February 28, 2006
Contact: Kelly Dardzinski, PIRGIM (517) 664-2600
Jason Barbose (734) 662-6597
Governor Signs Landmark Water-Use Protections Into Law
First-of-its-kind Legislation is Culmination of 15-month Campaign
LANSING – Governor Granholm, joined by PIRGIM and other members of Michigan's environmental community, signed a landmark package of water-use bills today, bringing long overdue protections to Michigan's waters.
"From now on, anyone with a pipe and a pump can't just help themselves to our most precious public resource," said PIRGIM Advocate Kelly Dardzinski. "For the first time, we have a set of laws in place to protect our water from exploitation. We thank the Governor and legislators like Representative Jack Brandenburg and Senator Patty Birkholz who came together to make this happen, for all of us and for future generations."
Throughout the campaign, PIRGIM talked with over 54,000 Michiganders, delivered nearly 9,000 postcards to legislators, held over 100 meetings with legislators, and collaborated with more than fifty business, environmental, and religious organizations to advocate for strong legislation. In addition, PIRGIM wrote and distributed the report "Left Out to Dry," a case study of how Michigan's lax water use laws harmed citizens and natural resources.
"Water use in Michigan was a free-for-all, and citizens and our natural resources were paying the price," said Dardzinski. "These laws contain common-sense standards to prevent overuse and abuse of Michigan's water and the Great Lakes."
The final bill package includes significant protections, such as:
- An immediate prohibition against new large-scale water withdrawals that cause adverse resource impacts to trout streams. This prohibition will expand to protect all Michigan's waters in two years.
- A permit requirement for new large-scale water withdrawals.
- An additional, more stringent permit requirement for new large water-bottling projects, including a requirement that the projects include plans to remedy any measurable impacts.
- A legislative approval requirement for water diversion projects if the current Michigan law against diversions is overturned.
- A requirement that each sector of industry develop water conservation standards.
Although the legislation exempts water in containers smaller than 5.7 gallons from being considered a diversion and thus subject to legislative approval, the resource-protection and public input requirements imposed on new large water-bottling facilities are believed to be the toughest of their kind in the nation. While PIRGIM believes that any water leaving the Great Lakes basin should receive legislative approval, these laws will provide real, immediate protections for vulnerable inland waterways by requiring new water bottling companies to meet stronger protection standards and receive more public input than any other user.
"Thanks to this legislation, special interests will no longer be able to treat Michigan's water as their own private wells, and Michigan's residents and resources will no longer have to foot the bill for irresponsible water use," concluded Dardzinski. "It is truly a historic moment for Michigan."
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PIRGIM is a statewide, non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organization dedicated to preserving the environment, protecting consumers and promoting good government.--
PIRGIM Field Organizer
103 E. Liberty St., Suite 202
Ann Arbor, MI 48104