LANSING — State Representatives Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), LaTanya Garrett (D-Detroit) and Julie Plawecki (D-Dearborn Heights) called for hearings on their bipartisan, bicameral legislative package on water in recognition of World Water Day. World Water Day dates back to the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, when an international observance for water was recommended. The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating March 22, 2003 as the first World Water Day, and it has been held annually since then.
“Too many Michigan citizens are struggling to just have access to clean, drinkable water, and that is why my colleagues and I are recognizing World Water Day by calling for a hearing on our water legislation,” said Chang. “Our bills will protect the residents of Detroit, Flint, Highland Park, and all Michiganders, because what happened in these communities could happen anywhere in our state.”
The water quality and affordability package includes bills to:
- Increase transparency about water rates and shut-offs – House Bill 5093 (Plawecki)
- Establish water as a human right – HB 5101 (Plawecki/Senator Coleman Young)
- Ensures that water samples are collected using EPA procedures and prohibits the procedure of pre-flushing – HB 5094 (Rep. Sheldon Neeley)
- Prohibit utilities from charging a customer for service during a period of time when the customer has not received a bill, even after contacting the provider – HB 5110 (Garrett)
- Addresses the water rate structure and creates a state water affordability plan – HB 5097 (Chang/ Sen. Bert Johnson)
- Decriminalize the reconnecting of water pipes to regain access to water – HB 5095 and 5096 (Chang/Garrett)
- HB 5120 (Neeley) establishes a 72 hour public notification requirement for Tier II water violations from both the MDEQ and the responsible drinking water authority.
- Institute shut-off protections for seniors, families with young children, pregnant women, and people with disabilities, and provides for clearer notification. HB 5122/SB 655 (Chang/Senator Jim Ananich).
“Our bills were introduced last November, and yet we still have not had a hearing on them,” said Garrett. “We absolutely should not be seeing the access to water problems that many Michigan communities, including mine, are experiencing,” said Garrett. “Michiganders deserve better than to have to worry about if quality water will flow from their tap when they turn it on, or if it will be clean and drinkable.”
“Michigan has made national and international news first with the water shut-offs in Detroit and now with the Flint water crisis,” said Plawecki. “A lot of talk has been followed, with some action on our water problems, but much, much more needs to be done. Our bills will address many of the concerns in all Michigan communities dealing with water problems, so I hope we will soon have a hearing and begin to move our legislation.”