High Amounts of PFAs and Dioxane in Michigan Water

PRE-PROPOSAL

1. Media Artifact

Link to media artifact(s) giving background on the issue. Please list the title of the artifact(s) and then make the title(s) a link to the page in the MSC site where the artifact has been posted. You may include media artifacts made by other MSC members, if relevant, even if they are not authors of this proposal.

- Link in Artifacts tab!

2. Persona and POV statement

Persona:

Persona name: Kelly Smith

Age: 7-Years Old

School/occupation: Doyle-Rider Elementary

Location: Flint, Michigan

 

Quote: "I love Rihanna so much! I want to be just like her when I grow up!

 

About:

  • Loves dancing, and gymnastics
  • Loves getting Ice Cream with her dad after dinner
  • favorite book is, "Goodnight Moon"

Goals:

  • Become a Professional Hip-Hop dancer
  • Accepted into an Ivy-League school
  • Meet her idol, Rihanna

 

POV Statement:

  • User: Kelly, a happy and goal-oriented elementary school student
  • Need: Needs access to clean water at school when she gets thirsty because her mother says not to drink from the water fountain there.
  • Insight: Because the state and local government do not protect her from infested water.

 

 

3. Potential Solutions:

The major issue I am looking to address is simply ensuring that all water is safe in Michigan to drink. Many ponder why we see stories on the news of issues with water contamination in Michigan, “How does this happen? Don’t we have laws in place to protect us?” And the answer is, yes. We do have regulations for drinking-water safety provided by both the federal government, state governments, and many municipalities. Specifically, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the, Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act, were laws created to enforce regulations on the drinkability of water, by the federal government, and the Michigan State government, respectively. Yet, problems still arise. According to this Article, around 25% of Michigan residents consume water that is not regulated by either statutes labeled above. Further, the author mentions that routine testing is a weak aspect of the legislation.

Consequently, I know that I would like to propose a Michigan law that creates stricter parameters, regulations, and enforcement of water toxicity. Therefore, rather than proposing three separate solutions, below I will bullet point all the areas/topics I believe need to be enhanced or formed through this legislation (Under the 3 main areas of: Regulations, Toxicity, and Jurisdiction)

SOLUTION 1: Jurisdiction Transfer to States

SOLUTION 2: Incentivize Municipalities

SOLUTION 3: In Progress --> Filtering Wells 

  • Harshen Michigan state regulations of water toxicity through legislation.
  • Revise the current act in place to have stricter requirements for toxicity
  • Expand its jurisdiction currently blocked by in place legislation
  • This Article explains that only 75% of residents water is regulated under, Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act, so new bill aims to increase to 100%
  • Create enforceable actions that can take place by the government to entities not following regulation.
  • Ensure that routine testing is demanded by the legislation
  • Specifically, through my research I was able to discover that many times entities are able to pass initial regulation procedures but don’t continue to maintain those procedures after.
  • Therefore, the bill must ensure routine test to ensure all water is up to standards
  • Further, they must be able to hold entities accountable for not maintaining standards.
  • Lastly, formulate tougher toxicity parameters

 

BACKGROUND AND RESEARCH PROCESS

Context

Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal:

We do have regulations for drinking-water safety provided by both the federal government, state governments, and many municipalities. Specifically, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the, Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act, were laws created to enforce regulations on the drinkability of water, by the federal government, and the Michigan State government, respectively.

Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan, or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan:

Essentially, this proposal will most definitely affect the lives of not just students, but all citizens in Michigan. Right now, the state of Michigan does not efficiently protect its citizens from contaminated drinking water. So simply, if I can create a proposal that redefines the regulation and jurisdiction of the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act, all Michigan citizens will benefit by knowing that that they never need to worry that the water they are drinking is not safe, or unregulated.

How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?

