DEQ chief:Preventing water diversion is
Bay Area Times
Bay-area residents need to make their voices heard on
efforts to protect Michigan's water for future generations,
state Department of Environmental Quality Director Steven
E. Chester said Tuesday in Bay County.
Chester was in town for a routine visit with local staff
members from the DEQ office in Bay City. He said two initiatives
to protect waters in the state from large withdrawals
- the Michigan Water Legacy Act and the Great Lakes Charter
Annex - are the DEQ's top legislative priorities this
The Michigan Water Legacy Act, now working its way through
the Legislature in Lansing, would regulate large withdrawals
of surface and groundwater in the state to guard against
harmful impacts to lakes and streams.
The Great Lakes Charter Annex, also known as Annex 2001,
is an international proposal affecting Michigan and other
Great Lakes states. Annex 2001 would govern large water
withdrawals in and outside the Great Lakes basin, establishing
water management and conservation standards. The Water
Legacy Act is a complement to Annex 2001; the international
proposal will ultimately require Congressional approval.
Chester said residents shouldn't take the Great Lakes
for granted. "If we don't act to ensure that diversions
don't occur, at some point arid areas of the United States
are going to demand Great Lakes water," he said. Chester
encourages residents to write in with comments on Annex
2001 by Oct. 18 and attend upcoming town hall meetings
on the Water Legacy Act.
An evening meeting is scheduled for Sept. 9 in Clare
County, but a location hasn't been set, a DEQ spokesman
said. Two bills were introduced in March for the Water
Legacy Act, one each in the House and Senate. Chester
said there is resistance from some Republican leaders
in the Senate, who want the state to hold off on the act
until a groundwater mapping bill passed last year is finished.
But Chester said that mapping project will take about
two years to complete, only focuses on groundwater withdrawals
and doesn't include agricultural information. He thinks
the state needs to act sooner.
Michigan has its own concerns with Annex 2001, he said,
namely that it continues to give any Great Lakes state
the power to veto a diversion from the basin, which Michigan
now has under federal law.
© 2004 Bay City Times.