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Lake Michigan’s Hidden Threats


Reducing hidden threats to Lake Michigan was the focus of Crain’s Forum this month, featuring op-ed columns by Elizabeth Cisar, co-director of the Joyce Foundation’s Environment Program, and several Joyce grantees who focus on water issues.

Cisar’s op-ed, found here, describes how cancelling large events due to the COVID-19 pandemic has undermined revenues that utilities need to keep water flowing and affordable. She calls for federal intervention to shore up resources for fixing pipelines and other infrastructure, and assuring equitable access to the vital resource.

Olga Bautista, community planning manager at the Alliance for the Great Lakes, writes about Chicago needing to muster the political will to enact public health protections along the Calumet River on the city’s Southeast Side. Her column can be found here.

The president of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, Joel Brammeier, applauds renewed funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and progress on a project to keep Asian Carp out of the lakes. But he writes of the need to establish new goals to protect the lakes in a more comprehensive way.

Josh Ellis, vice president of the Metropolitan Planning Council, argues for the state of Illinois to take more action to prevent water shut-offs by public and private utilities until the pandemic abates. The town one lives in and the fiscal constraints of its utility should not dictate whether one has drinking water during the crisis, he says.

Chicago needs stronger drinking water standards, writes Jeremy Orr, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Safe Water Initiative. He explains why the NRDC filed suit to reverse a federal rule exposing yet another generation to lead pipes and contaminated water.

The Foundation is a sponsor of Crain’s Forum, a product of Crain’s Chicago Business. A full roster of its monthly, deep-dive projects can be found here.