Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced her plan for a $500 million statewide investment in water infrastructure Thursday, providing funding to improve Michigan’s water systems “from source to tap.”
The funding would be used to address infrastructure issues like Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in water, unaffordable water rates, lead service line replacements, and undersized sewers.
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician who helped expose the Flint water crisis, praised the plan.
“At a time when the federal government has retreated from science and public health protections, Michigan is once again leading the nation to rebuild the critical infrastructure necessary to keep Michiganders healthy and safe,” Hanna-Attisha said. “It is proactive investments like this that will prevent future public health crises, reduce inequities, and ensure the promise of generations of Michiganders to come.”
Funds for the investment would come from a combination of $102.1 million in federal dollars, $290 million from state-issued bonds, $105 million from a one-time state budget appropriation and $2.9 million in asset management grants.
Local governments would be able to apply for grants or loans from the combined pool of money. The Republican-controlled Legislature would need to approve the plan before some of the funds would become available.
“The MI Clean Water investment will help us rebuild Michigan’s water infrastructure and will prioritize and invest directly into protecting our public health, environment, and economy,” Whitmer said in a statement. “The MI Clean Water Plan is a critical part of the solution, but the work cannot stop here. I look forward to working with the legislature to find creative solutions to address our water infrastructure backlog.”
The plan would spend $207.1 million of the funds to ensure drinking water quality, including by replacing lead service lines in disadvantaged communities, treating water to meet lead and copper standards, removing PFAS and other contaminants, and providing affordability grants.
The other $293 million of funding would be invested in wastewater protection, including to stop sewer overflows, increase use of green infrastructure, eliminate failing septic systems, and stop discharges of raw sewage from surface or ground water.