Apr 23, 2018

The Curious Case of Michigan

Brett Quillen writes on Michigan's string of water woes

Whether it is an anomalous string of unrelated events or indicative of a broader trend in mismanagement across the state, Michigan has been all over the news regarding the industrial water sector and concerning water in general. 

The state already bears the albatross of the Flint water crisis, an unprecedented water calamity that continues to unfold, including a decision made on April 6, 2018, by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announcing the cessation of free bottled water for Flint residents.

In the industrial sector, further controversy has found the state following a decision made by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality allowing Nestlé to increase the number of gallons of water pumped per minute from 250 to 400. This decision was met with public dissent, prompting 81,020 public comments, of which 80,945 were against the decision.

Adding insult to injury, a new study executed by Environment Michigan and Frontier Group found rampant excesses of pollution throughout Michigan’s major industrial facilities, claiming that more than 40% of such facilities within the state exceed water pollution limits put in place by the Clean Water Act. The study uncovered a total of 196 discharge violations.

In this swirl of bad press, it is easy to lose sight of positive developments that arise from failure or controversy, but silver linings are visible. Environmental regulators from the state recently announced new plans to drastically reduce per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs) present in the state’s drinking water, demanding municipal sewage plants report industrial sites that claim the highest volume of PFAs.

Moreover, Grand Rapids Community College will begin to offer a Public Works Academy in order to develop skills for in-demand positions. Such a grassroots effort could prove to be beneficial to prevent potential headaches for the state in the future. What are your thoughts? We would love to hear your take. Send an email to [email protected] or call 847.391.1007 to let us know your thoughts.

About the author

Brett Quillen is associate editor for WWD. Quillen can be reached at [email protected]