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E-M:/ groundwater dead zones multiplying



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Enviro-Mich message from Dave Dempsey <davemec@voyager.net>
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For Release						Contact:  James Clift, Dave Dempsey
Tuesday, August 8, 2000					517-487-9539

A SPREADING STAIN:
MICHIGAN'S MULTIPLYING GROUNDWATER DEAD ZONES

	A 1995 change in state law has created more than 30 potential contaminated
groundwater "dead zones" that prevent innocent landowners from using
groundwater supplies. The number will multiply unless the Legislature sets
standards, the Michigan Environmental Council said.  MEC raised the issue
in a new report, A Spreading Stain, released today. 

"The Legislature shifted the burden of pollution from those who caused it
to those who suffer its consequences," said MEC Policy Director James
Clift. "The creation of dead zones threatens to get out of hand. Unless the
law is changed to limit these dead zones, vast areas of contaminated
groundwater may simply be declared off-limits. That threatens public health
as well as private property rights."

	The 1995 law abolished the state's historic policy of requiring polluters
to clean up chemically contaminated groundwater. Instead, communities,
often at the request of the polluters, are now authorized by state law to
pass ordinances writing off contaminated groundwater supplies, saving
polluters millions of dollars in cleanup costs. In passing such ordinances,
communities are banning innocent landowners from using their own water
wells and forbidding them from drilling new wells into contaminated
aquifers.  Most disturbing, MEC said, are ordinances that would prevent
landowners from using the groundwater even when it is the sole source of
drinking water without requiring compensation. 

	"By condemning these groundwater supplies, the state is essentially guilty
of letting arsonists set fire to a community and then sending the
firefighters home while property owners are engulfed in flames," said Kathy
Aterno of Clean Water Action.

	MEC recommended the Legislature change the "dead zones" policy so that it
only applies only to small, specific areas adjacent to contamination
sources, rather than across whole townships or counties.  MEC also
recommended that dead zones be granted only to historically contaminated
areas, not areas that have been polluted since 1995.  MEC also recommends
that polluters getting a break through the policy pay property owners for
replacement drinking water and pay the state treasury damages for the lost
value of the contaminated aquifer.

	A list of the communities that have enacted, or are considering enacting
ordinances is attached.  Copies of the report can be obtained by contacting
MEC, or on line at http://www.mecprotects.org/zone.pdf.


APPENDIX 

COMMUNITY ORDINANCES
LIMITING USE OF CONTAMINATED GROUNDWATER

E=in effect
P=proposed

Cities/Townships/Villages	Status
Grand Haven	P
Rochester	P
Flint	P
Muskegon	E
Bay City	E
Battle Creek	E
Buchanan	E
L'Anse	P
Charlevoix	E
Mt. Pleasant	P
Roseville	E
Roscommon	P
Traverse City	E
Hamtramck	E
St. Joseph	E
Grand Rapids	P
Kingsford	P
Bellaire	E
Iron Mountain	E
Chatham (Alger County)	E
Central Lake Township (Antrim County)	P
Maple Ridge Township (Delta County)	E
Bedford Township (Calhoun County)	E
Sparta Township (Kent County)	P
Plainfield Township (Kent County)	P
Charlevoix Township (Charlevoix County)	P
Counties	Status
Cass/Van Buren Counties	P
Muskegon County	P
Berrien County	P
Genesee County	E
Allegan County	P
Kalamazoo County	E




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