Student Group's Project Focuses on Flint

Can label design by NMU student Max Bender
Can label design by NMU student Max Bender

The NMU Students for Sustainability organization plans to send nearly 8,000 cans of water to Flint in the near future, with support from Blackrocks Brewery and Griffin Beverage Company. The project and a series of three campus presentations scheduled this week align with the group’s chosen theme for this year: water quality.

“It’s a big issue that people have been talking about since the Flint crisis surfaced and residents there still need water,” said NMU student Hannah Poisson-Smith. “We thought of driving a load of bottled water down there, but then tried to figure out how we might help in a more sustainable way.”

Poisson-Smith said a visit to the Blackrocks Brewery canning facility sparked the idea of sending water downstate in recyclable cans, rather than plastic bottles. She said Blackrocks agreed to supply the water and labor.

“While we have completed the labels and have the support from the distribution company, food bank and brewing company, we are waiting to hear back from the USDA for the final green light on water quality,” Poisson-Smith said. “Hopefully the project will be underway soon.”

Students for Sustainability is responsible for the cans and labels. The group has been holding fundraisers to pay for that portion. A student employee in NMU Marketing and Communications designed the label.

“Driving the water down there still wasn’t the most sustainable plan,” Poisson-Smith added. “Griffin Beverage brings trucks to Flint regularly and they agreed to transport it there for us free of charge. But we still needed someone in Flint to accept the delivery and distribute the water where it’s needed and we wanted to make sure it was free for residents. The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan is going to help with that. Everything is panning out, but we ran into some snags here and there and really learned a lot through this whole process.”

Students for Sustainability will host a water quality presentation series. It begins on Monday, April 11. Curt Goodman, ‎water/wastewater superintendent for the City of Marquette, will discuss the city’s wastewater treatment facility at 5 p.m. in 1318 Jamrich. On Tuesday, NMU students will present facts about Lake Superior at 6 p.m. in 3801 West Science. The series wraps up Wednesday with Chuck Thomas, district supervisor for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, addressing water quality in the Upper Peninsula at 5 p.m. in 3801 West Science. 

For more information, contact Poisson-Smith at 

Prepared By
Kristi Evans
News Director