The extraction, transportation, refining and consumption of fossil fuels all cause damage to water. With the million gallons of heavy tar sands that spilled into the Kalamazoo River; the refinery explosion in Superior, Wisconsin; or the continued risks of Line 5 and the push to expand Line 3, the Great Lakes has experienced considerable damage. The ongoing risks of fossil fuels exacerbate other issues, including urban flooding, pollution, crumbling infrastructure, and threats to our drinking water.
While systemic change is necessary for a paradigm shift in how we imagine and interact with water, there are things we can do at the individual and community levels to advocate for environmental justice, green practices, conservation, clean drinking water, reconstructed wetlands, reduced urban flooding, local food markets, decreased pollution, and renewable energy sources.
- Regularly cleaning the tops of storm drains on the street.
- Capturing water outside your home with a rain barrel or cistern.
- Planting trees and deep-rooted plants that soak up water. Organizations like the Center for Neighborhood Technology can help low-income families and neighborhoods with the cost of planting. Midwest Grows Green also has resources for building rain gardens, cultivating prairie plants, and transitioning to natural lawn care.
- Holding off on laundry, dishes and even showering during rainfall. To learn more, Friends of the Chicago River offers additional guidance for the safest rainy day behaviors. Click here to Become RainReady.
- Replacing impermeable surfaces like sidewalks and driveways with permeable pavement that absorbs rain and helps to recharge groundwater. In Chicago, you can propose and vote for projects like this to be implemented with your Alderperson’s neighborhood funds through participatory budgeting.
- Working with local leadership to install reservoirs and rain gardens.
- Attach a filter to the tap
- Install an under-the-sink system with multiple filters
- Invest in a large filter for water as it enters your house.
- Check to see if the service line into your home is made of lead. If so, then make sure that your filter is certified NSF/ANSI Standard 42 or 43.
Blacks in Green Freshwater Future FLOW for Water Little Village Environmental Justice Organization Milwaukee Water Commons Neighbors for Environmental Justice People for Community Recovery Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (P.E.R.R.O.) Sacred Keepers Sustainability Lab Southeast Environmental Task Force Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke Southeast Youth Alliance We the People of Detroit See here for a list of groups in various Great Lake states.