The first meeting of Michigan's Clean Water Public Advocate ambassadors took place online last week, with Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II kicking it off. Ambassadors are Michiganders who have volunteered to work with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy's (EGLE) Office of the Clean Water Public Advocate to ensure that public drinking water concerns are addressed.
"Governor Whitmer and I have made protecting and delivering clean water and rebuilding trust in state government a priority from day one," Gilchrist said. "The Clean Water Ambassador program is a critical tool in leveraging community leadership, experience and potential around water issues. We're excited to work alongside Ambassadors to develop better policies, programs and practices that make clean water a reality for all Michiganders."
Michigan now has 118 clean water ambassadors, says Ninah Sasy, EGLE's Clean Water Public Advocate. They have diverse backgrounds and lived experiences to ensure that the state's water efforts are inclusive and accessible to Michigan residents.
During the meeting, Sasy explained what lies ahead in the coming months for the Office of Clean Water Public Advocate and how ambassadors are part of it. A series of monthly webinars are planned.
During the meeting, ambassadors indicated that the key strategies must focus on transparency of water quality data and timely communication with communities. They also stressed the need to establish an easy-to-use online drinking water complaint system to track and address water quality concerns in a timely manner, and discussed the need for a comprehensive water quality outreach campaign to complement the rollout of EGLE's new uniform drinking water concern system that will launch this fall.
Michigan residents are still able to become ambassadors by contacting the Office of Clean Water Public Advocate at EGLE-CleanWater@Michigan.gov. "This initiative allows all Michiganders to have a voice and a seat at the table," Sasy added. "I'm counting on feedback to help us continue to improve," Sasy added.
The Office of the Clean Water Public Advocate ensures that drinking water concerns are investigated and that trends are analyzed. Based on trend analysis, recommendations to laws, rules, regulations and procedures will be made to ensure that community concerns are addressed. The office also connects resources at the state and local levels to ensure that Michigan is more responsive to drinking water quality concerns. It works closely with EGLE’s Drinking Water and Environmental Health Division and many other agencies including the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Division of Environmental Health.
The Office of the Clean Water Public Advocate acts as an interface between state, local and private sector stakeholders to ensure that Michigan is more responsive to public drinking water concerns. The Clean Water Ambassadors are a key part of this effort.