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E-M:/ Drain Code Hearings

Enviro-Mich message from juliemec@acd.net (Julie Stoneman)

***Public Hearings Scheduled for Drain Code Revisions*****

 Representative Howard Wetters, D-Kawkawlin, has scheduled
five field hearings to gather input on revisions to the 40 year
old Michigan Drain Code.   His bill, HB 4337, is one of three
introduced in the legislature; Rep. Mike Green, R-Mayville,
and Sen. Joel Gougeon, R-Bay City,  also introduced HB 4174
and SB 122 respectively.   Wetters will control the debate in
the Democrat controlled House, Gougeon the debate in the
Republican Senate.

The field hearings on Wetters' HB 4337 gives the conservation
and environmental community a great opportunity to call for
much needed reform.   A new draft of HB 4337 is under preparation,
but it will likely fall short of the changes needed to bring the
code into the 21st century of watershed management and
planning.   Proposed revisions continue to focus on engineered
draining as the only means of managing water quantity instead
of low cost, low tech alternatives.

*****Drain Code Public Hearings*****

Thursday, October 16, 1997 --   6:00 - 7:00PM
                                                  Vienna Township Hall
                                                  3400 W. Vienna Rd.
                                                  Clio, MI  48420
                                                  Hosted by Rep. Bogardus

Monday, October 20, 1997 --     6:30 - 7:30PM
                                                     Frenchtown Township Hall
                                                    2744 Vivian Rd.
                                                    Monroe, MI  48162
                                                    Hosted by Rep. Owen

Friday, October 24, 1997 --        Noon - 1:00PM
                                                    Sanilac County
Conference Room
                                                     37 Austin St
                                                    Sandusky, MI  48471
                                                    Hosted by Rep. Rhead

Friday, November 7, 1997 --     Noon - 1:00PM
                                                  Kalamazoo County
                                                   201 W. Kalamazoo, 2nd Floor
                                                   Kalamazoo, MI  49007
                                                   Hosted by Rep. LaForge

Monday, November 10, 1997 --    6:00 - 7:00PM
                                                     Masonic Hall
                                                      514 N. New St
                                                      Stanton, MI  48888
                                                      Hosted by Rep. DeVuyst

Critical provisions that must be part of the revision:

 *      A framework for watershed planning and management
must be integrated into the code.  The code should also
be reformed to  encourage and promote action by citizens
and individuals to protect or restore degraded riparian habitat.

*       Drain commissioners must be held legally accountable for
environmental protection.

*       Drain improvements--which can include relocating, widening,
deepening, straightening, tiling or extending a drain--are activities
that can have significant environmental and natural resource
impacts and must be subject to environmental rules and  standards.

*       Criteria for determining the necessity and practicality of
new  drains or major drain improvements must require evaluation
of   alternative techniques to conserve, allocate, and use the
waters including storage and retention of drainage waters as
well as the overall environmental impact.   Requirements
should be in place to avoid, minimize, or mitigate impacts
on aquatic and terrestrial resources.

*       Undeveloped public lands or privately held nature
preserves and lands with permanent conservation easements
maintained for the  protection of wildlife and recreation
do not benefit from drainage.   These lands should not be
drained or assessed for drainage without specific permission
from the landowners.

*       Training  and  education  programs in watershed management
and alternative measures    to managing water quantity
must be provided for drain commissioners once elected
to office.   The Departments  of Agriculture, Environmental Quality
and Natural Resources  should be charged with  developing
a  training manual designed to allow for the  best
management practices for watershed quality.

*       New development should have the burden of showing
that there will be no significant impact on water quality and
quantity or need for drain improvements to an existing
drain.  If unable to show, new development should be
assessed the cost of any needed drain work.

Contact Julie at  juliemec@acd.net or 517-487-9539.

Julie Stoneman
Director of Land Programs
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette Dr., Suite 2A
Lansing, MI  48912
ph:     517-487-9539
fax:    517-487-9541
email:  juliemec@acd.net

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