National Water Infrastructure Conference in Flint Brings Together Experts to Examine Need for Reinvestment in Water Infrastructure

Contact: Tiffany Brown, brownt22@michigan.gov 517-242-1376
Agency: Environmental Quality

March 7, 2017

FLINT, Mich. - Today kicked off the three-day “Water Infrastructure Conference: A National Conversation in Flint” hosted by the City of Flint and State of Michigan. The conference is bringing together experts from around the world to explore national water infrastructure issues, share lessons learned from the City of Flint and other cities around the country, and discuss new technologies and innovations concerning infrastructure.

Governor Rick Snyder and Mayor Karen Weaver served as two of today’s keynote speakers.

“This conference is a great example of how so many people have come together to recognize a growing crisis with our infrastructure, which is the backbone of communities,” said Governor Rick Snyder. “Our nation’s infrastructure challenges are serious and wide-ranging, and we need to act with urgency to make Michigan and the U.S. an even better place to live.”

"I am excited about the Water Infrastructure Conference that is being hosted here in the city of Flint," said Mayor Karen Weaver. "It's great to know that some of the most brilliant minds from around the country will be attending and having dialogue about not only Flint's infrastructure, but how lessons learned from us can be applied all over the country because this is not just a Flint problem but a national problem."

Other speakers today included:

  • Keith Creagh, Director, Michigan Department of Natural Resources
  • Robert A. Kaplan, Acting Regional Administrator, U.S. EPA Region 5
  • Gary Brown, Director, Detroit Water and Sewerage Department
  • Brig. Gen. (ret.) Michael C. McDaniel, Director, FAST Start Program, City of Flint
  • David LaFrance, CEO, American Water Works Association

Over the following days, speakers will discuss and share best practices related to right-sized and flexible water infrastructure to meet the changing needs of communities, as well as incorporating innovative and emerging technologies to solve complex infrastructure issues nationally. The conference also includes collaborative breakout sessions and exhibitor displays.

The conference will wrap up with a free general public water infrastructure workshop on Thursday from 2 to 4:30 p.m. to provide a better understanding of complex waterworks systems. Presentations will address how water travels to and from a household, as well as how it is tested, treated and regulated. Industry experts, federal, state and local officials will be available to answer questions.

A detailed list of the conference agenda can be found at www.michigan.gov/deqevents.

Lead in Flint’s drinking water and a sewer line collapse in Fraser has prompted local, state and national conversations about the urgent need for reinvestment in critical water infrastructure.

In March 2016, Gov. Rick Snyder created the 21st Century Infrastructure Commission. The Commission developed a list of 110 solutions to improve Michigan’s infrastructure and enhance the quality of life for all Michiganders.

The 21st Century Infrastructure Commission worked diligently to provide a long-term infrastructure strategy that addresses Michigan’s needs for the next 30-50 years in the areas of transportation, water, sewer, stormwater, wastewater treatment and drainage, energy, and communications. The Commission's report can be viewed by clicking the following link www.michigan.gov/snyder/0,4668,7-277-61409_78737---,00.html.

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