pass up the opportunity. While I was there I noticed a lot of trash on the shore, discoloration of water, and even areas that you could not swim in. I had no idea a lake so big could be polluted like this. I wanted to know more about the severity of the pollution here in Michigan, and how it got to be on the level it is today. So, I started looking up articles and websites all about this cause of the Great Lakes being polluted and the many politics that surround it. I then told Carly about my concern for the Great Lakes and she started considering it as well. It is concerning that bodies of water so close to us can have big pollution problems like this. So, we decided to make this report about it!

How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?

Our service activity has been working with families and children at the local children’s hospital. Although it does not directly link to our cause and proposal, like I have stated above pollution effects everyone, especially those who live around it. What I have noticed specifically was the importance of clean water, especially to sick children. Dehydration when one is sick can worsen the sickness. Although Michigan does not take its water directly out of the great lakes, if this becomes polluted enough to seep into ground water then many people and their access to clean water will be effected. The effects in Flint should show us what horrible things can happen if we are not super carful with water supplies. These facts made me more passionate about cleaning the great lakes, and all over Michigan in general. If we have a cleaner earth, we will have greater health.

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

Consultations

Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).

CONSULTATION 1:

We met with Brian Steglitz, Manager, City of Ann Arbor Water Treatment Services. He is responsible for running the water treatment plant and has connections with 4 damns in Michigan. He helped explain to us what the dams do to lake water specifically, and helped draw up ways that we could link water cleaning technology with dams so we could tackle two problems at once and make a cost-efficient solution for our problem statement. Brain thinks it could be possible to link these two together, but the problems we would face would be, the funds that needed to be raised, the private vs. public company boundaries, and government cuts and aids. He also told us to look at foundations like California who use wetlands to clean water.

CONSULTATION 2:

We met with Eliza Stein, a graduating senior majoring in both environmental science and biology.  She has heard about this problem in the great lakes and was happy to give us her advice on the subject. We learned that setting up pop up meetings or classes about environmental education would be easier and cheaper than we thought. Environmental students would be more than willing to hold these meetings educating people about the pollution going on in Michigan, and some would even do it for free. This goes very well with our solution about educating the youth in Michigan about pollution to spread awareness. By using college students passionate about the cause, we can save money and the great lakes.

CONSULTATION 3:

The last person we met with was professor and associate Research Scientist Adlerstein Gonzalez, PhD. She is an applied ecologist and visual artist who explore the connections between art and science. As a scientist, she investigates processes at the ecosystem level using statistical modeling. Her main interest in research is to understand ecological processes and population dynamics of aquatic organisms at the ecosystem level, those aspects that are relevant to resource management. What we focused our meeting on with her was ways to fund this cleanup and pollution solutions we have come up with and have ways to sustain the income. We know that our government (especially right now with Trump) is not the most reliable source on environmental reservation. Dr. Gonzlez told us to consider organizations like the National Wildlife Federation and other non-profits who get their money from donors and the government alike. Well- known nonprofits like this have financial stability and will be really interested in our topic.

Prospectus:

Water pollution is a major issue in the United States and specifically Michigan with all the water we have around us. The Great Lakes, being the largest system of fresh water lakes in the world, shared by the United States and Canada, make up 95% of the surface freshwater in the U.S. Nearly 22 million pounds of plastic debris enter the Great Lakes every year. According to Great Lakes Information Network, “water pollution is defined as a change in the chemical, physical, and biological health of a waterway due to human activity.” The ways that humans can impact the quality of water in the great lakes include sewage disposal, toxic contamination, runoff from agriculture, and air pollution to name a few.  The Great Lakes area is home to more than 35 million people, meaning that there is a high amount of untreated raw sewage, contributing to the unfortunate amount of poor water quality. There are many negative effects of water pollution, including aquatic diseases and deformities, human health issues, and eutrophication. The worsening health of fish and wildlife is attributed to the poor quality of water we have in our lakes. Heavy metals and human-made chemicals are resulting in death for animals, and sometimes even humans. Because of this, humans that often eat fish will most likely have high levels of toxic chemicals in their bodies. This leads to people having a higher risk of health problems because of their organic pollutants lingering in our lakes. Other human issues stemming from this issue is drinking water contamination and skin infections from the water. Along with the human and fish health issues, eutrophication is also a major issue within these lakes. Eutrophication is known as excessive plant growth, which decreases the amount of oxygen available in the water leading to the dying off of certain species. There are many issues that stem from water pollution in the Great Lakes which need to be addressed and fixed immediately. 

