protecting the fresh water of michigan

Can someone explain to me what’s going on with Michigan’s water? I haven’t spent a great deal of time looking into it, but it sounds to me as though we’ve 1) put some safeguards in place to protect it from corporations and other regions, and yet 2) refused to go so far as to say it, as a natural resource, belongs to the people of Michigan… The following clip comes from yesterday’s “Detroit Free Press“:

Michigan lawmakers announced an agreement Monday that would regulate new, large-scale withdrawals of water from the state — a deal expected to clear the way for Gov. Jennifer Granholm to sign an eight-state compact to prevent diversion of water outside the Great Lakes basin.

The agreement, reached after two years of negotiations among legislators and business and environmental leaders, could be voted on in the Legislature as soon as this week. It would limit withdrawals of more than 1 million gallons a day, by manufacturers, bottlers, farmers or others…

Under the legislation, proposals for new uses of water that exceed 1 million gallons a day would be permitted only if evidence showed no serious impact on the water supply would result. Climate change and forecasts of increasing droughts could add pressure to ship Great Lakes water to thirsty regions, experts say.

The deal was announced by state Sen. Patty Birkholz, R-Saugatuck, and Rep. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, along with the business and environmental groups involved…

In somewhat related news, I give you all my word that I will clog the pipeline with my giant, fleshy ass if Phoenix ever tries to start sucking away our water. We should not, ever, under any circumstances, be in the position of propping up desert communities in the U.S. that are not even remotely sustainable in the long run. And that goes double for the corporate giants who are making a mint bottling up water that should be in the public trust and selling it back to us at a hefty markup, leaving billions of plastic bottles in their wake.

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  1. K
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    The Great Lakes Basin Compact is a comprehensive bill that protects water in Michigan, but is most effective because it seeks to include all Great Lakes states and the two provinces that border the water. In the past a state might pass extensive reforms regarding water access or quality, only to have that legislation rendered ineffective because another state bordering the water doesn’t acknowledge it. The only Great Lake state not yet to sign on is Pennsylvania,and they are in the process. It’s expected to pass there. You can review the compact here.
    Ohio is signing on July 7th. If you’re a real Compact enthusiast, I believe the event is open to the public.

  2. Dr. Cherry
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Bottled water ought to be banned in Michigan. It’s usually inferior to tap water, especially in these parts.

  3. Dot
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    From a great lakes blogger a few days ago.

    MI: pass the compact, don’t surrender the public’s water

    As intransigent legislators and lobbyists in Michigan — for no defensible reason — refuse to assure public ownership of water in that state’s pending water conservation legislation, the advice from the Detroit Free Press yesterday makes more sense. Break the link between the legislation and Michigan’s approval of the Great Lakes Compact, and pass the latter. Come back again and again on the other bills until the public trust is protected.

    There is no clamor in the general population for commercializing Michigan’s water. In fact, any decent public opinion survey would show an 80-20 margin against. So why are a few special interests in Lansing refusing to enact language that expresses the people’s will?

  4. Dot
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    That quote came from David Dempsey (

    He also said this (

    “We are extremely disappointed that the legislature failed to strengthen our important public trust protections, which affirms that water is a public resource that belongs to Michiganders and not to corporations or profit-takers,” said Cyndi Roper of Clean Water Action. “We intend to revisit this issue.”

    So the one thing that two former Governors, a leading member of Congress and others said was critical is not part of this deal? “Pyrrhic victory” might be a better headline. If you want to put your faith in government bureaucracy to save Michigan’s water, this package is a winner; if you trust citizens over special interests, it’s not.

  5. Brackachetucky
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Don’t mind if I do:

    “…back on capital hill, it’s clear that Governor Richardson’s comments have made Great Lakes lawmakers extremely suspicious of any call for a national water policy. Tempers flared when the House subcommittee on water resources and environment began discussing a seemingly innocuous proposal to study US water use and availability. As reported in the Detroit Free Press, Michigan Representatives Candice Miller and Vern Ehlers vigorously opposed the legislation.

