Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday released a proposed state budget for the fiscal year starting October 1 that includes $385 million in new funding for clean water priorities, as well as funding for emergency contaminated site cleanup and energy projects.
“The Governor’s budget would make some significant investments in Michigan’s vital water resources,” said Liz Kirkwood, executive director of FLOW. “We’re especially pleased with her efforts to begin addressing the huge deficit of state funding for clean water infrastructure. But much more needs to be done.”
Whitmer’s budget proposal, summarized here, includes:
- $55 million for the Filters First program to begin statewide implementation of drinking water fixture replacements in schools to ensure that children have access to clean, safe drinking water. Lead has been found in some Michigan school drinking water supplies at levels which could cause health impacts in children.
- $290 million in infrastructure grants for the Michigan Clean Water Plan to address sewer overflows and mitigate public health risks by removing sewage discharge to surface water and groundwater. A portion of this funding would help homeowners to replace failing septic systems, a significant threat to water and public health.
- $40 million to fund grants to local governments to promote resilient infrastructure through planning and action projects that address issues like coastal erosion, flooding, transportation networks, urban heat, and stormwater management.
The budget recommendations for clean energy and the environment include:
- $20 million for contaminated site cleanup to support rapid response to contaminated sites that pose an immediate threat.
- $5 million for the State Facility Green Revolving Fund, a catalyst for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects at state facilities, helping reduce the state’s carbon footprint.
- $5 million to support the purchase of propane tanks with funds provided as grants with a 50 percent match to help meet our energy needs.
- $5 million for the Michigan Saves Green Bank, leveraging private investment in clean energy improvements by incentivizing lenders to provide more favorable rates and terms for renewable energy improvements. This promotes $150 million in private capital for clean energy improvements across the state.
“As business leaders focused on protecting the Great Lakes, we appreciate seeing in this budget a continued commitment to advancing solutions to transition to a clean energy economy and ensuring the Great Lakes are protected by investing in critical water infrastructure needs across the state,” said Bob Sutherland, president and CEO of Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor, and chairman of the Great Lakes Business Network Clean Energy Working Group.
The budget also contains $15 million for the Dam Safety Emergency Fund for emergency response when dam owners are unwilling or unable to mitigate hazards caused by dam malfunction. This follows catastrophic dam failures near Midland last summer.