Michigan's Water Problem

Michigan’s waters are iconic, but too many of our families today cannot drink the water in their community or touch the lake outside their door. Toxic chemicals, including ‘forever chemicals’ such as PFAS, have been creeping into ground, surface and drinking water in communities across the state.

We need policies that will safeguard our critical drinking water sources now and in the future.

The Problem

Even though we’re never more than six miles from a natural water source, the unfortunate reality is that our drinking water is continually testing positive for dangerous toxins.

PFAS (‘forever chemicals’): Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are man-made chemicals that have been used in industrial and consumer products worldwide since the 1950s.

Known as ‘forever chemicals’ because they don’t break down in the environment, they’re found in everyday items such as non-stick cookware, water-repellent clothing and shoes, stain resistant fabrics and carpets, some cosmetics, firefighting foams, pizza boxes and any product that resists grease, water and oil.

And so far, they have been found to have contaminated more than thirty areas across Michigan. Just one eye dropper of liquid PFAS in your drinking water could lead to serious, even life-threatening health risks, including impacts to kids’ development, suppressed immune systems, reduced thyroid function and cancer.

Governor Snyder’s administration knew these chemicals were in our drinking water nearly six years ago, but never took action to prevent families from being poisoned.

Flint Water Crisis: Flint has been without clean, drinkable water since April 2014. The short-sighted decision to switch Flint’s drinking water to an untested system has cost at least 12 lives, hundreds of millions of dollars, and left children with long-term health problems. Multiple officials in Governor Snyder’s administration are currently under investigation for their roles in this man-made crisis.

Dioxane Plumes: A dioxane plume near Ann Arbor has polluted an aquifer the city had been using for drinking water, and continues to spread east. City officials have been forced to shut off a well station on the city's west side, while a groundwater use prohibition zone remains in effect for a large segment of the remaining areas.

In every instance, the Snyder Administration and Republican-controlled legislature sat on their hands and only resorted to taking action after mounting public pressure. Instead of sending immediate help, their first instinctual response to pollution has repeatedly been dangerous inaction.

It’s time for a tidal wave to change the status quo because decisions made with only the bottom line in mind have devastating consequences for future generations.

Our Solution
Senate Democrats are committed to finding immediate and lasting solutions to our water issues. We should empower citizens to demand action that will prevent environmental injustice, including:

  • Corporate Accountability: Polluters must be held accountable for actions that compromise the health and well-being of kids and communities.
  • Updating Infrastructure: We need to commit to replace aging water systems and making routine water assessments the norm.
  • Setting Standards: Our state needs strong, enforceable drinking water standards that protect the health of Michigan families.
  • Repealing the Emergency Manager Law: Michigan’s emergency manager law should be eliminated, just as the citizens voted to do in 2012, to provide greater transparency and accountability in local decisions, such as water management.

Michiganders should be able to trust that the water flowing from their faucet is safe to drink. We must hold polluters accountable and safeguard our water to keep our families and communities safe.

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