Directly following EGLE’s Great Lakes Water Infrastructure Conference, MI Environment highlights the actions taken to address Michigan’s infrastructure challenges, as outlined by EGLE Director Liesl Clark in an article in the State of the Great Lakes report and in the recent signed bipartisan building described Michigan plan together.
Recent wet weather and high water levels have given communities a sobering taste of the challenges we face in an age of climate-related extreme weather. Fueled by more frequent violent storms, all of that water has endangered lives, caused extensive property damage, and resulted in huge repair bills for local governments and Michigan citizens.
Climate change and water events have exposed Michigan’s underinvestment in infrastructure. It was evident at the Edenville and Sanford dam failures and as we watched flood waters encroach on private property and public infrastructure, crumbling streets and houses in its path. Last summer’s storms overwhelmed underground systems that couldn’t keep up, flooding streets and basements and dumping sewage into waterways and eventually the Great Lakes.
This year’s State of the Great Lakes Report focuses on the activities and programs that are implementing solutions to the problems Michigan is facing. It is vital that we respond to current issues and anticipate challenges that promise to grow without our doing. From resilient communities to sustainable water use and groundwater issues, the report emphasizes the interconnectedness of Michigan’s waters.
The year 2021 marked a tipping point in terms of investing in our water infrastructure, making progress in decarbonizing our economy and building our state’s resilience.
- The Council on Climate Solutions is working to implement MI’s Healthy Climate Plan to create a roadmap to 100% decarbonization by 2050.
- EGLE’s Catalyst Communities program provides training and technical support for local leaders, demonstrating climate-resilient pathways into the future.
- The Michigan Coastal Management Program created its Coastal Leadership Academy to bring together community leaders and planners to address the challenges of coastal resilience.
Investing in climate change adaptation, mitigation and resilience strategies will save tax dollars in the long run. According to the National Institute of Building Sciences, for every $1 invested in federal mitigation grants, taxpayers can save $6.
All of these investments are made with overburdened and low-income communities in mind. Smart climate solutions can promote equity and environmental justice in Michigan communities. Michigan’s march to decarbonization over the next three decades can make the Great Lakes State a better state.
It’s time to rebuild Michigan’s infrastructure to address current challenges and create a strong foundation for our future economic growth. From groundwater to surface water to the Great Lakes, the 1,300 EGLE employees who work with me carry out this mission with a focus on protecting the health and environment of Michiganans.
We can expect great progress through the implementation of the Building Michigan Together Plan, which Governor Whitmer signed into law in March 2022. The guiding principles for funding include:
- Address environmental and public health priorities
- Reduce treatment, collection and distribution costs
- Prioritizing funding for communities implementing asset management plans
- Prioritizing funding for disadvantaged communities
- Facilitating economic growth in communities while promoting sustainability and resilience
- Supporting the one-time-dig philosophy
The plan includes:
- More than $1 billion for drinking water improvements, including:
- At least $325 million to replace lead service lines, including 100% of the lead service lines at Benton Harbor.
- $55 million to help communities fight toxic pollutants like PFAS.
- $43 million in support for small and disadvantaged communities.
- $712 million for clean water initiatives to address stormwater and wastewater, including:
- $669 million for clean water infrastructure.
- $35 million for loans to repair broken sewer systems.
- $20 million for health risk reduction.
- $8 million to fight emerging pollutants.
- $210 million for dam repairs in Midland and Gladwin counties, and an additional $40 million for dam repair, renovation, or removal statewide.
subtitle: A new water pipe is being installed as part of the modernization of the municipal drinking water infrastructure.
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