Whitmer Proposes $300 Million Expansion Of MI Clean Water Plan

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is proposing $300 million to help Michigan communities protect the safety of their water systems. Th governor’s office released the proposal Thursday:

Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer proposed a $300 million expansion of the MI Clean Water Plan, building on a previously announced, $200 million expansion to replace lead service lines statewide by using federal dollars delivered to Michigan under the American Rescue Plan. Between these two expansions and previous announcements, the governor has proposed investing $885 million in a comprehensive slate of water plans that would use a combination of state and federal funds to build up water infrastructure in our communities, schools, and homes while creating tens of thousands of good-paying jobs.

“Every Michigander in every community deserves access to safe drinking water, and we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity right now to use the federal dollars we have to put Michiganders first and make lasting investments in our water infrastructure,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “Together, we can utilize the resources we have to create thousands of good-paying jobs, deliver safe water to every home and kid in school, and shore up our water infrastructure to make it more resilient to extreme weather. I look forward to the $1.3 billion in federal funding specifically for water that we will get, among billions more, from the bipartisan federal infrastructure plan.”

Since taking office, the Whitmer-Gilchrist Administration has invested $1.87 billion dollars in drinking water, wastewater, and storm water – more than the previous five years-from 2014 to 2018-combined – creating or supporting over 26,700 jobs.

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“With renewed focus on lead in Michigan’s aging drinking water service lines and plumbing these resources are helpful in giving communities the tools they need to accelerate the essential work of removing lead from water systems,” said Liesl Clark, Director of the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. “Fixing decades-old problems as fast as possible requires commitment and teamwork from local, state, federal and non-governmental partners. This strengthens those partnerships and commitments.”

“For too long, a lack of investment in our water has left us with crumbling infrastructure, unaffordable rates, lead pipes and toxic contamination. The time to fund our water is now. We can’t wait any longer,” said Lisa Wozniak, Executive Director of Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “The investments proposed by Governor Whitmer are a step toward re-establishing Michigan as a national leader in protecting our water and our health, and we call on lawmakers to join together at this pivotal moment to invest now for future generations to come.”

“Clean drinking water and efficient stormwater management are issues that are important to every resident in the state of Michigan,” said Douglas Stockwell, Business Manager of Operating Engineers 324. “Making an investment in ourselves and our residents through water infrastructure is not only necessary and smart for the impact it has on our safety, but also an efficient way to create jobs that support our communities.”

“Safe drinking water is a medical and public health necessity, yet children across this state and nation continue to suffer the consequences of old and dangerous infrastructure,” said Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha. “Thanks to state and federal support, we are quickly reversing decades of disinvestment and working to deliver safe drinking water for all Michigan kids and families.”

MI Clean Water Community Support Expansion

A $300 million expansion of the MI Clean Water Plan with investments in three key areas.

Lead Action Level Exceedance Community Support Program – $100 million

Community water supplies are required by law to routinely sample a certain number of distribution points, such as homes, to verify whether lead is in the drinking water. An Action Level Exceedance (ALE) occurs when more than 10% of the sample locations have greater than 15 parts per billion of lead in the water. This program will allow communities to access funds at any point in the year if they experience an ALE. It is intended to offer immediate support to replace water lines or provide other solutions for communities.

This investment could create or support up to 1,500 jobs.

Community Technical, Managerial, and Financial Support Program – $50 million

The replacement of LSLs and other water infrastructure upgrades requires upfront engineering and project management. In some cases, communities cannot afford to pay engineering firms to complete this crucial planning. These funds would support planning and project management in communities and offers evaluations and recommendations for long-term technical, managerial, and financial support. Priority will be placed on disadvantaged communities and those with ALEs.

Impaired Community Water Relief Program – $150 million

This program aims to shift individuals off contaminated water sources or poorly performing systems to an alternative safe community water supply. It helps communities address PFAS, arsenic, and other contaminants found in drinking water systems and expands on the existing program established in the MI Clean Water Plan. These funds will be distributed to community water suppliers to help them expand their system and connect homeowners, schools, daycares, and others who are currently getting water from contaminated, non-community wells to the community water supply’s safe drinking water system.  In addition, the funding could be used for relocation of a contaminated or threatened community water well if no opportunity for consolidation with other systems exists or consolidation of systems where significant or sustained non-compliance is present. This program would complement a private well, septic replacement program for low-income homeowners (included within the MI Clean Water Plan) to provide across the board assistance for residents with drinking water challenges.

This investment could create or support up to 2,250 jobs.

Outstanding Water Proposals

MI Clean Water Plan

The MI Clean Water Plan started as a $500 million investment in drinking water, source water, and wastewater infrastructure that would support 7,500 good-paying jobs, address high water rates, lead-laden water service lines, toxic contaminants like PFAS, sewers that can’t meet demand, and failing septic systems. To date, $210 million of the plan has been obligated to rebuild drinking water infrastructure but $290 million still needs to be appropriated for clean water infrastructure improvements.

Lead Service Line Replacement Expansion

A proposed $200 million expansion of the MI Clean Water Plan to replace LSLs statewide to support 3,000 jobs.

Filter First

A proposed $55 million investment from the governor’s FY 2021 executive budget recommendation to install drinking water filter stations in schools.

Home Plumbing Repairs

A proposed $40 million investment to provide home repair and plumbing assistance to support minor home and plumbing repair needs for residents with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level. Part of the larger MI Healthy Communities plan to expand care for families, build up facilities, and invest in local public health with federal relief dollars from the American Rescue Plan.

Federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan

The State of Michigan is expected to receive an estimated $1.3 billion specifically for water infrastructure from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan. The water proposals listed above are separate from the water infrastructure funding Michigan is expected to receive from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan.