Legislation introduced to protect Great Lakes
By Alex Smith
Central Michigan Life
April 21, 2006
House Democrats introduced legislation Monday to stop Michigan bottled water operators from increasing their amount of water exported – unless otherwise approved by the state.
The proposed legislation would give the state even tighter control over how much water is used than powers previously granted by the legislation Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed in February.
The Democratic governor’s legislation put the state in control of large withdrawals of water more than 100,000 gallons per day and prohibits all withdrawals that have adverse effects on the water.
The legislation also required all new bottled water operators to remove more than 250,000 gallons per day to meet new quality requirements - something Democrats hope to change.
“We are defined by our Great Lakes, and we want to preserve that,” said Rep. Pam Byrnes, D-Chelsea. “Our hope is it will have a positive effect.”
Byrnes said the reasoning behind the legislation is to not only protect the water, but to keep it from leaving the state.
Some Republicans, however, believe there is no need for further changes at this time.
“It surprises me that this additional legislation would be coming out at this time,” said State Rep. Bill Caul, R-Mount Pleasant. “I think we need to give that legislation time to work to see what effect it has on the water consumption in Michigan.”
Caul said his main question to Democrats would be why they agreed with the current legislation after there were such long discussions over water before it was signed into law.
“We had long discussions over water legislation then,” Caul said. “We need to give it time.”
Caul said he would have a better idea of the legislation after the issue goes to the committee and questions are answered.
Byrnes said the new bills are almost complete and are expected to be presented next week.
The bills will then move to the Natural Resources Committee for further work, she said.
“They’re our Great Lakes and it’s our duty and responsibility to protect our water,” Byrnes said.