LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Curt VanderWall on Thursday joined Senate Republicans in announcing major investments in public water systems across the state, and measures to aid with dam repairs and protect Michigan’s natural resources.
“This one-time federal funding will help improve public safety by repairing critical dams across the state to help prevent a disaster like we saw last year in Midland,” said VanderWall, R-Ludington. “It will also allow us to make substantial upgrades and improvements to the state’s water infrastructure and help clean up and protect Michigan’s natural resources — all using existing funds instead of raising taxes on hardworking Michiganders.
Senate Bill 565 would provide $680 million for the creation of grant and loan programs to repair the most critical of Michigan’s dams.
“It’s always easier to make repairs early rather than wait for the larger, more expensive ones to come along,” VanderWall said. “After what happened in Midland, we have a better idea of what needs to be done, and where we need to focus our money and repair efforts.”
The Senate legislation also makes major investments in the state’s public water systems and efforts to clean up and protect the environment.
Included in the funding is a $600 million matching grant program for the replacement of lead pipes across the state and $700 million to upgrade local drinking water and wastewater facilities. The plan would also repurpose $290 million in bonds to assist communities with upgrading and replacing water treatment infrastructure, along with establishing a loan program for homeowners to replace failing septic systems.
Additionally, the Senate supplemental includes an effort originally introduced by VanderWall earlier this year that would ensure students have access to clean, safe drinking water while at school. The bill dedicates $85 million to install filtered water stations inside schools.
“Getting filtered water stations into schools was something several colleagues and I looked at earlier this year,” VanderWall said. “As we moved forward, the more information we obtained gave us a better idea of where our finances would be, we opted to include this money in the proposal. I think it is a responsible, agreeable idea that has a host of bipartisan supporters.”
The plan also addresses the harmful impacts of PFAS chemicals and would dedicate $100 million in grants to remove the chemicals from “orphaned” sites. It also includes an additional $15 million to conduct surface water monitoring, $10 million for wetland mitigation, and $20 million to implement recommendations included in the Groundwater Use Advisory Council Report.
“I think this plan is a great way to build on previous efforts to study, address and improve public water systems, groundwater quality and the environment,” VanderWall said. “None of these things are partisan issues, and I hope to see this get to the governor’s desk and signed into law so we can start putting the money on the table and get these things done.”