Groundwater Discharge Fee Looms Over Michigan

Pending Law Also Would Affect Nonprofit Organizations

Nearly 950 organizations, governments and businesses across Michigan that could face a groundwater discharge fee this year for the first time.

Organizations affected range from wastewater treatment plants in Michigan towns such as Quincy and Colon, and big businesses like Consumers Energy and Dow Chemical to churches and schools near St. Johns, a Boy Scout campground in Twin Lake and a Christian fellowship group in Capac.

The annual fees, which would range from $200 to $3,650, depending on the size and type of facility are designed to alleviate budget problems caused by the state's groundwater discharge permit program.

The legislation, which recently passed the state House and Senate, would make polluters help pay for the financially struggling program. Until now, the state has paid for the program from its general fund -- about $1.4 million in the 2003 fiscal year.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm is expected to sign it. She said the program is important in Michigan's efforts to keep water safe and clean.

The bill would raise an estimated $1.8 million in groundwater discharge fees from the nearly 950 dischargers now required to have a permit. Another 350 groundwater dischargers would need to get permits, according to a Senate Fiscal Agency analysis.

Detroit Free Press

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