Bills would affirm water as a public trust, empower DNR to better protect water, and prevent diversion of bottled water from our watershed.
LANSING – State Reps. Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids), Padma Kuppa (D-Troy), Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia) and Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor) today announced legislation to ensure Michigan’s water is managed in the best interests of the public. The resolution, to be introduced next week by Rep. Kuppa, will commemorate March 22, 2022 as Michigan Water Day and World Water Day, emphasizing that affordable access to clean water is a human right. The bills in the legislative package, introduced this week by Reps. Rabhi, Hood and Pohutsky, would clarify that all water resources of the state are held in the public trust, close the small-container loophole to stop diversion of bottled water outside the Great Lakes basin, and explicitly authorize the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to protect water in its jurisdiction. The legislators were joined at the press conference by advocates supporting the water protection bills.
“Anishinaabek people respect water as the source of life,” said Andrea Pierce, chair and founder of the Michigan Democrats Anishinaabek Caucus, and a tribal citizen of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. “These bills recognize that water is an inseparable part of all of us. The people of Michigan cannot be whole and healthy while our water is being sold off or polluted.”
“As climate change increases drought risk, we cannot allow companies to continue depleting the Great Lakes, while making excessive profits off our water for profit,” Rep. Hood said. “Wall Street private equity firms are pumping massive quantities of water, bottling it, and selling it for profit—all for the cost of a $200 permit.”
“We have over a fifth of the world’s fresh surface waters right here in the Great Lakes, and Michigan’s groundwater provides drinking water to 45% of Michigan’s population,” Rep. Kuppa said. “Access to clean water is a right. We have a responsibility to protect all water sources from contamination and to ensure that people are able to get the clean water they need on an equitable basis.”
“Our natural water resources are priceless and vital to our region’s identity and health,” Rep. Pohutsky said. “The Department of Natural Resources manages other natural resources directly, and they should have the authority to do the same with water, which is crucial to human life and ecosystems.”
“Water is not a commodity to be exploited by speculators and profiteers,” Rep. Rabhi said. “Our groundwater and the other waters of the state belong to all of us. My bill would affirm that water is a public trust, and ensure that it is managed for the benefit of all of us rather than for the profit of a few.”
A number of environmental and community organizations expressed their support for the water protection legislation at the press conference including Bay Mills Indian Community, Clean Water Action, Flint Rising, For Love of Water, Michigan Democrats Anishinaabek Caucus, Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition, MI-Welfare Rights Org, People’s Water Board Coalition and Sierra Club Michigan Chapter.