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

This message responds specifically to Kramer, but I think there are many others who share his concerns about the water-use laws enacted today, so I’d like to take a moment to address them.


First, thank you for your obvious passion about this issue, and I am sorry that our response left you feeling personally attacked.  The battle to strengthen these bills has been extremely intense and left many frayed nerves, but it is important not to let reasoned discourse be a casualty of our deep feelings about our water, and we look forward to participating in future productive discussions in that spirit.


Regarding the substance of your concerns, PIRGIM was among the many groups that put a vast amount of resources into fighting for the strongest protections for our water that we could wrest from the legislative process.  Thanks to these collective efforts, Michigan has substantial new protections for our water that it did not have before, including (1) an explicit recognition that all Michigan’s water is a public resource, (2) a legislative approval requirement for non-bottled diversions, (3) a permitting process for new water bottlers that includes heightened protections against resource and property damage (with a public process for requiring improvements to repair measurable impacts), and (4) a requirement that all industries develop water conservation standards.  PIRGIM is proud to have helped win these new protections, which mark a substantial improvement over the bills as originally introduced.  


It is no secret – and, given the substantial opposition from powerful special interests, no surprise – that we did not get everything we were fighting for in this package (and that we got one thing we were fighting against).  What is less well known is that we successfully fought off an attempt to explicitly define water as a product.  In any event, the most important thing now is that we pull together and keep fighting toward our common goal: more, better protections for our water.  I look forward to working with all of you to make that happen.    


Kelly Dardzinski, Environmental Advocate

Public Interest Research Group In Michigan

119 Pere Marquette, Suite 3B
Lansing, MI 48912
(517) 664-2600



-----Original Message-----
From: owner-
enviro-mich@great-lakes.net [mailto:owner-enviro-mich@great-lakes.net] On Behalf Of Kramer
Tuesday, February 28, 2006 6:59 PM
Subject: 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.


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