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 Lakes in Michigan, including this spot on Orchard Lake, are annually monitored by volunteers throughout the summer.

Lakes in Michigan, including this spot on Orchard Lake, are annually monitored by volunteers throughout the summer.

File photo by Edward Osinski

One Water hits the road to promote improved infrastructure

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published June 10, 2019


OAKLAND COUNTY — Each time we pour a glass of water from our tap or run our toothbrush underneath or even fill up the kiddie pool, all we see is something clear and refreshing.

But beneath the spigot, Michigan’s water infrastructure is crumbling and the inland lakes we enjoy are being polluted — that’s the part we as consumers don’t often see.

Well, it’s time to see.

To bring awareness to the importance of Michigan’s natural water resources, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, the Great Lakes Water Authority and the Freshwater Forum at the Cranbrook Institute of Science joined together to host public events last week in celebration of Great Lakes and Fresh Water Week June 1-9. They call themselves One Water — a regional campaign to create greater public awareness of the risks facing interrelated drinking water, wastewater and stormwater systems in southeast Michigan.

The One Water website is packed with information, data and helpful tips residents can use to monitor and protect water systems in their own neighborhood. The motto of One Water is “keep it fresh, keep it flowing.”

At home, residents are encouraged to keep it fresh by keeping storm drains clear of garbage and other debris, as well as contaminants like pet waste and lawn chemicals that could run off into storm drains after a heavy rain, and to keep it flowing by keeping fats and oils out of drains, and disposing just the “three Ps” in toilets — that’s pee, poop and paper.

“The goal of One Water is to shed a little light on the immense systems, expertise and effort of devoted water professionals throughout southeast Michigan,” Trevor Layton, the communications specialist for SEMCOG, said in an email. “There are also a few things we all can do, like keeping cooking grease and ‘flushable’ wipes out of the sewer, to keep our water systems flowing.”

Pitching in to that informational effort is Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash, who’s planned a library discussion series called “Water Infrastructure 101 — What You Need to Know and Beyond” throughout the summer and into the fall across the county. The first one was hosted at the Addison Township Public Library, in Leonard.

“I am pleased to join with many stakeholders from across Michigan to celebrate Great Lakes and Fresh Water Week, as it perfectly complements my office’s ongoing educational initiatives,” Nash said in a press release. “Protecting our freshwater resources is the focus of the Water Resources Commissioner’s Office. We work with communities across the county and region, focusing on protecting our inland lakes and Great Lakes from pollution from stormwater runoff and sanitary sewer spills to protecting our drinking water resources.”

During these discussions, participants will have the chance to ask Nash questions about everything from lakes and water quality to aging water infrastructure, employment opportunities and the water Residential Assistance Program.

Infrastructure library discussions are scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, June 20, at the West Bloomfield Township Public Library, 4600 Walnut Lake Road; 6:30 p.m. Monday, July 15, at the Bloomfield Township Public Library, 1099 Lone Pine Road; and 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, at the Ferndale Area District Library, 222 E. Nine Mile Road. Other dates will be planned for the fall in Pontiac, Madison Heights and Southfield.

For more information about One Water, visit