Senate legislation would fund major dam improvements, investments in water infrastructure

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Rick Outman 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.

“We’ve made a lot of investments in recent budget cycles toward ensuring residents have safe, clean drinking water in their homes,” said Outman, R-Six Lakes, who chairs the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality. “This federal funding will help us take another major step toward our goal of getting clean water to all Michigan residents — and it will do so using existing money instead of raising taxes.”

Senate Bill 565 would provide $680 million for the creation of grant and loan programs to repair the most critical of Michigan’s dams, which would help mitigate or avoid costly catastrophes like what Midland experienced in 2020.

“These funds serve as a major investment in public safety as well as the reliability of the state’s dams and water infrastructure,” Outman said. “It’s important we take a hard look at where repairs need to be made to prevent another situation like we saw in Midland. Repairs now could save us much larger and costlier repairs down the road.”

In addition to dam repair, the supplemental funding also focused on water systems throughout the state and efforts to clean up and protect the environment.

Included in the funding measure is a $600 million matching grant program for the replacement of lead pipes across the state, $700 million to upgrade local drinking water and wastewater facilities and $85 million to ensure students have access to safe water by installing filtered water stations inside schools. The plan would 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.

Also included is an additional $25 million to conduct surface water monitoring, including $10 million for wetland mitigation, and $20 million to implement recommendations included in the Groundwater Use Advisory Council Report. The plan also addresses the harmful impacts of PFAS chemicals and would dedicate $100 million in grants to remove the chemicals from “orphaned” sites.

“While this is another big step forward, I’ll continue working with my colleagues and the department on efforts to reach more homes with clean drinking water and protecting Michigan’s unique and abundant natural resources,” Outman said. “This one-time federal funding will be a great asset as we work toward a cleaner, safer Michigan but there is more work to be done.”

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