    Miller said: “Forgive me if I, as a representative of the Great Lakes State, become concerned when I hear people promoting a national water policy or strategy. But the only logical conclusion I can come to is that such a commission is subversive attempt to divert water from the Great Lakes to other parts of the United States.

    “And I do not intend to let that happen.”

    Not to be outdone, Representative Ehlers made it clear what would happen if there was any attempt by other states to grab our water:

    “I would suspect we’d call up the militia and take up arms,” Ehlers said. “We feel that serious about it.”


  6. dp in ypsi
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Phoenix already takes our water… Nestle bottles it, ships it to box consumer stores and sells it under the Ice Mountain label. A multi-national corporation profits, so it’s ok, don’t get too worked up. [insert laugh-track here]

    I’ve even seen footage of our soldiers in Iraq drinking Michigan’s water in press clips concerning unrelated traumatic topics. If my intuition serves me correct, a Halliburton subsidiary charged US tax payers an awful lot of money to sell Michigan’s water back to our soldiers.

    The point is, you may have to figure out a way to jamb a piece of your person into a half liter bottle. Better yet, we might have to chop you up with a few unicorns and strategically place said components in the feeding lines of the bottling plant.

    According to Nestle, the bottling plant in Mecosta, MI is 403,000 square feet. Who needs a pipe line when we’ll let them pump it out in bottles for practically free?

    To make sure we don’t get too possessive over the whole little thing of taking our water, the facility got LEED certified, and reduced the amount of plastic on one of their popular bottles by 30%.

    Alaska got it right, if companies are going to profit off of the collective resources, at least every person in the state gets a check for it every year. With global warming and all… water is the next oil. Plenty of Political Science wonks, including me, say so. The generation in kindergarten today will likely fight wars over water in the middle of this century. Nestle just got in the act to make a quick buck early in the process.

  7. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    If Gov. Granholm called up the militia to storm the Nestle plant tomorrow, I’d take up arms.

    Nobody has the right to deprive me of my fantasy of riding into Arizona in a few years, and doing this.

  8. Karen
    Posted June 27, 2008 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    We should preemptively demand that they reroute sunshine to us from California.

  9. mark
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    We shouldn’t just sit around and wait for a war that we all know is coming. The Great Lakes states should secede and launch a preemptive war against those states closest to us…

  10. Robert
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    We need time and money to build the massive Great Lakes war machine. I say we start by charging the rest of the country the exact same price per gallon as we are being charged for gasoline.

  11. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    The last time we gathered the militia to launch a preemptive war against a neighboring state, we were given the upper peninsula as a consolation prize.

    I say we try it again. Maybe this time they’ll give us Canada.

  12. Brackache
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    If we annex Canada, we could bring this fresh water and spacious campsite addicted world to its knees.

    Embargo on!

  13. mark
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Whatever happened to the Michigan Militia? Are they still around? Are they training? Are they talking at all about the possibility of a war over water?

  14. Brackache
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    mark: according to state law, you are a member of the Michigan Militia, so you tell us.

  15. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    It is a fun law. It:

    a) makes all those crazy (sorry, BA, stereotyping) constitutionalist, self-named Mich Militia members subject to Gov. Granholm (i.e., the Mich Militia can’t do shit unless the state governor tells them to),

    b) makes every pacifist able-bodied person subject to instant draft to fight whatever threat the governor sees fit.

    According to state law, we are the Michigan Militia. According to more moderate members of what we know through media as the “Michigan Militia,” they are just training, as we all should be, to be ready to help when called into action by the Governor, be that in Hurricane Katrina type aid or fending off Arizona from our water supply.

    (BA, I’m just recollecting, I trust you’ll correct me when I’m wrong.)

    Of more immediate interest, as I understand it, the Michigan National Guard has kind of taken the place of the Michigan Militia. So, if the national guard is the new militia, then Granholm could order all members of the Mich Militia back from Iraq. (BA, does this follow?)

    It could have interesting foreign policy implications, for this and future wars.

    And, maybe it’s time we reclaimed our militia. If it’s not simply a bunch of gun nuts (again, sorry BA, stereotype) fantasizing about overthrowing the government but actually all of us being ready with supplies to drive across state to help flood victims, maybe the law isn’t that ill conceived.

