Fresh on the heels EGLE’s Great Lakes Water Infrastructure ConferenceMI Environment has highlighted the actions taken to address infrastructure issues in Michigan, as outlined by Liesl Clark, Director at EGLE in an article in the State of the Great Lakes reportThe bipartisan agreement was signed recently Building Michigan Together Plan.
Recent extreme weather events and high water levels have shown communities the seriousness of climate-linked extreme weather. All that water, fueled by more intense storms, has caused significant property damage, put lives at risk, and left Michiganders with huge repair bills.
Michigan’s insufficient infrastructure investment has been exposed by climate change and water events. It was evident in the Sanford and Edenville dam failures, and as we watched high waters encroach upon private property and public infrastructure, destroying roads and homes. Last summer’s storms flooded basements and roads, flooding roads and sending sewage into the waterways and eventually into the Great Lakes.
The State of the Great Lakes Report for 2015 focuses on the programs, activities, and solutions that are being implemented to address the problems facing Michigan. It is crucial that we address current issues and take action to prevent future challenges. The report highlights the interconnectedness of Michigan’s waterways, from resilient communities to sustainable water use to groundwater problems.
2021 was a turning point in the investment process for water infrastructure. This allowed us to make progress towards decarbonizing our economy and increasing our state’s resilience.
- The Council on Climate Solutions works on the implementation and maintenance of the MI Healthy Climate plan, which will create a roadmap to 100% carbonization by 2050.
- EGLE’s Catalyst Communities Program provides technical assistance and training to local leaders who will create climate-resilient paths forward.
- The Michigan Coastal Management Program established the Coastal Leadership Academy in order to bring together community leaders as well as planners to address coastal resilience problems.
Taxpayers will save money long-term by investing in climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies. According to the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), taxpayers can save $6 for every $1 they invest in federal mitigation grants.
All of this investment was made with low-income, overburdened communities at heart. Wise climate solutions are possible to improve equity and environmental justice in Michigan communities. The Great Lakes State can become a better place if it continues to decarbonize in the next three decades.
The time is right for Michigan to rebuild its infrastructure. It will address the current challenges and provide a solid base for economic growth. With a view to protecting Michiganders’ environment and health, EGLE’s 1,300 staffers work with me to accomplish this mission – from groundwater to surface waters to the Great Lakes.
Implementation of the Building Michigan Together Plan, signed by Governor Whitmer in March 2022, will make great strides. The following are the guiding principles for funding:
- Priorities for public and environmental health
- Reduced costs for treatment, collection, distribution
- Prioritizing funding for communities that implement asset management plans
- Prioritizing funding for disadvantaged communities
- Facilitating economic growth within communities while encouraging sustainability and resilience
- Supporting the dig once philosophy
The plan includes:
- More than $1 billion has been spent on drinking water improvements, including:
- To replace lead service lines, at least $325 million, including 100% in Benton Harbor.
- $55 million will be used to help communities combat toxic contaminants such as PFAS.
- $43 million in assistance for small- and disadvantaged areas.
- $712 million to support clean water initiatives that address storms and wastewater.
- Clean water infrastructure: $$669 Million
- $35 million to finance the repair of failing septic systems
- $20 million for public health risk reduction.
- $8 million to address emerging pollutants
- $210 million to fix dams in Midland, Gladwin, and other counties. Another $40 million will be used to address repairs, renovations, or elimination of dams throughout the state.
CaptionNew water main installed as part municipal drinking water infrastructure improvements.