Gov. Gretchen Whitmer puts $500 million towards our water

On October 1st, Gov. Whitmer announced plans to spend $500 million of existing money to protect our water by investing in infrastructure and getting lead service lines out.

Nathan Murphy

It’s easy for good environmental news to get lost in the deluge of everything going on. Given that, it’s worth highlighting Gov. Whitmer’s October 1st announcement of a plan to dedicate $500 million to water infrastructure and drinking water protection. Here’s a good article in Bridge Magazine. From the article:

Much of the money comes from existing sources and will be spent over several years: $290 million in bonding authority from the 2002 voter-approved Great Lakes Water Quality Bond, $105 million in general fund dollars the Legislature approved in 2019, $102.1 million in federal revolving loan fund money for lead service line replacement in low-income communities, and $2.9 million in grants for local stormwater and wastewater systems.

One thing that jumps out at me is the proposal to spend money from a voter approved bond initiative that we’ve had sitting around since 2002. That is, in 2002 Michiganders said “sell bonds and use the money to help our waters.” I used to work in the legislature and always wondered why we hadn’t used that money as Michiganders intended. I’m happy to see that money getting used to protect our water.

The second thing that jumps out at me is using $102.1 million in federal funds to remove lead service lines in low-income communities. We’ve advocated for Michigan to Get The Lead Out for a number of years. We know it’s not just Flint. There’s still about 400,000 lead service lines around Michigan. It’s long past time we got serious about getting that toxic metal out of our drinking water systems. This money is a good downpayment on those actions.

I think the bottom line here is there’s some real steps forward for Michigan’s water. But experts tell us we have a long way to go to the tune of billions of dollars. We need to work at all levels of government and invest in our water. It’s too precious to put on the back burner.


Nathan Murphy