WasteWatch 2024: Michigan

The state of Michigan shares a coast with 4 out of the 5 great lakes, extending all the way up the state’s northern peninsula. The shoreline spans Lake Superior, the largest body of freshwater in the world. While Michigan’s diverse landscape is home to rich wildlife and an array of outdoor activities, the state continues to face environmental challenges including drinking water quality related to PFAS and lead contamination, air quality, solid waste management and others. These challenges have resulted in approximately 7,300 toxic sites that require remediation.


Here is what you need to know

The basics:
– Life expectancy – 76, 36th in the country
– Population – 10.05M
– Land area of 56,591.0 square miles and water area of 40,097.0 square miles
– The state has over 11,000 inland lakes, over 300 rivers, 242 streams, and
more freshwater shoreline than any other state.


Environmental Challenges:
– PFAS Contamination
– Microplastics
– Groundwater depletion and contamination
– Algal Blooms
– TCE (trichloroethylene)


Recent News in Michigan, see comments for more details:
– In Michigan, 1.5 million residents are exposed to drinking water contaminated
with PFAS, affecting 11,300 sites across the state (Michigan State University,
Dec. 2023)
– During this past summer, harmful algal blooms (HABs) were found in 80
bodies of water in 38/83 counties. Breathing or consuming water with HAB
toxins can result in symptoms such as vomiting, fever, and skin rashes.
(WDIV-Detroit, August. 2023)
– As many as half of the 300 rivers and streams and 12 beaches in Michigan are
contaminated with e.coli. (Michigan State University, Sept. 2023)
-Over a decade ago, state officials estimated that 10% of Michigan’s 1.3 million
septic tanks failed, causing 9.4 billion gallons of untreated wastewater to flow
annually into the environment. (Bridge Michigan, May. 2013) & (Great Lakes
Now, May. 2023)


Environmental journalists and reporters to follow:
Teresa Homsi
Sheri McWhirter
Steve Neavling


Organizations advocating for the environment and water:
– Clean Water Public Advocates
Clean Water Action
Great Lakes Commission
Michigan Nature Association


Next Steps:
Michigan needs officials committed to prioritizing the necessity to regulate septic systems statewide and prevent raw sewage dumping. This action is crucial to combat algal bloom growth, as well as e.coli and other waterborne viruses in Michigan’s water. Focusing on providing clean water for all its residents will involve not only imposing regulations, but also adopting end-of-the-line technologies to eliminate contaminants such as PFAS, toxins, and bacteria effectively.