Bill gives EGLE new mechanism to protect Michigan’s water and natural resources if threatened  

LANSING, Mich. (June 26, 2024) — Today, the Michigan House passed Senate Bill 398, important legislation sponsored by Sen. Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo) authorizing the Director of Michigan Dept. of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) to issue written emergency orders when inland lakes and streams are threatened with harm to “public health, safety, welfare, property, or the natural resources or the public trust in those natural resources.” The bill was previously passed by the Senate and is another step closer to becoming law. 

“I’m grateful for the support of my legislative colleagues on this important legislation,” said Sen. McCann. “The most recent disaster with the Kalamazoo River made it abundantly clear that EGLE needed a mechanism to better protect our natural resources and their ecosystems. I am hopeful this may help prevent future disastrous situations like the sediment release from Morrow Dam on the Kalamazoo River.”  

The legislation, originally introduced by Sen. McCann in 2021 and again in 2023, followed the release of river-choking sediment in the Kalamazoo River in 2019. STS Hydropower, operators of the Morrow Dam located on the Kalamazoo River in Comstock Township, lowered water levels around their dam, and released approximately 400,000 cubic yards of mud downstream into the river, where it remains today causing ongoing damage to the river’s ecosystem of fish, wildlife, and vegetation. In March 2022, Attorney General Dana Nessel filed a lawsuit that is still pending against STS Hydropower following the mismanagement of dam repairs on the Kalamazoo River.