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Re: E-M:/ News Release: Governor Signs Landmark Water-Use Protections Into Law



For raising criticism and questions about this water "deal" PIRGIM launches a personal attack accusing the critic of "hysteria".  How utterly Bush of PIRGIM.  When PIRGIM and other groups were asking for our support for their campaign they were singing a different tune.  I went back and researched emails I received from the campaign and found this web site, www.greatlakesgreatmichigan.org.  PIRGIM is listed as supporting these amendments:

1) Protect against diversions by requiring legislative approval for diversions outside of the Great Lakes basin,

2) Protect all of our natural resources from later use impacts by expanding protections to include private property and habitats without fish populations, and

3) Ensure water conservation by requiring water users to self-certify that they are following generally accepted water management practices.

Based on what I have read about the legislation that was actually supported by the environmental groups, including PIRGIM, it appears that #1 or #2 were not accomplished.  So why take credit for a "landmark" and "historic" victory?  I don't know about #3 so that may be the victory. 

On that sames web site there is a newspaper ad from the campaign that asks the public to support the campaign and "stop large corporations...from sending water to other states and far away places."  But isn't that exactly what this "victory" is doing with the exemption for large corporations from the diversion rules?

I, for one, will think twice before believing again anything these groups are saying. 



On 2/28/06, Jason Barbose < jason@pirgim.org> wrote:
PLEASE read the press release before commenting.  we did not fail to mention that the legislation does not require diversions in containers less than 5.7 gallons to get legislative approval.  In fact, we plainly say that this is a shortcoming of the package.  Furthermore, keep in mind that this package forces water bottling companies to meet stronger resource protection standards than any other kind of withdrawal.

p.s. I wholeheartedly support a calm, substantive, and measured debate of this issue.  On the other hand, accusations and hysteria tend to accomplish very little, ultimately undermining what may be legitimate concerns of yours.


Kramer wrote:
"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.

Kramer

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."
 
# # #
 
PIRGIM is a statewide, non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organization dedicated to preserving the environment, protecting consumers and promoting good government.
-- 
Jason Barbose
PIRGIM Field Organizer

103 E. Liberty St., Suite 202
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
734.662.6597
jason@pirgim.org