LaSata: New legislation aims to preserve, protect Michigan water quality

LANSING, Mich. — A comprehensive bipartisan legislative plan to improve testing and reporting of water quality in Michigan was introduced on Tuesday, announced Sen. Kim LaSata.

A primary component of the package is LaSata’s bill that would require periodic testing of water for lead at child care facilities, colleges and universities, hospitals, nursing homes, and adult care facilities.

“The health and well-being of residents in Southwest Michigan and throughout the state is my top priority,” said LaSata, R-Bainbridge Township, who introduced Senate Bill 395 in the package. “My bill and the others in this plan build upon the investment and action that have already been taken to improve and protect the quality of our water.

“Michigan is defined by its water, both literally and figuratively. With this plan, we are going above and beyond to help prevent another Flint water crisis and to ensure contamination is identified and remedied quicker than ever before.”

Additional requirements in the plan to improve drinking water quality include:

  • The creation of the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention and Control Commission to study environmental threats of lead poisoning to children’s health and to review and recommend improvements to the lead poisoning prevention program;
  • A comprehensive lead and copper analysis report at least one year prior to any change in water source;
  • Reforming the emergency manager law into a three-person financial management team and prevent it from changing a public drinking water source without public approval or from making changes affecting public welfare, health, or safety when cost is the primary factor;
  • Granting the state auditor general authority to access and examine electronically stored and confidential information;
  • Requiring lead service line disclosure statements in all rental contracts; and
  • Requiring transparency in water utility ratemaking, billing, and shutoff practices.

The proposal builds upon action taken in recent years by legislators to address water quality issues throughout the state, including lead in Flint’s municipal water system, and in numerous communities dealing with PFAS groundwater contamination.

State funding dedicated to address the water crisis in Flint over the last three years totaled $577.8 million. The state dedicated approximately $90 million on clean water programs, including addressing PFAS, in the current fiscal year, and the Senate-approved fiscal year 2020 budget included nearly $190 million for clean water programs and PFAS response.

“I am committed to doing whatever I can to ensure Michigan’s water is clean and its people are healthy,” LaSata said.

SBs 201 and 404 were referred to the Senate Oversight Committee, while SBs 395–403 were referred to the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. Companion measures, House Bills 4751-4769, were previously introduced and referred to the House Government Operations Committee.