Crafting a 30-year strategy to position Michigan’s abundant (and awesome) water assets in a national and global context is no easy feat. MEC is grateful to Governor Snyder for asking for such a plan, and to Jon Allan and his team at the Office of Great Lakes (OGL) for pulling a laudable draft of one together.
More discussion of the water strategy is below, but first, here are the top ten surprises I found in digging through the document. Take a look for yourself, and see what surprises you!
- Michigan has more than 1.3 million on-site wastewater systems (septics), but is the only state without a specific law regulating them. No central system exists to track the locations or conditions of these systems as Michigan lacks a statewide sanitary code that would require inspections. Only 11 of Michigan’s 83 counties conduct septic inspections at time the time of real estate transaction.
- More than half of all new single-family houses built today in Michigan are not serviced by a public wastewater utility but instead rely on individual septic systems. The report estimates that at least 130,000 systems statewide are likely failing and discharging as much as 31 million gallons of sewage per day.
- Michigan has more than 1 million private domestic wells, more than any other state in the U.S. While public water supplies are subject to oversight and frequent inspections to ensure their quality and safety, individual residential water well owners are responsible for the maintenance of their own wells, and the siting and construction of these wells is handled at the local level rather than at the state level.
- The state has an estimated 2 million improperly abandoned wells, each of which poses a risk to groundwater resources by providing a potential conduit between the surface and underground aquifers, or between aquifers.
- Michigan has more than 8,500 leaking underground storage tanks and more than 9,700 other sites of environmental contamination. Twelve of Michigan’s original 14 designated Areas of Concern remain on the list of areas with legacy contamination. Cleanup funds and monitoring funds from previous statewide bonds are within a few years of disappearing, and no replacement source has been identified. Read more