https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2016/12/great-lakes-pollution.html

https://creeklife.com/blog/what-you-need-to-know-about-water-pollution-in-the-great-lakes

http://www.great-lakes.net/teach/pollution/water/water1.html

Potential Solutions:

Describe three reasonable, feasible potential solutions or approaches that would help address this problem.

SOLUTION 1:

Pollution prevention- We want to work to educate the affected areas about non-point source pollution and putting bans on companies that use the Great Lakes as a dumping sources. We need to create more organizations like the Triple regional P2 Roundtable that educated people about all types of pollution and holds seminars about ways to clean up their own lives.  We want to fund these programs so that all affected area populations of the great lakes pollution will know about how to help not pollute. We also want to put bans on companies that dump directly into the great lakes or use the water as a cleaning source. We will need the federal government to make new laws that prohibit this or at least tax the companies when and if they do pollute.

http://www.glrppr.org/

SOLUTION 2:

Great lakes restoration- A possible solution would be to fund programs that help clean up the water in the great lakes and the surrounding areas. We would need government money for programs to treat toxic and nutrient pollution, habitat degradation, and improve human and animal health. Organizations like the national wildlife foundation already work toward these goals and more funding for these organizations would clean up the great lakes at a greater speed. Our law would move more federal money into these programs hands with laws and restrictions on how they could spend it.

https://online.nwf.org/site/Donation2?df_id=41872&mfc_pref=T&41872.donation=form1&gclid=CIe41oakyNICFVG5wAodtuoBQg

SOLUTION 3:

We want to make an act that creates dams and cleans waterways prior to entering The Great Lakes. -There are many invasive species being leaked into the great lakes, like the Asian carp that is dangerous to the fish that are naturally born in the great lake area. There has been talk about building a damn to control the species that go into the great lakes from its many water flow sources. What we want to do is also control the quality of water that is flowing into the great lakes. Water from nearby streams experience a lot of non-point source pollution from the towns and cities they run through. If we can clean and treat the water before it comes into the great lakes then we can make the water cleaner from the source.

https://www.fema.gov/benefits-dams

Reaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator:

Feedback from a topic coordinator on our proposal:

“As you continue your work on this topic, try to play “devil’s advocate” to your own ideas. The state has known about this problem for quite some time now, so there must be some reasons why the issue is so challenging and slow to fix. Identifying shortcomings in the past will help your suggestions be more likely to work. Overall, decent work here and I look forward to seeing how you move forward on this project. Feel free to reach out with any further questions.

Areas for Improvement: You do not make mention of any Great Lakes restoration projects in the past. Is there current legislation that prevents dumping and pollution, or is the current activity actually legal? Historically, different organizations have spent hundreds of millions on cleanup projects. Why have these not worked? While newer research on the issue is quite alarming, it is also a problem we have known about for years. In order to create a proposal that could work, it will be important to understand why past legislation has failed to solve the problem. Additionally, keep in mind the costs of a project of this size. If you are proposing a very costly proposal, it will be important to make an estimate of the total cost and where that funding can be taken from. Finally, as you mention, many other states and Canada surround these lakes. Is this a problem that Michigan can solve on their own, or do they need cooperation from these neighbors?”

What we have learned here and made edits on was, working with critiques and people against our cause in mind. By doing this, we can make our solutions stronger and hopefully close any loopholes before others can find them.

We looked into the past great lakes restoration efforts and learned, how they were funded, what types of clean-up efforts took place, what still has to be done, and how well did the solutions turn out. By looking at the past, we can learn how to take from theirs what worked and then fix what did not. The only problem we are running into is the fact that our money cannot come from the same area because the government has chosen to cut the spending in this area.

