Legislation would create new office for water quality oversight

LANSING — A new position could soon be created to oversee water quality in the state of Michigan.

House Bill 5462 would introduce the office of water ombudsman and provide a process for investigation and evaluation of public drinking water quality. Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) is a co–sponsor of the legislation, which is one of many initiatives being taken in response to the Flint water crisis.

“We do not want to ever have this happen anywhere in Michigan in all 83 counties. What went on with this was wrong, and what it comes down to a lot of times is I think that we’ve got to start looking at making sure somebody is in charge of this,” said Dianda. “We got good support on the issue, because I’ll tell you what, everybody is in crisis mode looking at this issue.”

The ombudsman would be responsible for investigating quality issues. The person in that position could initiate an investigation or begin after receiving complaints alleging violation of law or a water quality condition that poses a significant threat to health or safety.

Dianda also hopes to return water testing responsibilities to local hands.

“Another thing that needs to be done is that all of our water testing should be back local in our communities in our counties where we have one single point of access to look at our water,” added Dianda.

The bill was sent to the House Committee on Natural Resources for consideration.