Basically, when the Flint water crisis occurred, I assumed that by now Michigan would have created extensive legislation to ensure that an error like that never happens again. However, it is 2019 and after researching and learning about the laws and regulations in place, I learned that still, some water in Michigan is not safe to drink, or not even regulated by laws!

How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?

My service activity, Books for a Benefit, doesn’t really corelate with my proposal but has given me a few incites. While being able to work with children in the elementary school range, I realized how important it is that the government ensure this protection, as a right to its citizens, especially its youth. In my opinion, youth should NEVER have to worry about the quality of the water they are drinking.

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

The media artifact I created for discussion regards PFA’s and Dioxane in water. Simply stated, PFA’s have been found in Ann Arbor water supply. PFA’s cause cancer, liver damage, birth defects, and autoimmune diseases. This is a result of auto manufacturing companies polluting the Huron River, the main supply of Ann Arbor’s water. Dioxane is an industrial chemical used in adhesives that has begun to contaminate underground water supply. Dioxane is a carcinogen, and causes kidney, liver, and respiratory problems.

Consultations

Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).

CONSULTATION 1: Jason Frenzel:

Jason facilitates current and potential watershed stewards. Previously, he worked with the City of Ann Arbor’s Natural Area Preservation program for 10 years as its Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator. Jason holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University in “facilitating tree hugging.” He joined HRWC in 2011 and lives in the Traver Creekshed, according to HRWC.org.

CONSULTATION 2: Brian Steglitz

After speaking with Brian, it was clear that I needed to narrow my bills focus tremendously. For example, I wanted to pursue solving water pollution problems, which ultimately affect the safety of drinking water, but I realized that issue needs to be solved, in detail, separately. I decided that my main focus would be to just increase the percent of drinking water that meets the standards of the current Michigan Safe Drinking Water act, from 75% to 100%. I chose to pursue this because I believe that by attacking this specific problem, we can truly make an impact. 

Manager of Water Treatment Services at City of Ann Arbor

CONSULTATION 3: Trying to get in contact with an individual who works specifically in private water wells, which make up the largest percentage of water that is not regulated, or a municipality leader whose community is currently using wells not regulated by the law. 

 

Reaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator:

You must solicit a critique from a topic coordinator, and explain the impact that advice has had on the final draft of this proposal.

Before meeting with Michael, I simply had a lot of research and facts, and a lot that I wanted to change. However, when I met with Michael I learned that this proposal requires more than passion and research. He provided me with the consultants that I have used as a resource to help me understand the issues at hand. Further, Michael was able to help me narrow my solutions to 3 concrete goals, that I will now include in my proposal. Simply, Michael helped me understand that in order for me to make a strong, well supported proposal, I have to go above and beyond. So, after our meeting I got in contact with my consultants, and learned much more from them about the specific issues. Each of their diverse backgrounds and what they are specifically trying to do gave me such a better perspective of the issue at hand. Also, Michael and I talked about the feasibility of the 3 solutions, and how the cost would be covered. In all, Michael helped me tremendously, and am excited to meet with him again.

Research process:

Describe your research process — indicate who you talked to (including but not limited to consultants), what you read, what you’re thinking was, how it changed over time, and how your consultants changed your thinking. This description of your research process definitely could include “dead ends,” or ideas you had that didn’t ultimately bear fruit.  In short, we want to know what you did and how it led to your legislation, and we also want you to give us a window into your thought process.

Like explained throughout this proposal, I had hoped to conquer many issues regarding water quality. Specifically, I wanted to increase current legislation jurisdiction, enforceability, toxicity percentages, water pollution, and more. However, as I progressed throughout the year, meeting with Michael, and other consultants, I realized that in order for my proposal to truly be implementable, I needed to narrow my focus, and provide descriptive analysis and solutions for enactment. Subsequently, I narrowed my focus on jurisdiction and ensuring that 100% of Michigan's drinking water is regulated by current state law. Further, I designed a feasible and creative plan of enforcement. Overall, I had too many goals and solutions when I began formulating this proposal, but after many consultations, and research, I have created a specific, plausible, detailed-oriented plan.

