The Great Lakes News Collaborative asked state and national experts how Michigan could break the cycle of underfunding and poor decision-making that has left water systems across Michigan in sorry shape.
Bridge Michigan reporter Kelly House and Circle of Blue reporter Brett Walton moderated a Zoom discussion for Bridge readers with three experts about the state and region’s decrepit water infrastructure.
Michigan is set to receive the federal infrastructure funds over the next five years, significantly boosting its lending capacity. The funds allow more communities to reinvest in essential public works without saddling residents with all the costs.
Data compiled by the Institute for Public Utilities at Michigan State University shows that water prices are climbing quickly — more quickly, until recent price spikes, than most other goods and services.
Septic systems are common around Elk Lake and many other lake communities. If they’re maintained, they usually manage to keep bacteria and viruses in check. But failing systems can allow contaminated water to seep into nearby bodies of water.
Michigan cities rich and poor, big and small have been delaying maintenance on their water systems for decades. Now, even wealthy towns are suffering the consequences of past reluctance to pay for water system upkeep.
On May 11, Bridge Michigan environment reporter Kelly House and Circle of Blue’s Brett Walton will moderate a Zoom discussion about the crisis of crumbling water infrastructure in our state and region.
Legal experts say the public trust doctrine in Michigan should be expanded to protect groundwater, but they don't think legislators should target water bottling operations. They believe all users should be treated the same.
The Michigan Public Service Commission included climate change impact as it considers Enbridge Energy's request to move its Line 5 oil pipeline from the lake bed of the Mackinac Straits to a proposed tunnel under the Straits.
There are an estimated 330,000 failing systems across Michigan, costing many thousands of dollars to repair. A measure touted as having bipartisan support would use American Rescue Plan funds to help pay the expense.
Cleaning sites like the Detroit River and Saginaw Bay is a priority for spending new funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Advocates say the money is a good start but much more is needed.