Protecting Michigan’s Waters: Infrastructure for the Future
Michigan is the Great Lakes state. As such, Michigan residents are acutely aware of our duty to protect the Great Lakes and our water resources for future generations. There are currently many threats to our water here in Michigan. Most of these threats have been looming for years, but action on them has been pushed off, as our legislature procrastinates and ignores the problems instead of taking the hard steps that action requires.
The Flint water crisis brought the dangers of lead infrastructure and poor oversight from the state to the surface and a city was poisoned as a result. Every year, combined sewer overflows dump 5.7 billion gallons of raw, untreated sewage directly into our lakes, rivers, and streams. As climate change causes more frequent and severe storms across Michigan, stormwater runoff becomes a bigger problem, and our municipalities don’t have the ability to create stormwater utilities, or the resources to implement proper stormwater management. Michigan remains the only state in the United States that lacks a statewide septic code, and as a consequence, 25 to 30 percent of our 1.4 million septic systems statewide are failing and leaking more raw and untreated sewage into our groundwater.
Further, the privatization of our water resources continues to erode the basic understanding that here in Michigan, our water is a public resource that is legally required under public trust doctrine to be protected and preserved by the state for the use and enjoyment of Michigan residents, rather than private corporations like Nestle. Water affordability issues grow every year as water rates, especially in our larger cities, continue to skyrocket.
Water is a public resource, and access to clean, safe drinking water is a human right. But what does that really mean if we are not taking the necessary steps to protect and preserve our water for all Michigan residents? All of these issues need to be dealt with, and need to be dealt with soon, if we hope to preserve the Great Lakes and our water in Michigan for future generations.
That’s why we’re campaigning to improve our infrastructure to protect our water and health. Policy changes such as these do not happen quickly, and won’t happen without the voices and efforts of millions of people from across our state standing together and calling for change. You can donate here and sign up to volunteer here.
Early in 2019, Governor Gretchen Whitmer released her budget proposal, which included the largest proposed investment in water and water infrastructure that we’ve seen in Michigan in many years. With $120 million proposed to improve our drinking water infrastructure and another $60 million to install lead-free hydration stations in schools, passing this budget is an important first step towards making the improvements we need.