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April 22, 2019, Adrian, Michigan – The statement below was issued on Earth Day 2019 by the leadership teams of five congregations of Catholic Sisters whose members have lived and ministered throughout the State of Michigan for 564 years: Dominican Sisters of Adrian (since 1886); Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids (since 1877); Home Visitors of Mary, Detroit (since 1949); Servants of Jesus, Detroit (since 1974); and Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Monroe (since 1845).
As leaders of congregations of Catholic Sisters whose members have lived and ministered in the State of Michigan for a collective 564 years, we call on our State Senators, Representatives, and Governor to enact legislation aimed at safeguarding our drinking water and protecting the precious God-given gift of fresh water that is our Great Lakes.
We are deeply concerned about the deteriorating quality of drinking water throughout our state, particularly as it impacts children and the most vulnerable. Exposure to lead and contamination by PFAS, toxic cyanobacterial blooms, and other pollutants are placing the health of millions of residents in our state and the integrity of the world’s greatest body of fresh water increasingly at risk.
We urge support for Governor Whitmer’s proposed Drinking Water Supplementals, which would provide $180 million in one-time infrastructure-improvement funds to promote safe drinking water. The funds would be used to replace lead pipes, enable schools to install filtered water-bottle filling stations, support PFAS remediation, and for water system optimization and local asset-management planning to help prioritize water infrastructure maintenance.
We also urge support for the Agricultural Pollution Bill (Senate Bill 247/House Bill 4418), which aims to protect the Great Lakes from waste produced by factory farms (also known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations or CAFOs). The legislation would ban the application of manure, fertilizer and other livestock operations waste, like E. coli, hormones and antibiotics, on frozen or snow-covered ground – a practice that leads to waterway contamination.
Water is a precious gift from God to all of creation and, as Pope Francis has written, “a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights” (Laudato Si’, 30). We urge our elected leaders in Lansing to do all they can to safeguard and protect our state’s cherished waterways and drinking water.