The questions raised in Kramer's email are good ones and do, in fact,
go to the heart of why Clean Water Action did not support the agreement
that resulted in the bills signed into law today. We are proud,
however, of the environmental campaign for water withdrawal and
diversion protections that Clean Water Action helped lead and believe
the new water withdrawal permitting rules, limited stream protections,
and the conditional legislative approval are steps in the right
Only a few of the 55 groups and businesses who supported the Great
Lakes, Great Michigan campaign for protections against large-scale
water withdrawals and diversions had an opportunity to weigh in on the
pros and cons of the water use agreement when the deal was struck
earlier this month. The agreement was proposed on the eve of what we
thought was likely to be a bipartisan victory in the state House for
strong protections, and then on to an uncertain future in the Senate.
Clean Water Action was one of the groups who weighed in on the
industry-backed proposal and we believed--and still do--that on balance
it was not a deal that we could support. That decision was based on
our 30-plus years experience working for water protections, and the
ongoing advice we received from the very best legal and policy minds on
the issue of water privitization. All thought that creating a legal
sanction for the diversion of Great Lakes waters by private industry
was unacceptable and posed a high risk for the future of maintaining
public control over our waters. Both the benefits of the new water
use rules, and the new diversion loophole, are now law. The question
for us today is what to do about enforcing the new rules, plugging the
big loophole, protecting the Great Lakes, and putting the public
firmly in control of our waters.
Clean Water Action
"Landmark" indeed and definately "first-of-its-kind" --a
landmark and first-ever historic sell-out of the Great Lakes is what
this new law is. When the environmental groups put out their press
releases a few weeks ago they forgot to mention that this wonderful
legislation they support actually gives legal permission for water
diversions as long as they are in containers of 5.7 gallons or less.
Why did the greens give corporations such a wonderful deal? Won't this
just lead to others wanting exemptions from being treated as
diversions? Who is going to enforce the new rules that did get into the
law? We hardly have any enforcement of laws on the books already. To
PIRGIM and the other groups like Clean Water Action can you explain how
this legislation is a good thing since corporations like Nestle will
now be able to legally take our water anyplace they want? Thanks.
February 28, 2006
Contact: Kelly Dardzinski,
PIRGIM (517) 664-2600
Jason Barbose (734) 662-6597
Signs Landmark Water-Use Protections
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
bringing long overdue protections to Michigan's
"From now on, anyone with a pipe and a pump can't just help
themselves to our most precious public resource," said PIRGIM Advocate
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
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
meetings with legislators, and collaborated with more than fifty
environmental, and religious organizations to advocate for strong
legislation. In addition, PIRGIM wrote and
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
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
- 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
- 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
imposed on new large water-bottling facilities are believed to be the
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
vulnerable inland waterways by requiring new water bottling companies
stronger protection standards and receive more public input than any
"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
water use," concluded Dardzinski. "It is
truly a historic moment for Michigan."
# # #
PIRGIM is a statewide, non-profit, non-partisan public
advocacy organization dedicated to preserving the environment,
consumers and promoting good government.
PIRGIM Field Organizer
103 E. Liberty St., Suite 202
Ann Arbor, MI 48104