    By the way, as I own a canoe, I will be on the frontlines of the the water wars, as I’m legally a navy man.

  16. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

    You have to admit, it is nice to picture All members of yacht clubs and other organizations formed for the pursuit of aquatic sports and pastimesbeing constricted into duty, for a change.

  17. not so fast
    Posted July 1, 2008 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    According the Michigan State Constitution, Sectin 33.29:

    The commander-in-chief shall have power to assign any officer, warrant or petty officer, or seaman of the United States navy detailed for or assigned to duty with the naval brigade as instructor or otherwise, to such duties as he may deem proper and suitable, and shall have power to confer upon any such officer, warrant or petty officer, or seaman, such rank in the naval service of the state during such detail or assignment as he may deem best.

    Clearly, Governor Granholm has no authority as a “commander-in-chief” as she is not a “he” and therefore has no power over the militia, whatsoever.

  18. Brackache
    Posted July 1, 2008 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I accept your apology for stereotyping, OEC, and you’re right, you are stereotyping.

    Will expound on your questions.

  19. Brackache
    Posted July 1, 2008 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Okay: in the spirit of full disclosure here, I have trained with the people you’re referring to as the gun nuts and crazy constitutionalists. I’ve actually met the real people, who have names and are nice people. I don’t train with them anymore because it’s too far and gas costs too much. In my wildest fantasies, I envision a pay-to-use indoor rifle range on Waterstreet where I can go train with everyone on this blog in case of an emergency, to help our community. I promise, if I ever get super rich, I will try to make that happen for our city’s and citizen’s benefit… assuming we can author appropriate laws regarding the discharge of firearms in said facility.

    I’m not sure why being a constitutionalist seems crazy to you, seeing as how you believe in the rule of law, and the constitution is the highest law of the land. I also think it’s worth noting that you freely associate with crazy constitutionalist speech nuts, crazy constitutionalist privacy nuts, and crazy constitutionalist anti-torture nuts.

    When you remove fear, prejudice, and ignorance from the equation, we are left with ordinary people who take their civic duty and their rights seriously, which in my first-hand experience is what I witnessed at these training days.

    If there are crazy people who pose an imminant threat on their fellow citizens, they are subject to defensive force, regardless of whether they are characterized as “gun nuts” or “knife nuts” or “baseball bat nuts” or “choke hold nuts.” If they don’t pose an imminant threat, they should not be slandered or treated as such. Peaceful citizens who own and train to use firearms are still peaceful citizens.

    Also, those people you are reffering to affirm that they are subject to Governor Granholm if called to duty.

  20. Brackache
    Posted July 1, 2008 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Now, regarding the National Guard. I’m no expert, but if any of our State’s Governors had any balls, they’d order their State troops home and find out.

    I have an inkling that the National Guard is actually more a part of the United States armed forces legally than the State’s independant armed forces. I’ve heard and read that they train on federal land, use federally funded equipment, and were created by the Federal Government. Therefore, the States don’t have ultimate control of them, and their being thought of as the State’s primary militias is a bit of a shell game. Double-check me on that one because I can’t back it up at my fingertips and would like to have an accurate opinion on the subject.

    Regarding the right of the People to alter or abolish the Governments they’ve created when they become injurious to the ends of protecting Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness… I have no idea where anyone could have gotten that notion. But in order for such an effort to succeed, there has to be popular support. There isn’t because we’re inclined to suffer evils while they’re still sufferable, and they’re still sufferable. So there’s no need for violence, and it wouldn’t work anyway, unless we pretty much all thought it was necessary, which we don’t. I suggest the peaceful process in regards to restoring our Constitutions and rule of law, as do most militia-minded folks I’ve met.

    Any more questions?

  21. Brackache
    Posted July 1, 2008 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    “And, maybe it’s time we reclaimed our militia. If it’s not simply a bunch of gun nuts (again, sorry BA, stereotype) fantasizing about overthrowing the government but actually all of us being ready with supplies to drive across state to help flood victims, maybe the law isn’t that ill conceived.”