To answer his other questions, we think that ours is different than what has been done before because we are trying to tie in environmental conservation with damns that are already in place. This fixes the sustainability issue and is a new way to reach the lakes other than having clean-up efforts for a short period of time.

We also explored having our neighbors or Canada help on this issue, however the money from their efforts comes from many different places and would be hard to coordinate with. This would defiantly be worth looking into, but would take longer than our solutions mentioned above. They also have a lot more regulations and cleanup efforts in place then us. I think we need to have our own before we should collaborate. We did learn a lot from the processes and materials they used to make cleanup efforts

 

Research process:

Describe your research process — indicate who you talked to (including but not limited to consultants), what you read, what you’re thinking was, how it changed over time, and how your consultants changed your thinking. This description of your research process definitely could include “dead ends,” or ideas you had that didn’t ultimately bear fruit.  In short, we want to know what you did and how it led to your legislation, and we also want you to give us a window into your thought process.

How we picked the topic:

I Live in California and love all bodies of water, oceans, lakes, pools, etc. So when my friend asked me to go up to northern Michigan with her and her family to her lake house could not pass up the opportunity. While I was there I noticed a lot of trash on the shore, discoloration of water, and even areas that you could not swim in. I had no idea a lake so big could be polluted like this. I wanted to know more about the severity of the pollution here in Michigan, and how it got to be on the level it is today. So, I started looking up articles and websites all about this cause of the Great Lakes being polluted and the many politics that surround it. I then told Carly about my concern for the Great Lakes and she started looking into it as well. It is concerning those bodies of water so close to us can have big pollution problems like this. So, we decided to make this report about it!

What we did from there:

We looked up as much information about this as we could and even talked to our friends that had lake houses in Northern Michigan to see if they have noticed a difference in the last few years of pollution levels. From here we had what our problems were. Polluters and pollution itself, restoration efforts running out of money, and government funding being cut for national wildlife and environmental protections.

Then we talked to as many people as possible:

From our consultations and friends, we arrived at our solutions. We went to meetings, sat in on environmental classes and talked to experts. We started out with big ideas and thanks to the experts we were able to get information from, narrowed our topic to clean up efforts. Pollution itself is a big problem that has a lot of little sections. We were advised to try and tackle one at a time to make the whole pollution problem better. We also learned about using volunteers, college students, people that are passionate about this cause, and big non-profits for help in funding. (Because we know that the government in place will not be much of help).

We were also told to rely on what the state has set up in order to fun clean-up efforts. From here we came up with our three solutions that we feel that could be approved, and make a huge impact.

 

Author contributions:

Please delineate--in detail--who made what contributions to the process and to the finished proposal? Who took on which responsibilities in researching ideas, drafting language, etc.?

Together, we worked together on most parts of this proposal. Morgan had more resources of people that we were able to talk to and was able to generate majority of our consultations. Carly took the role of scheduling appointments with our topic coordinator and professors to make sure we were on the right path. We both did extensive research on our topic and fed off of each other on ideas for possible solutions. Carly worked on the language of the final proposal, created the operative clauses, and came up with the counter-arguments. Morgan worked on the perambulatory clauses and the costs and funding. A majority of this project was done in the presence of one another, making it easier for us to connect all of our pieces of the proposal together. We both worked very equally on this proposal. 

===FORMAL PROPOSAL===

The sections below should comprise your final proposal language, submitted for consideration by your peers and potential inclusion in the MSC Platform.

Preambulatory clauses

There is major pollution in the great lakes, and Michigan does not have specific enough laws, or the enforcement to make it stop.

