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Opinion: It's time to invest to keep Michigan water clean

Michigan is situated at the center of the largest collection of surface fresh water in the world – an enviable position for most countries, let alone states. Our lakes and rivers provide unmatched beauty and recreation opportunities that make “Pure Michigan” the envy of the Midwest. People from across the country come to experience our freshwater paradise, and countless businesses rely on our water infrastructure for everything from tourism and craft beer to advanced manufacturing. All of that – our very way of life – is in danger if we do not take steps to maintain and invest in our water infrastructure to ensure it remains a functioning asset for generations to come.

We have failing septic systems that leach contaminants into our groundwater and sewer treatment systems that are unable to meet demand and overflow during periods of heavy rain. We also have toxic contamination like Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) and lead pipes that pose a serious risk to public health. Unless we act soon, the quality of life that residents, businesses and visitors have come to expect and enjoy will become a thing of the past.

The MI Clean Water Plan being discussed right now in the state Legislature offers a step forward through thoughtful investment that will begin to repair critical water infrastructure in communities across Michigan. This $500 million plan combines federal dollars, state bonding authority and existing state revenues into a comprehensive water infrastructure package.

This plan includes funding for communities to replace lead service lines as well as risk reduction and asset management grants. It also includes funding to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows, plus funding to remove failing septic systems and other raw sewage discharges that pollute our lakes and streams. Planning grants will also be made available under this proposal to help communities ensure their residents have access to clean and affordable drinking water.

Our communities work hard every day to protect the health of their residents, but every single community in Michigan is at risk if we fail to adequately invest in and maintain our water infrastructure. From the job provider to the individual, the MI Clean Water Plan offers the opportunity to enhance the human experience and set our communities and local businesses up for long-term success. We urge our lawmakers in Lansing to work together to protect our state and its people by passing the MI Clean Water Plan.

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