Water law is one of the most dynamic, fascinating, and crucially important environmental law practice areas in Michigan. Our pleasant peninsulas are blessed with more than 2,000 square miles of inland water and 38,000 square miles of Great Lakes area.1
Despite this natural abundance, our water resources continue to face threats and pose regulatory challenges. From groundwater withdrawal regulations to the Flint water crisis, changes to the Lead and Copper Rule, repeated flooding of metropolitan areas and beyond, the Great Lakes State is awash in water-related issues. Topics related to water law are frequent front-page news stories and shape our lives in dramatic and profound ways.
It is appropriate, then, that this issue of the Michigan Bar Journal is dedicated to water law. We are pleased to present you two articles focusing on among the most significant water law issues in the state. The first article highlights the impacts of fluctuating Great Lakes water levels along our 3,288 miles of coastal shoreline and the myriad ways in which our laws and policies at the federal, state, and local levels affect — and are affected by — these dynamic freshwater seas. The second piece centers on an issue that an unfortunately large number of communities throughout the state have had to address recently — contamination of our waterways from perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. This article reviews the state’s PFAS clean-up criteria, which were trendsetters for the nation, and provides a helpful summary of recent cases litigating the numerous issues related to PFAS contamination.
We hope you enjoy the issue, and we wish you all a healthy and prosperous summer! Cheers.