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Executive Directive 2021-10
November 22, 2021
To: State Department Directors and Autonomous Agency Heads
From: Governor Gretchen Whitmer
Date: November 22, 2021
Re: Replacing lead service lines and improving Michigan's water infrastructure
The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will provide Michigan with unprecedented and much-needed federal support to improve water infrastructure and ensure safe drinking water is available in all communities. State departments will play a critical role in mobilizing these dollars and ensuring they are spent responsibly, efficiently, and in compliance with the law.
Michigan's goal is clear: safe drinking water for everyone. Over the last several years, our state has been the national leader in prioritizing safe drinking water. Under Michigan's Lead and Copper Rule, we are replacing every lead service line in the state in the next 20 years - at a rate no less than 5% annually. And lead pipes must be replaced even faster - 7% annually - whenever water testing reveals lead levels in excess of 15 ppb. In September, I put forward a plan to significantly expedite this timeline by investing an additional $200 million to replace lead service lines in communities across the state.
Lead is not safe at any level. Exposure to this toxin harms brain development in children and causes both short and long-term health problems for adults. Drinking water is one of the leading causes of lead exposure. Although Michigan was the first state to require removal of every lead pipe delivering water to residents' homes, more than 450,000 Michigan homes are still serviced by lead pipes, the third highest of any state. We simply cannot wait to act: every child should be able to turn on the tap and pour a glass of safe, clear drinking water.
Within state government, the primary departments involved in mobilizing federal dollars for lead service line replacement are the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy; the Department of Technology, Management, and Budget; and the Department of Transportation. The Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity and the Department of Treasury also have roles to play, supporting the talented workers needed to install new service lines and ensuring that federal tax dollars are spent wisely.
Acting under sections 1 and 8 of article 5 of the Michigan Constitution of 1963, I direct the following:
- The State Budget Office must work with the Legislature to leverage the federal dollars available to Michigan for water infrastructure to accelerate lead service line replacement in communities across this state, ahead of the already-accelerated schedule required by Michigan's Lead and Copper Rule.
- Consistent with Executive Directive 2019-15, all state departments must work expeditiously to ensure that water infrastructure projects in this state rely on Michigan businesses that create jobs for Michigan workers.
- Reflecting our ethos of "dig once," state departments must encourage local and community partners to use tools that allow for infrastructure asset managers to coordinate on project plans and timing, including the "Dig Once" project portal, so that communities can upgrade not only their water infrastructure, but also high-speed internet, road, and other utility infrastructure without cutting through pavement and dirt multiple times.
- Reflecting the need to spend federal dollars responsibly, the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), the Department of Technology, Management, and Budget (DTMB), and the Department of Treasury must develop and assess strategies to control the cost of replacing lead service lines without sacrificing capacity. These departments must jointly report to me and the Legislature with any recommendations as soon as possible.
- EGLE, DTMB, the Department of Treasury, and the Department of Transportation must work expeditiously to share best practices and technical support with local and tribal government partners to leverage the state's capabilities in deploying infrastructure dollars and complying with relevant regulations and oversight responsibilities. These state departments should look for opportunities to educate and engage with stakeholders regarding use of federal infrastructure dollars.
- Reflecting the fact that our changing climate is causing more extreme weather events that result in Michiganders being inundated with floodwaters, EGLE must work with local communities and water contractors to improve flood resiliency when replacing lead service lines wherever possible.
- All state departments must work expeditiously to ensure access to federal money for lead service line replacement for communities that have been disproportionately burdened by lead in their drinking water and communities that require financial or technical assistance to use water infrastructure dollars.
- Reflecting the need for skilled plumbers and water technicians, the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) must work expeditiously to build competency in the workforce to fully leverage federal dollars for water infrastructure. Among other means, LEO must work with community colleges, trade associations, and labor unions to build capacity to train the skilled professionals who will build the water infrastructure of Michigan's future.
This directive is effective immediately.
Thank you for your cooperation in implementing this directive.