Water for All of Michigan (WFAM) partners—Clean Water Action, FLOW, People’s Water Board Coalition, and the Sierra Club—have united to identify, analyze, and advance financing and funding options and policies for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure that prioritize equity, end shutoffs of residential drinking water in metropolitan Detroit, Flint, Benton Harbor, and beyond, and protect Michigan’s groundwater from privatization to meet our goal of securing safe, affordable water for all of Michigan.
Since 2018, WFAM partners have conducted policy research, legal, and sociopolitical landscape analyses of the problems and potential solutions to Michigan’s water infrastructure crisis.
Sept. 2020 Report: WFAM—WATER FOR ALL OF MICHIGAN: Financing and Securing Access to Safe, Clean, and Affordable Water for All
WFAM—WATER FOR ALL OF MICHIGAN: Financing and Securing Access to Safe, Clean, and Affordable Water for All—with innovative recommendations for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure.
Findings, interpretations, and conclusions included in this WFAM report are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of WFAM funders, or those who provided review. The WFAM project was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.
Situated at the center of the Great Lakes Basin, Michigan benefits from one of the largest freshwater endowments in the world. And yet, many families and communities in Michigan lack reliable access to safe, clean, affordable water to meet their needs. While the most egregious examples are the Flint water crisis and widespread water shutoffs in Detroit, water insecurity is experienced in rural communities, too, such as contamination of drinking water wells by bacteria and PFAS and other toxic contaminants.
We rely on human-built water systems—community drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater management systems and, in rural areas, residential drinking water wells and septic systems—to provide water that is safe for drinking and bathing, and to prevent flooding and contamination of natural water bodies that support ecosystems and supply drinking water. Michigan, however, is accumulating a water infrastructure funding shortfall in the range of $1 billion annually.
These two problems—water insecurity and the failure to adequately fund water infrastructure—are intrinsically connected. So, too, are their solutions.
The Water For All of Michigan (WFAM) project convened five organizations with rich and diverse experiences involving water and equity issues in Michigan—Clean Water Fund, FLOW (For Love of Water), Michigan Environmental Council (MEC), People’s Water Board Coalition (PWBC), and the Sierra Club—to assess options for funding and financing water infrastructure and services through an equity and justice lens. This project report summarizes key findings, insights, and recommendations from the first phase of this work, conducted from June 2019 through September 2020.
WFAM extends special thanks to Janet Meissner Pritchard, the lead researcher and author of the report, and to Jim Olson, FLOW’s Founder and Senior Legal Advisor, for his guidance on the report and its research from beginning to end. WFAM also wants to recognize Cyndi Roper at the Natural Resources Defense Council for her generous support, ideas, and involvement through the entire process, and Sierra Club Michigan’s Sarah Tresedder, who designed the report.
WFAM partners would like to thank the following water activists and thinkers who served as advisors in developing this report:
- Elin Betanzo, Safe Water Engineering, LLC; Royal Oak.
- Brandon Betz, Michigan League for Public Policy, Lansing City Council; Lansing.
- Rianna Eckel, Food & Water Watch; Washington, D.C.
- Nicole Hill, Poor People’s Campaign, Michigan Chapter, Detroit Charter Commission Working Group, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization; Detroit.
- Frank Houston, Blue Green Alliance; Royal Oak.
- Monica Lewis-Patrick, We The People of Detroit; Detroit.
- Nicholas Leonard, Great Lakes Environmental Law Center; Detroit.
- Jamila Martin, 482Forward, Movement Voter Project, Progressive Revenue Table; Detroit.
- Andrea Pierce, Michigan Anishinaabek Caucus; Ann Arbor.
- Rev. Edward Pinkney, Benton Harbor Community Water Council; Benton Harbor.
- Ryan Sebolt, MI AFL-CIO, Ingham County Commission; Lansing.
- Nayyirah Shariff, Flint Rising; Flint.
- Branden Snyder, Detroit Action; Detroit.
- Anthony Spaniola, Need Our Water; Troy, Oscoda.
- Dwight Washington, Michigan Association of Counties Environmental Committee; Bath Twp.
- Cathy Wusterbarth, Need Our Water; Oscoda.
- Dave Woodward, Oakland County Commission; Royal Oak.