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MI Short $7 Billon for Sewer Infrastructure

Thursday, June 24, 2010   (0 Comments)
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LANSING, Mich. - Michigan released 19.2 billion gallons of raw sewage into waterways in 2008 and now a new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) national survey on clean water needs indicates that Michigan must invest $7 billion in wastewater and stormwater treatment and collection systems to meet the goals of the federal government's Clean Water Act.


Michigan's underfunding is outlined in the Clean Watersheds Needs Survey 2008 Report to the Congress, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency national survey on water pollution control investments that states must make to comply with the environmental and health objectives spelled out by the 1972 federal law designed to keep our waterways clean.  The report, which examined Michigan's situation as of Jan. 1, 2008, was released earlier this month and once again underscores the enormous challenge Michigan faces in rebuilding its aging infrastructure.  Federal and state policymakers have historically used this needs survey as a baseline for quantifying water infrastructure needs.

"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 the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association (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."


The most recent statistics available show that there were 19.2 billion gallons of raw sewage released into Michigan lakes, rivers and streams in 2008, according to the Combined Sewer Overflow, Sanitary Overflow and Retention Treatment Basis Discharge 2008 Annual Report.  That's enough raw sewage to fill about 1.4 million average-size Michigan living rooms.


In 2002, Michigan voters approved a statewide $1 billion clean water bond proposal to invest in sewer upgrades, but policymakers have chosen to utilize virtually none of the money.

Highlights of the EPA's Michigan findings:

  • The state needs $3.4 billion to deal with its wastewater treatment needs. The biggest chunk of that - $1.55 billion - is needed to pay for Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) correction to prevent or control the periodic discharges into waterways of mixed storm water and untreated wastewater that occur when heavy rains or melting snow overload sewer capacity.
  • Another $959 million is needed to repair old pipes and install new ones. It will take $3.31 billion to deal with the state's nonpoint source pollution control needs. This is pollution that doesn't have a single point of origin and can be the result of runoff, precipitation, atmospheric deposition, drainage, seepage and other sources. The lion's share of that - $2.97 billion - is needed to remediate 9,252 storage tanks across the state that are leaking petroleum and hazardous materials.


"The biggest question is - where do we find the funds to address these critical, serious needs?" said Dan Gilmartin, CEO of the Michigan Municipal League.  "With the stakes this high, our state and federal lawmakers have no option but to make the preservation of our water and sewer systems a top priority.  Inaction only makes the problem bigger and the price tag larger down the road."






Clean Watersheds Needs Survey (CWNS) 2008 Report to Congress


Clean Watersheds Needs Survey - MI Specific Fact Sheet


Combined Sewer Overflow, Sanitary Sewer Overflow and Retention Treatment Basin Discharge 2008 Annual Report, page 13.,1607,7-135-3313_3682_3715---,00.html



Mike Nystrom, Executive Vice President, MITA
Office: (517) 347-8336
Cell: (517) 896-1493

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