WHEREAS....Companies and people are still dumping toxic chemicals and waste into the great lakes. Tens of billions of raw sewage end up in the great lakes each year from companies, independent sources, and storm runoff.  

https://greatlakes.org/campaigns/sewage-overflows/

WHEREAS....Run off is not being controlled from farms and buildings farther then 3 miles around the lakes. By only banning one type of fertilizer, the harmful algae bloom in the great lakes decreased by 40 percent. A number that can still decrease dramatically if more areas are affected by these regulations.

http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2015/06/14/great-lakes-leaders-agree-cut-phosphorus-runoff/71233702/

WHEREAS....There is no system of enforcing or catching polluters. As the law stands right now, “a branch of the federal government is entrusted with interpreting and enforcing the pollution punishments for the great lakes act.” Something that is nonexistent at this point.

http://www.greatlakeslaw.org/files/law_and_governance_of_the_great_lakes.pdf

WHEREAS....The punishments for dumping is very low if people do in fact get penalized. The punishment in the act today is up to $1,000.00 maximum and we want to higher this number to make people more scared to pollute.

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(l25mlxc3mbulsudj3spawygt))/mileg.aspx?page=getobject&objectname=mcl-750-110b&query=on&highlight=dumping

Operative clauses

These describe in detail, the solution you are proposing (not the problem itself; those should go in the "Whereas" clauses above).

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED....

1. We propose to double the punishment as stated in Act 328 of 1931, Section 750.110b to help reduce the amount of dumping that is done in the Great Lakes and around the state of Michigan. This new section would read, "Any person who discharges, dumps, deposits or throws or causes or permits the discharging, dumping, depositing or throwing of any garbage, except that which has passed through a disposal unit of a type approved by the United States public health service, or oil or rubbish from a vessel or watercraft of 25 or more feet in length into a river or inland lake within this state, or within 3 miles of the shoreline of any part of the great lakes or connecting waters thereof within this state, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 2 year or by a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or by both." 

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(l25mlxc3mbulsudj3spawygt))/mileg.aspx?page=getobject&objectname=mcl-750-110b&query=on&highlight=dumping

2. We propose to widen the range of non-allowed dumping around the Great Lakes to 10 miles. The new section would read, "Any person who discharges, dumps, deposits or throws or causes or permits the discharging, dumping, depositing or throwing of any garbage, except that which has passed through a disposal unit of a type approved by the United States public health service, or oil or rubbish from a vessel or watercraft of 25 or more feet in length into a river or inland lake within this state, or within 10 miles of the shoreline of any part of the great lakes or connecting waters thereof within this state, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 1 year or by a fine of not more than $1,000.00, or by both."

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(l25mlxc3mbulsudj3spawygt))/mileg.aspx?page=getobject&objectname=mcl-750-110b&query=on&highlight=dumping

3. In order to improve the quality of the Great Lakes, we suggest implementing a government appointed enforcing committee. This committee would meet twice a month and allow citizens complaints to regulate and prosecute anyone who commits the crimes as stated in Act 328 of 1931, Section 750.110b. This enforcing committee will consist of one Great Lakes expert, one state legislator, one member from the DEQ, one member from the Michigan Wetland Management District and one state deputy. This committee will be the driving force in solving the Great Lakes dumping issues. 

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(l25mlxc3mbulsudj3spawygt))/mileg.aspx?page=getobject&objectname=mcl-750-110b&query=on&highlight=dumping

Counter-arguments:

What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?

1. How would you select and pay for the enforcing committee? 

2. How do you justify doubling the penalty? 

3. How will you spread knowledge to the public about the increase of penalty? 

Costs and funding:

What will your proposal cost (in direct expenses, lost tax revenue, lost economic opportunity, and/or non-monetary costs)? How will you pay for your proposed legislation? Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from?  Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?  

We propose that the costs of the committee will be paid for by the increased fines in our solutions. Assuming the increased number of citizens being caught and fined for dumping around the Great Lakes, we propose a great amount of money being generated. This money will go back to fund the committee and the Police Department enforcers. 

References:

https://www.canadiangeographic.ca/article/pollution-great-lakes 

http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,4561,7-135-3312_4123-38928--,00.html

http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10364_52259_27415---,00.html

http://www.great-lakes.net/teach/pollution/water/water2.html

https://greatlakesenvironmentaljustice.wordpress.com/windsor/pollution/

 




 

 

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Total votes: 19