Outdated federal water laws and chemicals that were approved for industry without assessing for risk leave Ann Arbor and other communities struggling to ward off water contaminants before they foul drinking supplies.
Climate change is already affecting the Great Lakes. One group is urging Michigan, other Great Lakes states and Canadian provinces to coordinate efforts to make the Great Lakes basin more resilient to those changes.
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.