Gov. Gretchen Whitmer calls for water reconnections statewide, establishes fund to help communities comply
Clean water for sanitation essential to protection from COVID-19 virus
LANSING, MICH – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer took strong steps today to ensure at-risk households have access to clean water for hand washing and sanitation through an executive order requiring the reconnection of service to residences that have had water service shut off. A $2-million Water Restart Grant Program will help communities comply with the order.
“This is a critical step both for the health of families living without a reliable water source, and for slowing the spread of the Coronavirus,” said Whitmer. “We continue to work to provide all Michiganders – regardless of their geography or income level – the tools they need to keep themselves and their communities protected.”
The order requires public water suppliers to immediately identify residences in their service area that do not currently have water service, and to make best efforts to restore service to homes where the service has been disconnected due to non-payment or damaged infrastructure. The order also includes reporting and accountability requirements.
The order is effective for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency. It does not absolve anyone from responsibility for past-due bills.
To assist communities in complying with the order, a $2-million fund has been established through Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). The Water Restart Grant Program will provide funding to local communities to help reconnect homes to their water supplies.
EGLE will provide limited grants to communities based on available funds. Grants will be provided to high-risk areas. Requirements for the grants will include the following:
Communities interested in accessing the funding should email EGLE-RestartGrants@michigan.gov
“Michiganders need clean water in their homes now more than ever to protect their health and slow the spread of COVID-19 by washing their hands,” said Robert Gordon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). “MDHHS is pleased to work to help connect families to critical services and remove barriers to good health practices.”
Those reconnecting to municipal water must first thoroughly flush stagnant water pipes and clean filter screens to remove accumulations of lead and other bacteria that can accumulate in stagnant water. Step-by-step instructions on how to do so are available through this instructional video.
Liesl Clark, director of the state’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, said the Restart Program it is one of numerous steps the agency is taking to ensure clean, uninterrupted water to Michiganders. “We are also working with water plant operators to ensure continuation of safe, reliable water under various scenarios,” she said. “Keeping water flowing, and restoring service where necessary, is vital to defending our state’s residents against COVID-19.”
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that can result in serious illness or death. With COVID-19 present world-wide, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has developed guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Individuals are encouraged to wash their hands often to prevent the spread of the disease.
To view Executive Order 2020-28, click the link below:
This press release will be translated and made available in Arabic and Spanish at www.michigan.gov/whitmer.