Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announces $200 million proposal to replace lead pipes across Michigan

Michigan Water Improvements
Posted at 6:15 AM, Sep 09, 2021

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a proposal for a $200 million expansion of the MI Clean Water Plan on Wednesday which will remove lead service lines across the state.

Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy are calling on the state legislature to also use money from the American Rescue Plan to improve access to clean drinking water in Michigan.

"Every Michigander deserves access to safe drinking water and every community deserves lead-free pipes,” Whitmer said. "We must make long-overdue upgrades to our water infrastructure and build on the progress we have made under the MI Clean Water Plan to replace lead pipes, fix sewer systems, and tackle PFAS in our water supply.”

Whitmer also proposed removing and replacing the lead service lines in Benton Harbor in southwest Michigan in the next five years. Benton Harbor recently reported lead levels that exceed acceptable benchmarks set by the state’s Lead and Copper Rule.

“The health of every Michigander is intimately tied to the quality of their drinking water,” said Liesl Clark, director of the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. ”This $200 million proposal to modernize our aging, inadequate water infrastructure in communities across Michigan and expedite relief efforts to Benton Harbor is an important step towards protecting public health. Water infrastructure is a priority, and we will continue working together to ensure every Michiganders has access to safe drinking water.”

In total, Michigan will put $302 million towards replacing lead service lines across the state with funding from the American Rescue Plan and the existing MI Clean Water Plan.

“Toxic contamination in Michigan’s drinking water is an issue that affects us all—whether it’s lead in our pipes, toxic PFAS chemicals in our groundwater, or millions of gallons of raw sewage that continually overflows into our rivers and lakes,” said Lisa Wozniak who serves as the executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “Both sides in the Legislature have proposed ambitious plans when it comes to investment in our water infrastructure and we anticipate much-needed and unprecedented unification at this critical moment to protect our health and our economy.”

Michigan already has some additional programs so that individuals and communities can get help with their drinking water and provide information. In 2019 the MI Lead Safe website launched which provides information on lead exposure. That same year Whitmer also created the Office of the Clean Water Public advocate to investigate drinking water concerns and make recommendations to the governor and EGLE.

“I will work to get people the help they need right now and make lasting, structural investments in infrastructure to protect public health,” Whitmer said.

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