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House Democrats introduce bills to protect Michigan groundwater

Andrew Pennebaker
creative commons

A new package of bills introduced in the Michigan State House would direct the state to treat groundwater as a public trust.

That’s among the protections for groundwater included in the bills, which are sponsored by four House Democrats.

Environmental groups applaud the move. They say that in an increasingly thirsty world, it’s important to ensure that water isn’t turned into a commodity like oil.

 “The bills will direct the Department of Natural Resources to be strong public trustees of the lands and water it manages,” said Liz Kirkwood, head of the Traverse City-based For Love of Water, or FLOW.

“The Great Lakes must never be for sale. And Michigan's groundwater must never become privatized and siphoned away. We must protect every arc of the water cycle for the benefit of the public today and for generations to come.”

Kirkwood said the legislation would also close what she called a “loophole” in the current Great Lakes Compact. That loophole allows private companies and others to extract groundwater in the state, so long as it uses containers no larger than 5.7 gallons.

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Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October, 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit. Before her arrival at Michigan Radio, Sarah worked at WDET-FM as a reporter and producer.