A member of the state House of Representatives has introduced a bill that would allow local governments to collaborate on water quality issues.
House Bill (HB) 4133, introduced by state Rep. Kurt Heise (R-Plymouth), would allow for “two or more municipalities to create a water quality alliance to monitor water quality as well as to act to address water quality or the impairments of beneficial uses that are of mutual concern to participating jurisdictions,” according to an analysis of the legislation.
According to Heise, officials in Macomb County asked him to address the issue because of a situation stemming from Lake St. Clair. Because local municipalities are currently not allowed to join together to conduct water testing, each one on Lake St. Clair has to do their own testing.
Staff in Heise’s office explained HB 4133 would allow municipalities “to pool resources and test together to share money if they so choose.”
Under the bill, water quality alliances would be able to monitor, sample, and analyze data to look for any contamination or contamination threats within the waterways. They would also be able to conduct public surveys, as well as prepare and distribute informational and educational materials. Organizing and conducting activities or projects involving the public to help protect water quality would also be allowed.
In order for an alliance to established, a resolution — including the bylaws identifying the structure of the organization and the decision-making process — would have to be approved by the participating municipalities. The resolution would also have to outline the waterways within the alliance’s jurisdiction, as well as the municipalities, counties, county agencies, public school districts, and other public agencies eligible for membership.
At least three lakes area lawmakers say they feel the idea has merit, especially since it encourages collaboration and consolidation.
“At first glance it looks like pretty good legislation,” said state Rep. Eileen Kowall (R-Highland, White Lake). “It’s not mandatory for local governments to join one.”
She added, “I hope that it’s another way for local units of government to share and collaborate services.”
State Rep. Hugh Crawford (R-Walled Lake, Wixom) agreed.
“Without knowing all the particulars of the bill, it sounds reasonable,” he said. “Why wouldn’t you let municipalities get together and do something? We’re trying to consolidate things. As I haven’t seen it all yet, I can’t say for sure, but it sounds reasonable judging from the title of the bill. If it encourages consolidation and saves municipalities money, it’s absolutely the thing to do.”
State Rep. Bill Rogers (R-Milford) said he is also in favor of the bill.
“In regards to regional cooperation and all these water systems that feed left and right into different municipalities, from what I understand (of the bill), it is an excellent idea — to allow local organizations that share common issues to get together and make sure drinking water is safe for everybody. (Waterways) don’t necessarily stop at borders. So I think this is excellent,” he said.