FORMAL PROPOSAL

The sections below should comprise your final proposal language, submitted for consideration by your peers and potential inclusion in the MSC Platform.

Perambulatory clauses

These set up the PROBLEM, but not the solution.

WHEREAS.... the Flint water crisis devastated the community of Flint,

WHEREAS.... the community while in outrage with both the federal and state government got little restitution

WHEREAS.... people in Michigan still have to worry about the safety of their drinking water

WHEREAS.... The Safe Water Drinking Act and Michigan Safe Drinking Water act, lack the ability to fully regulate all water in Michigan, and are ineffective in protecting its citizens from unsafe water

WHEREAS.... PFAs are being found in the Ann Arbor drinking supply, and is causing constituents poor health and unsafe water

WHEREAS.... Dioxane has contaminated Ann Arbor ground water,

WHEREAS.... the citizens of Michigan express their anger and distrust in the state government, no changes have occurred,

WHEREAS.... 25% of water consumed my Michiganites is unregulated,

(Add more "Whereas" clauses if necessary.)

Operative clauses

These describe in detail, the solution you are proposing (not the problem itself; those should go in the "Whereas" clauses above).

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED....

1. That the Michigan state government increase its jurisdiction so that 100% of drinking water is regulated by the current Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act, rather than only 75%

2. Provide assistance for local municipalities using private water wells to adapt to this change, and meet the requirements of the new legislation, which has been done in states across the U.S.

3. That a task force be created with members of Michigan Congress, along with sustainability leaders, that will enforce the jurisdiction and provide assistance to municipalities that need help transitioning to new standards.

4. That the created task force has the ability to enforce the expanded jurisdiction of this legislation by either utilizing fines, and/or restricting current state funding,  

5. That a 2-year grace period will take place after legislation passing, in order to allow communities using unregulated water time to conform to the new water standards

 

(Add more "Resolved" clauses if necessary.)

Counter-arguments:

What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?

1. One possible counter-argument would be that someone believes that the state of Michigan should leave the authority of water regulation to local municipalities, or maybe a municipality that can’t afford to make changes to meet requirements.

2. Another possible counter argument would be from the perspective of private business. Like explained above, many companies dump waste into the Huron River, and other bodies of water which is probably easier and more cost efficient than other waste management methods.

3. Lastly, the only other counter arguments to this would be from the perspective of an extreme libertarian. Ultimately, this would be a person that believes that the government does not have the authority to create these regulations, rather, communities, or individuals themselves should decide whether they want to drink that water or not. For example, this person would most likely disagree with the federal government program, FDA, which created regulations for sanitation of food and drugs. This person would likely believe that the private market and individuals should decide these things for themselves.

Costs and funding:

What will your proposal cost (in direct expenses, lost tax revenue, lost economic opportunity, and/or non-monetary costs)? How will you pay for your proposed legislation? Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from?  Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?  

The best part about this proposed solution is the minimal expenses. Specifically, the proposal focuses on expanding jurisdiction, not including original solutions like harshening regulations on allowable toxicity in drinking water and regulation for water pollution. So ultimately, we could even generate revenue by receiving monetary fines from organizations that don’t comply. Further, the proposal calls for zero funds, besides the salaries of the non-congressional individuals in the task force. However, the bill aims to assist municipalities in filtering private water wells, or changing the water method, which could be costly. Yet, in reality it is up to the private sector and communities to conform to the new regulations. 

References:

These can include websites or other information you have found about the issue.

https://www.wzzm13.com/article/news/local/water-worries/state-democrats-gop-must-act-on-pfas-in-new-session/69-590917838

 

https://www.mlive.com/news/erry-2018/07/00699c24a57658/michigan_pfas_sites.html

 

https://www.hrwc.org/about/staff/

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