October 1st, 2020

In an effort to upgrade Michigan’s decaying drinking water infrastructure, Governor Whitmer announced her new MI Clean Water plan designed to commit $500 million from four different sources to start solving this lingering problem. The plan includes fixing lead service lines, getting rid of dangerous water contaminants like PFAS, improving septic and sewer systems, and making water rates more affordable. This announcement is a firm commitment that elevates these critical issues at a time when the larger conversation seems to be shifting away from infrastructure and public health when we need investments in these areas the most.

The Governor’s plan leverages federal dollars for lead line replacements ($102.1 million), bonding authority for water quality improvements ($290 million), one-time General Fund money for drinking water infrastructure ($105 million), and asset management grants to help locals governments update their wastewater and stormwater systems ($2.9 million). According to EPA projections, these investments will also help support 7,500 jobs in Michigan. The announcement was applauded by legislators on both sides of the aisle, as well as public health officials and municipal leaders.

Although Michigan LCV wholeheartedly appreciates the MI Clean Water plan and is optimistic about its role in tackling these large scale problems in a timely manner, this action was awarded a weight of 1 due to there being no new spending on water infrastructure, only the prioritization and discretion of existing flexible funds. Nevertheless, this plan shows Governor Whitmer is listening to the voices of underserved communities and is serious about tackling water quality and affordability issues that have festered in our state for decades.