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Re: E-M:/ $1 billion for water?

Enviro-Mich message from Cyndi Roper <croper@cleanwater.org>

I agree with Dave that the debate over the sewer bond ballot language needs
more attention. Clean Water Action is very commitment to correcting the state's
sewer overflow problems (see "Wasting Michigan's Water Wasteland" sewage
overflow report in the Michigan section of our website at
www.cleanwateraction.org), and we hope to support the bond initiative in
November. HOWEVER, we are currently working -- along with MEC -- to ensure that
key concerns are addressed immediately. 

Volume Reduction
The ballot proposal must include access to funds earmarked for reducing the
volume of water entering the state's sewer (and stormwater) systems which, in
essence, creates sewer system capacity. Currently, state funding assistance is
available for upgrading and repairing sewer systems, but there is no funding
available to communities that want to divert water from their systems. As a
result, most system repairs and upgrades are based on capacity assumptions that
maintain the status quo thus requiring bigger and bigger and bigger
wastewater/stormwater pipes and treatment facilities.

Numerous "soft path" approaches exist which manage rain/snow very near to the
place where it falls. Some examples include:

Rooftop gardens
Sidewalk storage
Vegetated swales, buffers and strips; tree preservation
Roof leader disconnection
Rain barrels and cisterns
Permeable pavement
Rain gardens and bioretention

These techniques are beginning to gain acceptance in communities throughout the
U.S. (including some in Michigan I'm learning) but they must be implemented on
a much larger scale if the public is to avoid continually throwing money "down
the drain" into bigger and bigger sewer systems.  

Further, if communities would like to pursue footing drain disconnection
programs (to prevent the conveyance of stormwater into household sewer pipes),
they cannot access state funds to assist them. We would like to see bond
proceeds made available to assist with this "capacity creating" choice.

Septic Systems
Another key sewer bond debate has centered around what to do about the state's
massive number of failed or failing septic systems. Our view is that the status
quo of installing sewers as the virtual panacea for these problems is often
misguided. Clean Water Action is concerned that the bond could become the
"Sprawl for All" package if lawmakers include funding incentives to abandon
septic systems in favor of sewers, which will encourage more intensive and
expanded development in many communities throughout the state. If such
development is to occur, let those who will reap the profits figure out how to
pay ALL of the costs associated with that development.


Cyndi Roper, Michigan Director
Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund
1345 Monroe Ave., NW, Suite 216
Grand Rapids, MI  49505

At 08:21 PM 4/25/2002 -0400, Dave Dempsey wrote:
>Enviro-Mich message from "Dave Dempsey" <davemec@voyager.net>
>Michigan voters would get to decide whether the state should borrow $1
>billion by selling bonds to fix the state's decaying sewer systems, under
>legislation approved Thursday by the state House.
>This legislation deserves a lot more attention outside of Lansing than it is
>ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
>and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at
>Postings to:  enviro-mich@great-lakes.net      For info, send email to
>majordomo@great-lakes.net  with a one-line message body of  "info enviro-mich"

ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at

Postings to:  enviro-mich@great-lakes.net      For info, send email to
majordomo@great-lakes.net  with a one-line message body of  "info enviro-mich"