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EGLE focuses on closing the water infrastructure funding gap
May 18, 2022
During United for Infrastructure Week, MI Environment looks at the need and the funding for water infrastructure in Michigan.
Michiganders deserve clean drinking water as well as healthy lakes and streams. Quality infrastructure is the backbone to achieving that goal, and the needs are significant. Communities across the state need upgrades to their treatment plants, drinking water service lines, and sewer systems. But an essential component is ensuring affordability for residents – particularly those in underserved communities.
Smart investments help ensure clean drinking water and healthy streams, lakes and groundwater within the state. They also strengthen the economy and workforce by creating jobs, improving health and quality of life, protecting the environment, enhancing tourism, and setting the stage for Michigan’s future success.
Evaluations over the last several years have helped quantify the needs. The American Society of Civil Engineers regularly rates each state’s infrastructure; Michigan has historically been rated a “D-” overall. More specifically, bridges, dams, energy, solid waste, and wastewater fall within the “C” range; while drinking water, roads, schools, and stormwater fall within the “D” range. A past initiative by Governor Rick Snyder brought together a wide range of experts who issued the 21st Century Infrastructure Report. This report identified an $800 million annual need in water infrastructure funding.
How do we close the infrastructure gap? The key is partnerships at multiple levels. The State Revolving Fund plays an important role, but it isn’t intended to be the only option. Federal programs, including those provided by the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development or portions of the new federal infrastructure funds, can provide assistance. Additionally, local units of government can bond or move forward with private financing though user fees to support the needs of the community.
More than $7 billion has been allocated since 1988 for 1,100 projects under the Revolving Funds, an average of $205 million spread among 32 projects per year.
Public Act 53, signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer in April of 2022, seeks to reduce the financial burden to communities and address infrastructure needs to protect public health and the environment. Act 53 provides $4.7 billion of infrastructure funding, including $1.9 billion to be administered by EGLE. Funding is included from three separate funds: American Rescue Plan Act, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and General Fund.