Saturday, May 24, 2008

Michigan's Great Lakes Threatened By Michigan Legislature

Just a quick post today, about Michigan Senate Bill 860, recently passed by the State Senate and under consideration by the State House. While we hear noise about building a pipeline to divert Great Lakes water to thirstier states, the real danger is massive bottled water operations like the ones that would be permitted under SB 860.

The legislators characterize the bill as a "a fair and common sense plan in which science is the measuring stick":
An automated point-and-click computer tool will allow users to determine if a proposed withdrawal will be within legal limits. The user will enter key data into the computer, including location, proposed pumping rate, and depth of well, and the computer based model will automatically assess whether or not the proposed use is within the legal limit. The computer will also generate a certificate that the withdrawal is in a safe limit and that certificate will help to provide the user with the assurance that they are OK to move forward.
Environmental groups note that the bill allows for a diversion of a heck of a lot of water:
By contrast, SB 860 relies solely on the newly developed ‘Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool’ for decisions about new or expanded water withdrawals. Consequently, SB 860 would not require permits for large water withdrawals even if the proposed withdrawal is in an area with marginal water availability. Without permits, there is no opportunity for local input into water withdrawal decisions. Further, as written, SB 860 designates from 22-40 % of stretches of natural wonders like the Jordan and Au Sable Rivers as available for withdrawal; in stretches of other water waterways, withdrawals as could be allowed for as much as 46% of the flow.
Somehow, I'm reminded of the birthing scene in Monty Python's "The Meaning of Life", in which the doctors are so transfixed with their technology ("The machine that goes "beep!") that they leave the laboring mother alone out in the hall.

No comments: