Gov. Snyder unveils priorities of 30-year water plan

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published June 18, 2016

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — Joined by state and local officials, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on June 10 unveiled the first step of a 30-year Michigan’s Water Strategy plan aimed at protecting and enhancing the state’s lakes, rivers and streams.

That priority step involves inspiring stewardship through improvement, conversation, community involvement and education.

“Our love of water and the Great Lakes binds us all together,” said Snyder during an informal gathering outside the Department of Natural Resources Lake St. Clair Fisheries Research Station in Harrison Township. “We’re all in this together.”

Snyder was joined by Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, Congresswoman Candice Miller and Jon Allan, director of the Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of the Great Lakes, who is spearheading the creation of what Snyder called a comprehensive, ecosystem-based water resource strategy.

Allan said the highest priorities of the multi-tier strategy were identified in the wake of the Flint water crisis, as well as in light of ongoing threats of invasive species.

Highlighted points over the next three decades will involve safe drinking water; tackling overflow issues into lakes and rivers; reducing the introduction of new invasive species; supporting investments and reinvestments in commercial and recreational harbors, which in turn would support the state’s $4 billion boating industry; creating a water trails system in an effort to spark economic development; and reducing phosphorous in the western Lake Erie basin.

“We have an arrangement going, a partnership, with Ohio and Ontario to look at reducing phosphorous in the western Lake Erie basin by 40 percent over the next few years,” Snyder said.

A look at the strategy was laid out to the public as part of Great Lakes and Freshwater Week June 4-12.

Miller, a lifelong resident of the Lake St. Clair area, said one of her principal advocacies over the years has been protecting and preserving the Great Lakes and the surrounding waterways.

“Like many Michiganians, I grew up along the shores of the Great Lakes, so I understand they are more than just a source of recreation,” said Miller, R-Harrison Township. “They are our way of life and in our DNA.

“Included in Michigan’s Water Strategy unveiled today are actions and recommendations to address inadequate and ill-managed underground infrastructure and to re-establish a real-time water monitoring system,” she continued. “Furthermore, it outlines action to prevent Asian carp from infiltrating the Great Lakes by recommending the initiation of construction at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam, a critical choke point in preventing Asian carp from entering the basin. I welcome this long-term strategy, which, as the first of its kind, takes a comprehensive approach to protecting our magnificent Great Lakes for generations to come.”

Snyder said key components of the strategy will be released over the next few months at events such as last week’s around the state.