The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, & Energy (EGLE) is funding a first-of-its-kind study of risk management strategies for groundwater contamination. A research team from Michigan State University’s Institute for Water Research will use case studies to better understand the long-term implications, risks, and costs of using institutional controls and other restrictions to manage exposure to unusable groundwater.
State and local governments use institutional controls and other restrictive covenants to limit usage of aquifers as an alternative to removing contamination. Institutional controls have a relatively low upfront cost, so policy makers often have a strong incentive to select them as a management strategy.
Little is known about the long-term costs of institutional controls as compared to alternative management approaches, however. Michigan’s environmental laws do not provide guidelines or limits on the appropriate use of institutional controls and restrictive covenants, nor do the laws account for potential complications. This new study seeks to help state and local decision-makers better understand the effects of current management strategies for contaminated groundwater and make more informed decisions about future uses of institutional controls.