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Michigan Residents Favor Stronger Regulations to Improve Water Quality and Safety

By February 20, 2020 No Comments

Poll Respondents Rate Inland Lakes & Streams

By: Paul J. Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director

“Pure Waters: A Citizens Agenda for Water Quality and Affordability in Michigan,” a report released on February 12, 2020, by The Center for Michigan, reveals that Michigan residents favor stronger regulations to improve water quality and safety. 

The findings were developed from The Center for Michigan’s “Your Water, Your Voice” public engagement campaign. From September through November 2019, the Center gathered input from more than 3,100 residents who participated in a statewide poll, attended more than 20 town halls and solutions summits, or responded to a Bridge magazine reader survey. 

Nearly 7 in 10 residents in the survey say the Great Lakes are in good or great shape. However, respondents had more skepticism about the quality of inland lakes and steams, with just over half saying they are in good condition. That means 46.3 percent rated inland lakes and streams as Fair-Poor-Terrible.

Nearly 80 percent of participants said Michigan should “strengthen regulations to protect water quality,” with only 3 percent saying Michigan should “loosen regulations if needed to promote economic growth.” Only 17 percent felt the state should “keep regulations generally the same”. If trade offs must be made between environmental preservation and economic development, most Michiganders polled said they prioritized protecting water quality.

Interestingly, during the lame-duck legislative session in 2018, the state adopted a law dictating that Michigan regulations cannot be more stringent than those set by the federal government, unless the state shows a “clear and convincing” need due to “exceptional circumstances.” Three in 5 poll respondents said the state should repeal this law. 

Six in 10 respondents supported increased oversight of private wells and septic tanks. Many cited that Michigan is the only state in the nation without a unified septic code, and leaking septic tanks can contaminate surface water and water wells with E. coli to the detriment of public and ecological health. 

The report also covered resident concerns about PFAS, Line 5, and Public Water Systems.  Download the report here.