Granholm Signs Bill to Protect Michigan Waters
Written by Office of the Governor   
Wednesday, 05 April 2006 03:23

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm has signed legislation that bans dumping of contaminated dredged materials in open waters in Michigan. The legislation, which is designed to clarify existing state law, is part of the Governor’s comprehensive plan to protect Michigan’s water.

"I am pleased to sign legislation that makes clear our commitment to protecting Michigan’s waters," said Granholm. "We must ensure that toxins such as mercury and dioxin are not spread from one body of water to another, threatening the health and safety of those who use our water for drinking, commerce, and recreation."

Granholm first asked the Legislature to pass a ban on open water dumping in a Special Message in January 2004. That message which outlined the Governor's comprehensive plan to protect Michigan's waters said, in part, "While Congress considers funding of the Great Lakes Legacy Act to pay for dredging and removal of contaminated sediment from the Great Lakes, the Army Corps is proposing to dump that same contamination right back into our lakes. They call this ‘open water disposal.’ I call it unacceptable." That same day, the Governor signed Executive Directive 1 of 2004 to limit permits for open water disposal of dredged material until a permanent ban could be enacted.

The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is responsible for dredging rivers, streams, and harbors in Michigan to ensure that the waters are navigable for commercial and recreational boats. The material dredged from these waters can contain PCBs, dioxin, mercury, arsenic, chromium, and lead. Transferring those contaminants to open waters can contaminate fish and other species, infecting our food supply and our drinking water. Currently, the USACE is expanding dredging projects in Michigan waterways with funding from the federal Great Lakes Legacy Act, and the confined areas designated for disposal are almost filled to capacity. In addition to the clear health and safety benefits, this legislation is needed to clearly establish Michigan's position on the dumping of this material in open waters and to ensure that the state is not financially liable for alternative dumping sites.

Senator Dennis Olshove said, "I believe that it is our duty to protect the quality of the Great Lakes waters, and this bill is one important step in that direction. The well-being of Michigan’s environmental landscape remains a priority. With this legislation, we are making headway toward keeping Michigan the beautiful state we can all be proud of."

"Michigan has made great strides in protecting our waters from invasive species and pollutants," said Granholm. "This legislation helps ensure that we are not spreading contamination ourselves."

This is the second major piece of Granholm's comprehensive plan to protect Michigan waters to be signed into law in recent weeks. In February, the Governor signed strong water withdrawal legislation that will protect waters of the Great Lakes basin from being diverted and will ensure that both recreational and commercial uses of our water do not harm the ecosystem.

Senate Bill 506 (PA 97 of 2006) was sponsored by Senator Dennis Olshove (D-Warren).

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