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State awarded $61 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help communities remove lead service lines

EGLE efforts recognized nationally as Michigan designated leading state with an “A” grade in incorporating equity into water infrastructure funding programs

The State of Michigan has been allotted $61.9 million by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for lead water service line removal projects. This announcement came on the heels of a report giving Michigan an “A” grade in integrating water equity into its water funding programs. With this announcement, the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) will have injected $695 million into water infrastructure projects in cities, towns, and villages across the state. 

“Governor Whitmer and I are working hard to ensure Michiganders know their water is safe,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. “We’ve invested hundreds of millions to protect the quality of drinking water, upgrade water infrastructure, and replace lead service lines in communities across Michigan. We also established the strongest lead and copper rules for drinking water in the country. Today’s $61.9 million investment by the Biden Administration will provide crucial support as we continue to replace lead lines and protect drinking water for Michigan families. Governor Whitmer and I will keep standing tall for clean drinking water in Michigan.”

The new funding will run through the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s (EGLE) Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) and support the state’s MI Clean Water Plan. These new resources complement state and local efforts to accelerate lead service line removal, protecting families from lead contamination, rebuilding our infrastructure, and supporting good-paying jobs. More than half of EGLE’s budget is returned to communities in the form of grants and loans.

“The State of Michigan is committed to protect every family from lead contamination and build confidence in our drinking water systems,” said EGLE Director Phil Roos. “Under Governor Whitmer’s leadership, the state has leveraged billions in state and federal resources to rebuild Michigan’s water infrastructure and remove lead pipes, but our work isn’t done. These additional resources from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help us increase the pace of rebuilding and modernizing Michigan’s water infrastructure.”

EGLE’s Drinking Water SRF will administer these new resources. The Drinking Water SRF is a low-interest loan program to help public water systems finance the costs of replacement and repair of drinking water infrastructure projects designed to protect public health and achieve or maintain compliance with federal Safe Drinking Water Act requirements.

This week, Michigan was named a top state and given an “A” grade in incorporating equity into administering state water infrastructure funds and overall effectiveness of administering funds. This recognition builds on years of efforts, including recent bipartisan legislative changes, to ensure EGLE’s water infrastructure dollars and SRF programs are easy for communities to access, go as far as possible, and are targeted to the communities with the most need.

“President Biden’s commitment to revitalizing America’s infrastructure has provided Michigan with a transformative opportunity,” said Zachary Kolodin, chief infrastructure officer and director of the Michigan Infrastructure Office. “By investing federal dollars in our aging water infrastructure, we’re ensuring clean drinking water for families and creating local, sustainable jobs that are vital to our communities’ growth and prosperity.” 

This BIL investment comes on the tail of Governor Gretchen Whitmer announcing a $290 million expansion of the MI Clean Water Plan utilizing existing bonding authority from the bipartisan, voter-approved 2002 Great Lakes Water Quality Protection Bond to support critical water infrastructure projects — from lead service line removals to wastewater plant rehabilitations — in communities across the state. 

Additionally, in February, the Governor proposed an executive budget recommendation that included over $83 million for water infrastructure improvements, $40 million of which is focused on enabling lead service line removal projects; and additional employees in EGLE’s Drinking Water Program to ensure everyone’s drinking water is protected. 

Since January 2019, the State of Michigan has been able to invest over $4 billion to upgrade drinking water, stormwater, and wastewater facilities across the state. 

While the state has made significant investments, they are not enough to meet the needs of Michigan communities. Most of the state’s water systems are over 50 years old, and a significant portion are approaching 100 years of service life. Recent reports have highlighted that Michigan has an annual gap of between $860 million to $1.1 billion in water infrastructure needs due to decades of deferred maintenance. The need from communities across the state is substantial. 

In addition to investing in our infrastructure, the EPA has found that every $1 million invested in water infrastructure supports 15 jobs, and studies have shown that every $1 invested in water infrastructure brings $6 in economic returns. 

Find more information on the state’s MI Clean Water Plan webpage and in the EPA’s announcement.

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