MITA in the News – Jim Nash and Rob Coppersmith: Investment into infrastructure needed now

The Oakland Press, December 11, 2021

Michigan has been presented with an opportunity to address water infrastructure needs that have been unaffordable and thus unaccomplished for far too long. The Coalition for a Strong and Prosperous Michigan has convened with communities, business leaders, nonprofits, and stakeholder groups, to develop the MI Prosperity Roadmap to invest nearly $6 billion in federal American Recovery Act funding in the state’s hands.

Quality infrastructure is the lifeblood of our economic and personal well-being. Strong, resilient infrastructure sustains local economies, improves the quality of life, provides equitable access to jobs, and protects the environment.

Michigan prides itself as the “Great Lakes State” with an abiding commitment to clean water. Yet, the impacts of water pollution and flooding continue to threaten our property, environment, and health. Portions of our largest and oldest cities—icons of 20th-century prowess—now routinely face challenges due to infrastructure designed and built decades and up to a century ago. It is not up to the task of meeting the challenges of intense storms today. Devastating flooding of homes, businesses, and even interstate highways is becoming more commonplace. The need for infrastructure investment is not limited to our cities. Last year another bout of heavy rain prompted the failure of two dams in Midland County. Communities there are still struggling to recover from the damage.

Michigan’s collective focus should be on making long-term investments in our water infrastructure with this once-in-a-generation opportunity to do that. Facilitating swift action is made possible by the MI Prosperity Roadmap. By leveraging the federal funds sent to Michigan, the Roadmap represents the most significant single investment in Michigan’s water infrastructure, housing, economic development, and public health in decades.

As for water, the prevalence of lead service lines throughout the state, aging infrastructure, failing septic systems, and PFAS contamination all represent immediate needs we must address. The time to act is now. Leaders in Lansing can, and should, move immediately to help begin addressing these issues.

The Prosperity Roadmap proposes strategically investing $2.5 billion in Michigan’s ARP funds into water infrastructure, leveraged in partnership with local resources, to make capital improvements, replace lead service lines, improve planning at the local level, and address issues of sustainability and resiliency related to water.

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