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Registration now open for the first-ever Great Lakes Water Infrastructure Conference

Logo for Water Infrastructure Conference April 2020

Registration is now open for the 2020 Great Lakes Water Infrastructure Conference, a first-of-its-kind regional conference hosted by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), April 28-30, at the Suburban Showcase in Novi, Michigan.

The conference will focus on the water infrastructure challenges faced by the Great Lakes region and solutions to those challenges.

And in Michigan, like many Great Lakes states, there are many challenges. According to the "How Investing in Michigan’s Water Infrastructure Protects Our Economy, Creates Jobs and Drives Growth" report by E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs):

  • Michigan’s overall water infrastructure network includes: 150,000 miles of sewer, 38,000 miles of storm sewer pipe, 1.6 million inlets and catch basins, 725,000 manholes, 1.3 million septic systems, 500,000 lead service lines, and 35,000 regulated county storm water drains, to name a few. This sprawling system delivers 481 million gallons of drinking water — the lifeblood for all of us — to faucets in Michigan homes every day.
  • Michigan spends $90 less per capita annually than the U.S. average on infrastructure for drinking and stormwater, sewers, and dams.
  • The American Society of Civil Engineers, meanwhile, gives low grades for various Michigan water system components: drinking water (D), stormwater (D-) and wastewater (C).

For the region, according to the Great Lakes Commission Water Infrastructure Priorities for the Great Lakes Region Report, the Great Lakes hold 90% of our nation's supply of fresh surface water and more than 48 million Americans and Canadians depend on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River for drinking water. The majority of our region's wastewater systems are between 50 and 150 years old and many municipalities are unable to meet rising costs to maintain and upgrade their systems. According the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), over the next 20 years almost $180 billion is needed to repair and upgrade our drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in the Great Lakes region.

We also know that with the changing climate, the Great Lakes are experiencing the highest water levels since 1986, and storms and wave action are causing erosion and flooding of the shoreline, and infrastructure issues are also a concern. These high water elevations can affect and have affected discharges from municipal wastewater treatment plants and industrial discharges and could also affect sewer lines and storm water best management practices. Based on information obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, it is EGLE's understanding that Great Lakes water levels may increase in many places by roughly one foot in the next year.

With these challenges come numerous solutions and opportunities from both private and public sectors. Attend the Great Lakes Water Infrastructure Conference in April to hear from experts around the country who are finding solutions to these challenges. Register today and join hundreds of professionals and community members in the national conversation about the urgent need for reinvestment in critical water infrastructure.

"We live in a unique place on the planet, surrounded by the world's greatest freshwater ecosystem," said Liesl Clark, EGLE director. "With that privilege comes responsibility  protecting the systems and structures that keep that water safe for drinking, swimming, fishing, boating and wildlife. We are thrilled to bring together such an impressive roster of people dedicated to that goal, and willing to listen and learn from one another."

Conference highlights include:

Expert plenary speakers from around the country:

  • Tracy Mehan, Executive Director, Government Affairs at American Water Works Association (AWWA)
    • A Portfolio Approach to Water Infrastructure Finance
  • Manny Teodoro, PhD, Associate Professor, Texas A&M University
    • The Plan: a five-point proposal to transform the U.S. water sector
  • Ridgway White, President and CEO, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
  • Melissa Osborne,Senior Manager of Asset Planning for the City of Windsor, Ontario
    • Growth and Development of Asset Management Throughout Windsor and Ontario, Canada
  • Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells, CEO of the NE Ohio Regional Sewer District
    • Watersheds, Equity and Affordability: A utility for the 21st century
  • Jim Maczko, NOAA National Weather Service
    • Precipitation Trends and the Impact of Extreme Weather Events on Communities in the Great Lakes Region
  • Over 80 concurrent presentations in eight tracks will cover topics focused on funding and finance mechanisms, water affordability, environmental health, water infrastructure planning and reinvestment, innovative water quality solutions, green infrastructure techniques, high waters, cybersecurity strategy, and communications practices.
  • Networking opportunities with up to 1,000 professionals from around the Great Lakes region, including federal, state, and local officials.
  • Exhibitors of innovative technology.
  • Continuing education credits for professional engineers, drinking water operators, wastewater operators, and floodplain managers.

We are anticipating approximately 800-1,000 attendees, including municipal officials, water professionals, academia, nonprofits, as well as state and local officials from around the country.

Attend all 3 days for just $175 (if registered by April 6). Register on the EGLE website.

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