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 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.

About The Joyce Foundation

Joyce is a nonpartisan, private foundation that invests in evidence-informed public policies and strategies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region.

Related Content


Lake Michigan’s Hidden Threats

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.

Research Report

Toxic Threat in Federally Assisted Housing

New study reveals widespread exposure to Superfund sites, decades of environmental racism.


Cleaner, Healthier Transit Systems

Op-ed: COVID-19 should spark sustainable planning

Grantee Spotlight

COVID-19 Stories: Keeping the Lights On

The challenge is getting through the door. When the COVID-19 crisis hit, it posed a unique problem for accelerating efforts to make household energy more efficient and affordable.


Op-Ed: Water Must be Part of Our COVID Recovery

Pandemic creates opportunity for practical, achievable upgrades to our water systems.

Research Report

Achieving Equity in Lead Poisoning Prevention Policy Making

Across the United States, advocates and policy makers are creating policies to prevent lead exposure and poisoning.

Research Report

An Equitable Water Future: Opportunities for the Great Lakes Region

At the Joyce Foundation, we understand that our region’s vitality depends on clean water in our lakes and streams, in our homes, and where we work.

Research Report

Opportunities for Addressing Lead in Drinking Water in the Great Lakes

his report was prepared to provide funders in the Great Lakes region with an overview of critical issues surrounding lead in drinking water and specific strategies that could be used to address those issues and reduce lead exposure through drinking water.