Michigan will have a new freshwater protection plan that will cover 30 years. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder tries to correct the 2014 Flint crisis by addressing a set of rules for improving the quality of the state’s waters.
Governor Snyder said that the actions reflect Michiganders’ love for the Great Lakes and that they aim to implement sustainability across the state.
Also, as opposed to solving particular issues, the framework is supposed to sustain long-term success.
The Flint Crisis
Two years ago, city officials decided to use Flint River water for the population to reduce costs. Soon after that, the residents complained about its taste and odor. They also started to have physical symptoms, among which hair loss and rashes. Earlier this year, the officials that had taken the decision were prosecuted.
The governor also pledged to drink water from the Flint River for a month, to stress the importance of having tougher lead testing laws.
Residents think that the gesture is just a PR move. The governor does not show solidarity as he only drinks the water, whereas they have to use it for baths and cooking.
Local leaders and agents of the state take steps towards correcting the situation. However, the water crisis is a sign of a much bigger problem. An entire city had been forgotten by the authorities.
People living in Flint complained about the quality of water, but they were ignored for almost 18 months. The disconnection between the officials and the residents is still ongoing.
Analysts from the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research say that even the PR stunts are a sign that the matter is taken seriously, and the issues are discussed publicly.
People started to complain about the water. However, officials reacted only after having a proof of lead contamination.
In January, the state Senate approved $28 million for Flint, but the money was taken back two months after and the next supplementals will be decided only in October when drafting the new budget.
The New Freshwater Protection Plan
Michigan contains 20% of the available freshwater in the world. The state has more than 11,000 lakes and 76,000 miles of rivers. The freshwater coastline is almost 3,200 miles, and the total surface of wetlands is of 6.5 million acres, without taking into consideration the presence of four of the Great Lakes.
The scientific report on the quality of water goes on to explain that the 10 million people living in the state are impacted economically and on a well-being level by the quality of the water.
The plan drafts five courses of action that will ensure sustainability in Michigan: a 40% phosphorus reduction in the Lake Erie basin, managing the quality of drinking water, investments in harbors, more control over invasive species, and a new water trail system.
The invasive species, for example, are said to cause $200 million damage annually by disturbing fishing and tourism. The zebra mussel, the quagga mussel, and the Asian Carp have a negative impact the dynamics of the water ecosystems.
While lead was connected to the Flint River water crisis, the phosphorus pollution is an issue that waited for years to be solved. Phosphorus is caused by atmospheric deposition, wastewater, and agricultural waste drops. On the other hand, the substance can create algae blooms that are not only unappealing but also dangerous.
Thus, even though people from Flint may not be happy with the long-term proposals, the new freshwater protection plan takes things to a higher level and promises to solve ongoing issues that will affect in a positive way the economy of the state and the well-being of its residents.
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