May 21, 2008
Cyndi Roper, Clean Water Action: 517-490-1394
Dr. Bryan Burroughs, Trout Unlimited: 616-460-0477
Water legislation approved this evening by the Michigan House of
Representatives sets the stage for a showdown in the House over protection of
Four bills in the House package passed this evening; leaving three of
the most important bills for a vote at a later date. Members of the Great Lakes, Great
“The House hasn’t arrived on the scene to protect the
The House action comes in the wake of the Michigan Senate’s passage of substandard rules last week. The Senate’s rules would allow 3 percent or more of trout to be killed due to water withdrawals, and reduce some streamflows more than 25 percent with no permit required.
The Senate and House versions mirror one another in several aspects
– both largely exempt agricultural irrigation operations from needing
permits, and both include passage of the Great Lakes Compact, an eight-state
agreement providing minimum protections against large-scale water diversions.
The Compact must be approved by all eight states and Congress before it will
The additional state-level laws are necessary as a backstop in case the Compact is not approved by Congress, and also to protect Michigan-specific interests like world-class coldwater trout streams, a water-dependent agricultural industry, and more than 5 million residents who depend on groundwater for drinking.
“The Compact is a framework, but we’re putting our own stewardship rules on that frame,” said Hugh McDiarmid Jr., of the Michigan Environmental Council. “As the only state entirely within the Great Lakes basin, Michigan has the most to gain from strong water protections and the most to lose from weak ones.”
The Lakes contain nearly 20 percent of the world’s fresh surface
water and are connected to the countless brooks, streams, ponds, swamps,
creeks, lakes and groundwater that pulse through