by Lon Nordeen, MLSA Board member
Inland lake volunteers have been monitoring water quality in Michigan since 1974 as a part of the Self-Help program. In 2003, former Governor Jennifer Granholm created the Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps) (by Executive Order #2003-15), a Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) program funded through the Clean Michigan Initiative (CMI), which included the Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program (VSMP), and the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program (CLMP). The highly successful Michigan Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program has expanded to volunteers on more than 300 lakes across Michigan who perform a wide range of annual water quality testing. MiCorps, and many other monitoring and environmental protection efforts have been supported by Clean Michigan Initiative (CMI) bond funds which are nearly exhausted.
Despite the long-term success of the Michigan CLMP and other water resource protection programs, additional funding had not been allocated to sustain these programs by the state legislature. Governor Snyder and members of the MI Senate and House proposed SB 943 to create funds for various long-term water and environmental protection programs (including MiCorps). This bill was based on a proposed increase in fees for waste hauling and disposal, however, the bill did not pass.
The MLSA, Michigan Waterfront Alliance, and many lake associations and lake residents sprang into action in an attempt to try and save the CLMP from termination. Hundreds of letters were sent to Governor Snyder, the executive level of the MI DEQ, DNR, and most importantly members of the Michigan Senate and House of Representatives. Many lake residents called or visited their elected officials to focus attention of their concerns about the possible end of the CLMP program and inland lake protections.
This concentrated call for help worked! THANK YOU for your support! The Legislature required that the DEQ utilize $150,000 of its existing budget for the CLMP in 2019. However, a long-term funding solution is required to maintain these programs. Readers should know that Michigan Lake Stewardship Associations and the Michigan Waterfront Alliance are committed to working with Michigan’s executive branch, the state legislature, and the senior leadership of the Department of Environmental Quality in creating a long-term sustainable funding source for this nationally recognized citizen volunteer based inland lakes water quality monitoring program.