Michigan Senate approves $3.3B water infrastructure bill

Michigan

Katia Kenney, 18 of Flint, Mich., volunteers as she loads cases of water into vehicles as non-profit Pack Your Back distributes more than 37,000 bottles of water on Monday, April 22, 2019, at Dort Federal Event Center in Flint, Mich. A judge on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, approved a $626 million settlement for Flint residents and others who were exposed to lead-contaminated water. (Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP, File)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Senate on Thursday unanimously approved $3.3 billion in water infrastructure spending to replace lead pipes and repair aging dams around the state while also sending money to a Detroit-area system that has struggled with flooding blamed on climate change.

The House will next consider the massive influx of aid, likely in the new year. It includes about $2.4 billion in federal funding — $1.4 billion from the infrastructure law enacted last month and nearly $1 billion from the pandemic rescue law passed in March.

Sen. Jon Bumstead, a Newaygo Republican and sponsor of the spending bill, called it “a step towards ensuring that our state water infrastructure undergoes transformational improvements that will benefit every Michigander for generations to come.”

Senators initially proposed $600 million to replace service lines that can leach lead into drinking water if the supply isn’t properly treated. They upped it to $1 billion following the passage of the federal infrastructure bill.

The Natural Resources Defense Council has estimated that Michigan has 460,000 lead pipes in the ground, which would be the third-most in the country. State regulations, made tougher following Flint’s water crisis, generally require that every line be replaced by around 2040.

The legislation includes $650 million in state money for a new loan fund for dam owners and $400 million for the Great Lakes Water Authority, which provides water to nearly 40% of Michigan’s population and wastewater services to nearly 30%.

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