More than 1,500 Michigan residences had water service reconnected or avoided planned shutoffs as a result of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-28, requiring public water supplies to restore water service to occupied residences where service had been terminated due to nonpayment.
The reconnection of water services was ordered to facilitate hand washing and other critical personal hygiene measures vital to preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus during the current State of Emergency.
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) has compiled a list of more than 200 public water systems that reported reconnection information, as required under the order, in a spreadsheet that can be accessed here. The report reflects that many water systems began reconnections of residences prior to the executive order.
“The restoration of water service to these homes through Governor Whitmer’s actions helps some of our most vulnerable during this challenging time and gives Michiganders access to the tools they need to protect themselves,” said Liesl Clark, EGLE director.
The order also requires systems that have used shutoff for nonpayment in the last year to report back on their efforts to identify and restore services, including the number of residences that do not have water as a result of shutoffs, the number that don’t have water services for other reasons, and an explanation of the system’s best efforts to locate and restore water services.
EGLE recognizes that restrictions and complications from the COVID-19 pandemic and the state’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order may complicate efforts to comply with the reporting directive, particularly for smaller water systems with limited staffing. The agency intends to work with water system operators to ensure compliance with both the reconnection requirements and reporting obligations. Systems are required to submit a supplemental report every 30 days until it submits a report that states all provisions of E.O. 2020-28 have been met. The online spreadsheet will be regularly updated as new information warrants.
In order to assist communities with assuring all Michigan residents have access to water, EGLE has developed a grant program to provide funding to help communities reconnect water to residences and is working with municipal water systems to facilitate that process. Communities interested in the grant program to assist with reconnection can send an email to EGLE-RestartGrants@Michigan.gov to begin the process.