Gongwer News Service: Michigan Needs to Invest $7 Billion in Water Treatment, Stormwater Management
Friday, July 2, 2010
Michigan needs to invest $7.04 billion in water treatment and stormwater management systems to bring those systems up to standards, according to a report released this week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
But the report, based on 2008 figures, showed the state has also made substantial gains on wastewater treatment, particularly in addressing combined sewer overflows. The Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association said the report shows the need for substantial investment.
"This is a massive problem and the billions of dollars in unmet needs literally span the state from Marquette to Monroe," said Mike Nystrom, executive vice president of MITA. "Summer always seems to remind us of the human impact of the problem as 'No Swimming' signs are posted at beaches because of the untreated sewage that flows into our rivers and lakes each year."
Robert McCann, spokesperson for the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, agreed there was need.
"We've come a long way but there's still a lot of work that needs to be done," he said. And he said the key problem has been funding, particularly at the local level. The state offers low-interest loans to conduct sewer separation projects. "In hard economic times, you can make the loan interest rate as low as you want but it's still a loan," he said.
Many communities are hesitant to borrow not knowing if they will have the resources to repay the funds. The combined sewers is a key focus for MITA, with Mr. Nystrom noting the state released 19.2 billion gallons of raw sewage through those systems that carry both wastewater and stormwater in 2008.