Michigan Environment Watch

Michigan Environment Watch examines how public policy, industry, and other factors interact with the state’s trove of natural resources.


Enbridge to build $350M tunnel to protect Line 5 in Straits of Mackinac

October 3, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

Gov. Rick Snyder announces that he won’t seek shutdown of controversial oil pipeline, opting instead for an agreement with its owners, Enbridge Energy, to protect it with a tunnel.

Monarch butterflies need saving in Michigan. Fenton woman does her part.

October 3, 2018 | Timothy Jagielo

Climate change, loss of habitat and destruction of milkweed are plunging populations of monarch butterflies, which are vital to the ecosystem.

Michigan groundwater emergency threatens fish, drinking water, way of life

September 26, 2018 | Brett Walton

From PFAS to leaking septic tanks and farm runoff, Michigan’s most precious resource –  its fresh water – is under assault from a host of threats. A new report says the crisis doesn’t receive the urgency it deserves.

Lack of oversight allows leaky septic systems to befoul Michigan waters

September 26, 2018 | Brett Walton

One in three homes in Michigan is hooked up to septic systems, and the state is one of a few in the nation without laws governing residential units.

Dry wells, salty crops forced Ottawa County to confront groundwater crisis

September 26, 2018 | Brett Walton

Booming development declines aquifers, making them more polluted with dangerous nitrates. Even though Michigan is home to the Great Lakes, some communities are learning the wells can run dry.

Michigan PFAS by the numbers: How much is unsafe?

September 26, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

Confusion runs rampant about PFAS dangers. The federal government and states can’t agree on how much is unsafe for states. Here’s a primer on what’s known so far.

Forty years ago, Michigan had one of worst mass poisonings in U.S. history

September 26, 2018 | Brett Walton

A mixup in livestock supplements forever changed the course of history in Kalkaska County, sickening tens of thousands of cows and causing health complications to humans that may still linger.

Online broadcast to discuss Michigan groundwater emergency on Oct. 1

September 26, 2018 | Bridge Staff

Bridge and its partners, Circle of Blue and Detroit Public Television, will host an interactive broadcast to discuss pollution threats that affect millions worldwide.

A slow-moving ‘disaster’ is threatening Lake Superior and way of life

September 18, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

The Buffalo Reef in the Keweenaw Peninsula teems with lake trout and whitefish. But a mountain of waste from a closed mine is slowly seeping into the water, prompting a desperate search for a solution.

Slideshow: In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, mining waste threatens Buffalo Reef

September 18, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

View photos from the past and present showing how waste from a closed mine is smothering key fish spawning grounds in Lake Superior’s Keweenaw Bay.

Mining waste and growing wetlands mean more mercury in fish in Upper Peninsula

September 18, 2018 | Eric Freedman

A Michigan Tech researcher says studies show humans are at risk because of high levels of the toxic metal in inland Great Lakes fish.

Michigan environment roundup: Could Michigan voters decide Line 5’s fate?

September 18, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

This week’s can’t-miss journalism about Michigan’s natural resources.

Schuette goes to bat for ExxonMobil; brief calls climate change ‘unsettled science’

September 4, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

Last month, the Michigan attorney general signed a court filing in support of energy giant that claims debate about global warming is still ‘raging’ among scientists. Spoiler alert: It’s not.

Climate change brings risks, opportunity to ‘Pure Michigan’

September 4, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

A climate scientist sees reason for optimism as Michigan and the world grapples with a hotter, more extreme climate.

How U-M data ‘nerds’ helped Flint find homes with dangerous lead pipes

September 4, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

University of Michigan researchers developed an algorithm that has played an important role in Flint’s efforts to replace hazardous lead service lines. It could help other Michigan cities better locate older, compromised pipes.

How long can Great Lakes fend off thirsty world from water diversions?

September 4, 2018 | Ron Seeley

A 2008 interstate compact prevents distant dry places from siphoning off Great Lakes water. But will the agreement hold up in the face of growing demand?

Michigan environment roundup: Rock stacking tourists harm Tahquamenon Falls

September 4, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

This week’s can’t-miss journalism about Michigan’s natural resources.

In West Michigan, PFAS contamination leaves fruits and veggies to wither

August 22, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

Danger to the groundwater in the town of Parchment could mean trouble to vegetable gardens, prompting some to wonder if their soil is permanently damaged.

Lake Erie’s algae bloom is growing again after paralyzing Toledo water system

August 22, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

Fueled by farm runoff, harmful algal blooms continue to grow in Western Lake Erie, and climate change may make them even more intense. An expert explains the problem and how it could be addressed.

Michigan environment roundup: Recyclers scramble as China halts plastic, paper imports

August 22, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

This week’s can’t-miss journalism about Michigan’s natural resources.