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E-M:/ Bonds Addresses Massive Sewage Overflows



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  May 22, 2002

Contact:  James Clift, MEC,  517.487.9539
Cyndi Roper, Clean Water Action, 616.742.4084 or 314.393.7831

Legislature Takes First Step to Address Massive Sewage Overflows

Final $1 Billion Sewer Bond is a Step in the Right Direction

Lansing—After years of neglecting the billions of gallons of sewage overflowing into Michigan’s waterways each year, lawmakers have approved a ballot initiative that environmental groups say will lead to better protection of one of Michigan’s most precious and valued natural resources—water.

While the $1 billion sewer bond proposal will not eliminate the state’s sewage overflow problems, lawmakers have finally stepped up to the plate and taken action toward correcting the problem. The rest will be up to Michigan voters in November.

“This isn’t the cure-all, but Clean Water Action will work to educate voters about the need to support the ballot proposal,” said Cyndi Roper, Clean Water Action’s Michigan Director. “Many of our sewers are more than a century old, and they’re acting more like sieves than pipes. It’s ridiculous that we continue sending billions of gallons of raw sewage into our drinking water sources and recreational areas 30 years after Congress passed the Clean Water Act.”

Last fall, just prior to the Michigan legislature’s consideration of this bond package, Clean Water Action released a report that boosted the state’s previous estimate of 9 billion gallons of annual overflow to nearly 50 billion gallons.  The overflows are the primary cause of beach closings that have plagued Michigan shorelines for years.

“The Michigan Environmental Council believes sewage overflows are a symptom of a larger problem – urban sprawl. As the population has spread across the state, it has strained sewage infrastructure to the point of breaking, resulting in massive sewage discharges and impairment of our bathing beaches,” stated James Clift, Policy Director of MEC.  “This proposal begins addressing the issue by concentrating our efforts on fixing existing infrastructure, and using natural systems to avoid having to build new infrastructure in the future,” said Clift.