From: gov_office@MICHIGAN.GOV [mailto:gov_office@MICHIGAN.GOV]
Sent: Wednesday, May 25, 2005 4:07 PM
Subject: Groundwater withdrawal regulation
State to Regulate Some Groundwater Withdrawals; Files Friend of the Court Brief in Bottled Water Litigation
LANSING ? Governor Jennifer M. Granholm and Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Director Steven E. Chester today announced that the state will begin the process of regulating any groundwater withdrawal that would change the size of a lake, stream or river.
Granholm asked the DEQ to write rules requiring permits for any withdrawal that will ?create, enlarge or diminish? an inland lake or stream. Her request for the new rules follows a DEQ brief filed with the Michigan Court of Appeals, in which the department reversed policies established by previous administrations, saying that state law requires a permit for any activity that will change the size of a surface body of water.
?No one has sole ownership of the state?s water ? it belongs to all of us,? Granholm said. ?Today?s action takes another step toward protecting Michigan?s water, but it is only the first step. The state must have a comprehensive regulatory framework in place to truly safeguard this most precious resource.? Granholm stressed that while rules regulating groundwater withdrawals are important, without a comprehensive framework, there is no way to consistently enforce management of overall water use in Michigan.
?Michigan needs a comprehensive Water Legacy Act to protect all of our waters,? Granholm said. ?I again urge the Legislature to take up the Act I presented ? protection of our resources can?t wait.?
Earlier this week, the DEQ filed a ?friend of court? brief in Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation v Nestle Water?s North America which is currently pending before the Michigan Court of Appeals. The state?s brief emphasizes the importance of protecting Michigan?s precious water resources for the benefit of citizens and future generations across the state.
In the brief, the DEQ reverses the policy of the previous administration that stated Nestle did not need to apply for a permit for water withdrawal under Part 301 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act. DEQ states that Part 301 of the state Environmental Code prohibits any activity that may create, enlarge or diminish an inland lake or stream unless the department first issues a permit authorizing the activity. The DEQ also agreed with Mecosta County Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Root?s decision that Nestle should have applied for and obtained a permit for its groundwater extraction activities, since these activities had the potential to adversely affect surface water bodies.
The brief also asserts that while property owners have a right to use water as they see fit, the nature and extent of this use must be held to a reasonable standard. The state believes that the Michigan Environmental Protection Act should focus this standard at local levels as well as statewide levels.
?Michigan is blessed to be surrounded by such a vast water system, but that system remains vulnerable,? said Director Chester. ?We all share a role in using our resources responsibly and ensuring that we are not causing long term damage to the system.?
Nestle was ordered to stop withdrawing groundwater from wells located near Big Rapids where it was being bottled under the Ice Mountain Spring Water brand.
To view the friend of the court brief, go to www.mi.gov/deq and click on ?water.?
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