  22. Ol' E Cross
    Posted July 1, 2008 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    BA. True, I used to hold those stereotypes but you’ve largely dissuaded me against them. The most interesting things that I learned from our discussions was that we’re all, legally, in the Michigan Militia and the MM is subject to State of Michigan oversight.

    And, the state has obviously neglected its Constitutional role in training well and regulating its resident militia men and babes.

    I’m guessing most folks just know the MM through Tim McVeigh era reports, and assume the militia is just a bunch of folks waiting to try to overthrow the government if their first amendment rights are violated.

    I don’t think you’re crazy for following the state constitution. I think it’s worth educating folks on what the law says.

    If only their were still a snappy t-shirt available on cafe press that could serve those ends…

    I would like to look into the possibility of pressuring Granholm to, at least, bring our local troops home.

  23. Brackache
    Posted July 1, 2008 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    Well OEC, thanks a lot for deflating the whoopie cushion in my soul by being so agreeable to my one big issue. Now my life is meaningless.

    I guess I’ll go relearn how to play marbles now or something.

    Now that we’re all trained up and ready to go to the front, I’m not really sure why I’m supposed to be fightin’ mad about someone else wanting to use our Great Lakes water.

  24. Ol' E Cross
    Posted July 1, 2008 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    All hope is not lost, BA Although it would appear the national guard is now a Federal unit, I was wrong about the state neglecting its duty to maintain a militia.

    It’s called the Michigan Volunteer Defense Force. From their site:

    Further, you will be carrying on the unique American tradition of volunteer militia service which dates back to 1636 before the creation of the United States. You will serve with other patriotic people who have a knowing respect for military preparedness.

    I’d be proud to see you in uniform.

  25. Ol' E Cross
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 12:05 am | Permalink

    Oh, and I meant to include the “why join” quote:

    Simply stated, because you are a patriot who lives what you believe..

  26. Brackache
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Yeah, I saw those MVDF guys already. I prefer doing the same thing while staying with us unorganized militia. You may think I look like a clown in my own self-supplied uniform, but this here jacket represents a symbol of my individuality, and my belief in personal freedom.

  27. Brackache
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Now that I’ve read through their whole website, on second thought, I might just do that, OEC.

    Back a few years ago when I was looking into all this militia who-ha, the MVDF site was one page and didn’t have any contact info. Now it’s all fancy and user friendly, and you can actually figure out how to join if you want.

    I fear more people train with the unorganized Michigan Militia than with the MVDF, though.

    Anybody know of anyone in it?

  28. Robert
    Posted July 5, 2008 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    If I were Bush’s speechwriter, I’d have him give a national address expressing his concern over America’s addictions to air, water and food.

  29. StateMilitaryReservist
    Posted December 25, 2008 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    I am an active member of the Michigan Volunteer Defense Force, the state’s military reserve or official, sanctioned state militia. I enlisted nearly two years ago.

    Those calls for the governor to “bring home our local troops” (although a noble thought) is a moot point, because the Feds pay for and ultimately have command over the National Guard forces of any state. Remember history class and the Little Rock incident? The Arkansas governor called the National Guard up to surround the high school to keep the black students out… then the President federalised the guard troops, sent them home and brought in the crack airborne troops.

    Those groups who call themselves “militia” in this state are nothing more than civilians dressing up in cammo and pretending that they’ll have some role to play in a disaster. The law says the unorganized militia, all males 17-45 — that’s it. The local “militia” commander of Bobby Joe’s Backyard Constitutional Militia has no more authority than the 17 year old kid flipping burgers at McDonalds.

    If the governor wanted to activate (or draft) the unorganized militia into service, he/she would not ask the leaders of these backyard militia groups to come help the state pretty please… they would order them to report for duty for initial training in the organized militia, the MIVDF. Pre-existing private militia groups would not be given official sanction, instead their members and most other citizens would be required to enlist and train in the official, authorized MIVDF.

    Hope this clears up some confusion.

    Ever vigilant, ever ready. “Don’t mess with our Great Lakes.”

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