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GLIN==> Granholm Calls for Comprehensive Water Use Statute



> FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
> December 16, 2003
>
> Contact:   Patricia Spitzley
> (517) 241-7397
>
> Granholm Calls for Comprehensive Water Use Statute; DEQ, DLEG Directors
> File Amicus Brief on Behalf of Mecosta County Workers
>
> Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today called for a comprehensive water
> withdrawal and water use statute in Michigan and promised to present a
> legislative package to create one to the Michigan Legislature early next
> year.  The Nestle case underscores the critical need for the state to
> monitor and regulate certain categories of groundwater withdrawals,
> Granholm said.
> The directors of the Michigan Departments of Environmental Quality
> (DEQ) and Labor and Economic Growth (DLEG) have asked the Attorney
> General to file an Amicus Brief with the Michigan Court of Appeals
> requesting a partial and conditional stay of the Mecosta Circuit Court
> decision requiring Nestle Corporation to cease its operations today.
>
> While DEQ and DLEG have not taken positions on the merits of the case
> in the amicus brief filed today, the agencies are asking the Court of
> Appeals to maintain the status quo at the facility until a ruling on the
> merits is made.
>
> "With its opinion, the court has provided guidance on DEQ's ability to
> issue permits," said Chester.  "The court suggests that DEQ had the
> statutory ability to issue a permit in this case.  By filing this
> amicus, the state is asking for the time to review those changes and
> complete the development of a comprehensive standard on groundwater
> withdrawals."
>
> Director Chester says Governor Granholm believes that with 20 percent
> of the world's fresh water supply within our reach, the state has a
> moral and legal obligation to ensure that we are the best possible
> stewards of the extraordinary resource.
>
> Granholm has long said that Michigan needs a comprehensive water use
> strategy.  She is committed to working with all stakeholders to develop
> legislation to govern the use and withdrawal of groundwater and surface
> water in the state.  In the comprehensive package she will present in
> the coming weeks, the Governor will implement necessary administrative
> changes to address withdrawals like the Perrier case in the future, and
> ask the Legislature to develop a permitting program for such
> withdrawals.
>
> If a stay is granted, the DEQ has committed to provide increased water
> quantity monitoring around the area to determine if an impact is
> occurring, and will not allow Nestle to pump more than 250 gallons per
> minute, which is 150 gallons per minute less than their permit currently
> allows.
>
> DELG Director David Hollister also supports the stay as it will prevent
> the laying off of approximately 120 workers right before the Christmas
> Holiday.  "Nestle Corporation has indicated quite clearly that it will
> have to lay off approximately 120 workers without pay by January 31,
> 2004, if they shut down pumping at the "Sanctuary Springs," said David
> Hollister, DLEG Director.  "A partial stay will provide the plant
> workers and families some economic stability while putting in place
> reasonable protective measures to limit the potential for any
> significant environmental harm during the appeal process."
>
> DEQ data is showing water levels in the area at an all time high.  Both
> agencies believe a stay is appropriate because it allows time for the
> Governor to craft a comprehensive region-wide water withdrawal policy
> that will provide clear regulatory direction for those seeking to use
> Michigan's ground and surface water resources in this and future
> instances.
>  "This issue has captured the attention of the public and private
> sectors, and underscores the need for a comprehensive water use plan,
> including legislation which Governor Granholm will be unveiling in early
> 2004.
>
> #####

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