Michigan invests over $958 million in lead service line removals

(UI) — The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) last week joined officials from the City of Detroit and the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) for a press conference highlighting recent transformational investments in removing lead service lines.

EGLE Director Phil Roos joined officials from the City of Detroit and the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department on May 10, 2024 to highlight recent transformational investments in removing lead service lines. (Image source: Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy)

Since 2019, DWSD has received more than $85 million through EGLE’s funding programs specifically to replace lead service lines, part of more than $216 million in EGLE grants and loans to the city for overall drinking water system investments.

The lead service line funding includes a $75 million grant using American Rescue Plan Act dollars and a $10 million grant through EGLE’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) to replace lead service lines throughout the city of Detroit. That is part of almost $1 billion invested in lead service line removals statewide during the same time period.

Since 2023, DWSD has completed over 5,300 excavations (to determine if households have lead lines) and over 4,000 lead service lines have been replaced. Currently, lead service lines are being replaced in 15 of Detroit’s neighborhoods, with two DWSD crews and five contractors replacing over 150 lines a week.

“Since Governor Whitmer took office, the state has invested more than $958 million in lead service line removals and has implemented the strongest lead and copper rule in the country,” said EGLE Director Phil Roos. “In February, the Governor proposed a budget with an additional $40 million for lead service line removals as well as new resources for water infrastructure projects and support for new staff to ensure our drinking water is protected. We’re committed to rebuilding our water infrastructure and ensuring that every family in Michigan has the confidence that their drinking water is healthy and that our world-class water natural resources are protected.”

These resources are an example of the State of Michigan’s efforts to reinvest in Michigan’s infrastructure. More than half of EGLE’s budget is returned to communities in the form of grants and loans.

Strategically investing state dollars to protect drinking water, natural resources

Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the Michigan Legislature, and the federal government have ramped up funding for aging water infrastructure—a critical move to protect public health and ensure access to safe drinking water. Since January 2019, the State of Michigan has invested more than $4 billion under the MI Clean Water Plan and other programs to upgrade drinking water, stormwater, and wastewater facilities across the state.

Last month, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and EGLE announced 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. This expansion will not only help communities across the state ensure safer, cleaner, and more affordable drinking water but also support over 4,300 local jobs.

In February, the Governor proposed an executive budget recommendation that included over $54 million for drinking water infrastructure, over $15 million for clean water projects focused on making communities resilient to the impacts of climate change, and support for new EGLE employees to ensure everyone’s drinking water is protected.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) has created a transformational opportunity for Michigan to improve its aging water infrastructure. To date, the state has invested more than $695 million of BIL federal funding for water infrastructure projects in cities, towns and villages across the state. Investments include a recent announcement of $61 million from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for lead water service line removal projects.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, for every $1 million invested in water infrastructure, 15 jobs are created, and studies have shown a $6 return for every dollar invested in water infrastructure.

Leading the nation in equitable water infrastructure projects 

A recent report recognized Michigan as the leading state with an “A” grade in ensuring equity in water infrastructure policies and deployment. 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.

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