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E-M:/ Report Warns of Water 'Gold Rush'

News Release

Wednesday, October 5, 2005                 
More information:
Cyndi Roper

Report Warns Of Michigan Water ‘Gold Rush’
Urges Protections Against Privatizing Great Lakes Waters

 LANSING, MI—A new report released today by Clean Water Action documents and underscores the huge stake for Michigan consumers and residents in the outcome of a legislative debate over who owns Great Lakes waters. 

The report, “Don’t Privatize the Water:  Keeping Michigan’s Waters in Public Hands”, outlines how legal loopholes, government inaction and public relations spin are pushing Michigan toward ceding public water resources to private interests.  The report comes as Michigan lawmakers, under intense public pressure to act,  prepare in the coming weeks to introduce new water use legislation.

“There is a huge difference between using water to make a product and selling water as a product,” said Dave Dempsey, Clean Water Action Great Lakes Policy Advisor.  “It’s the difference between using Michigan soil to grow crops and mining and selling the soil itself.  The question Michigan lawmakers will decide in the coming weeks is: will Michigan treat water as just another commodity like oil and sell this public resource to the highest bidder?  We hope this report sheds new light on how we got to where we are and the stark choices we face in protecting the Great Lakes.”

 The report details as never before what’s at stake for Michigan in the coming days as lawmakers take up landmark new legislation to control water use.

 Michigan is ominously close to ceding control of its public water resources to private interests, destroying its own legal defenses against the private capture and sale of Great Lakes basin water...,” the report warns.

 The report:

  • Explains how Michigan’s failure to adopt strict water rules could result in the equivalent of the California gold rush for water speculators;
  • Outlines the legal, policy and environmental issues involved in commercializing Great Lakes waters;
  • Calls on Michigan and other Great Lakes states and provinces to halt new and increased private water projects;
  • Urges changes in the new proposed Great Lakes Annex 2001 to close a giant loophole that will allow water diversions;
  • Recommends enactment of water conservation legislation;
  • Proposes a Traditional Water Use Protection Act to distinguish water used for agriculture, manufacturing and drinking from the sale of water as a product.

 A full text of the report can be seen at:  http://cleanwateraction.org/mi/index.htm.

 Clean Water Action, with 170,000 Michigan members, is a national citizens' organization working for clean, safe and affordable water, prevention of health-threatening pollution, creation of environmentally-safe jobs and businesses, and empowerment of people to make democracy work.  Offices are in East Lansing, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor and Clinton Township.

David Holtz
Michigan Director
Clean Water Action
Clean Water Fund
517-203-0754 East Lansing
313-300-4454 cell

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