ALPENA - Michigan Governor Rick Snyder knows the importance of water in the state and particularly the many lakes and rivers. He also knows having safe water we use for consumption and bathing is critical to people's health.
That is why the governor has made it known that he wants information collected from around Michigan, so a water strategy plan can be crafted. In order to collect the data and put together a dialog report a consultant was hired and community dialog sessions in 16 communities were scheduled. Alpena was one of the locations community members took part in a visioning session on Wednesday.
Among those in attendance were Mayor Matt Waligora, Samuel Prentice from Huron Pines, Paul Rogers from Lafarge, Andrea Ania from the US Fish & Wildlife, Roger Witherbee from the Wildlife Sanctuary board, Jeff Grey from NOAA, Jackie Krawczak from the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce, Jim Klarich of Target Alpena, and others.
Waligora said the session focus was on everything involving water in the Alpena area and how it impacts people and wildlife. He said the goal is for the state to learn more about water needs and concerns to form and implement a plan to conserve and protect the states water.
"We talked about water overall," Waligora said. "Water we drink, wash with, swim in, fish in, great lakes, inland lakes, rivers, all of it. Alpena was lucky to be able to take part and when the study is done an overall report will be given to the Office of the Great Lakes. We talked about invasive species and their impact, low water levels and also how we can use water to promote our community."
Without water Alpena would have a much different look and would offer a much different way of life for the people how live and visit it. Thunder Bay Marine Sanctuary Superintendent Jeff Grey said Alpena is a critical to Alpena's history and culture. He said the water in the lakes and rivers is part of Alpena's heritage and measures need to be taken to ensure it remains so.
"I think the water of Alpena has always been a reflection of it, from its beginning to today," Grey said. "It touches every aspect of our lives, industry, tourism, recreation and I think it is the main reason people live and visit here. We want to find a way to build a better future for our water and to protect and preserve it the same as it is now, or better for future generations."
Waligora said by having a diverse group talking about water issues, it will help future water issues locally, with or without the state's help. He said by sharing thoughts, concerns and ideas, implementing ideas is possible.
"The purpose of this is great, but sometimes these things go somewhere with the state and sometimes not," Waligora said. "What this did do is brought more local awareness to the water we have, what it means to us and that we need to have a plan ourselves to continue to make sure it is healthy for generations."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com