State of Michigan Water Infrastructure Regional Planning

The State of Michigan, Michigan, USA

The Michigan Center for Freshwater Innovation (MCFI), a collaboration between the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University and a number of regional stakeholders, assisted the State of Michigan's office of the Environment Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) to develop an action plan to promote regional planning to ensure that the state's infrastructure investments are equitable and result in high-quality drinking water at the lowest cost.

Finance Theme Health Theme Infrastructure Theme Social Theme Water Theme

Executive Order 2021-9, Safe Drinking Water: EGLE must develop a proposal that promotes regional planning to ensure the state's infrastructure investments are equitable and result in high-quality drinking water at the lowest cost.

On November 4th, 2021, Michigan Governor Whitmer issued Executive Order 2021-9, Safe Drinking Water. In this order, the Governor directed the Michigan Department of the Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to undertake a comprehensive review of the state's role in its drinking water systems. This review focuses on prevention and response when water quality issues arise. Moreover, the review is to result in action by providing recommendations to “ensure every parent can hand their child a glass of water with confidence.” EGLE and MDHHS were tasked with completing this review no later than December 31, 2022, and were directed to jointly provide status updates at least once every three months until the review is complete. Within Executive Order 2021-9, the Governor outlined six specific Directives. Directive 6 states:

"Regional planning. EGLE must develop a proposal that promotes regional planning to ensure the state's infrastructure investments are equitable and result in high-quality drinking water at the lowest cost. This proposal should explore opportunities for shared services and identify incentives for action and roadblocks that deter the ability of public water supplies to provide water to residents outside a supply's current service area but whose current source of water is compromised, threatened, or unsustainable."

The Michigan Center for Freshwater Innovation (MCFI), a collaboration between the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University and a number of regional stakeholders, was contracted to assist the State of Michigan's office of the Environment Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) with Directive 6 under this order to develop an action plan to promote regional planning to ensure that the state's infrastructure investments are equitable and result in high-quality drinking water at the lowest cost.

Study Findings

Michigan community water systems face a number of challenges, and regional planning and collaboration can assist them to improve performance. Some of the principal challenges include affordability, aging infrastructure, increasing water shortages, environmental justice, workforce issues, emerging contaminants such as PFAS, and harmful algal blooms.

Systems using groundwater supplies may benefit the most from regional planning. Of the total of 1,400 community water supplies, 1,341 rely on groundwater which serve 45 percent of the population served by community systems. The other 55 percent of the Michigan public is served by 59 community surface water supplies (systems); 53 supply Great Lakes water, and only six use inland surface water. Analysis performed as part of this study indicates that systems using groundwater may be subject to the greatest threats to service provision. The state’s 9,500 noncommunity water systems serving schools, restaurants, motels, campgrounds, and churches also predominantly use groundwater and can benefit from regional planning.

The benefits of and barriers to regional planning and collaboration are well known. These are well-known from the literature and were well-reinforced through the interviews and roundtables conducted as part of this study. Benefits include improved service delivery, reduced cost through utilization of economies of scale, and greater anticipation and planning for evolving situations such as population growth and decline. Barriers can generally be categorized as feasibility, resource, willingness, and knowledge issues.

While barriers exist to regional planning and collaboration, approaches to encourage and accelerate such collaboration are available. These are well-known from the literature and are applicable to Michigan. In fact, several successful examples within the State of Michigan were identified through the course of the interviews and roundtables.

Successful collaborations require investments to seed and promote working relationships. Outcomes from the interviews and roundtables emphasized that partnerships are built over time, that multiple relationships between individuals within each collaborating organization are necessary, and that strong leadership can both accelerate and sustain partnerships. An “honest broker” may be needed in some instances to initiate and develop effective collaborations.

The existing regional planning councils provide a framework for regional water service delivery planning and implementation. Michigan is divided into fourteen planning and development regions, each having a regional council. These voluntary sub-state units have a potential role to play in water resource planning and management at the regional level. Their environment planning tasks already have some water components. For example, all regional councils in Michigan are designated as areawide water planning and management agencies by the state under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Many regional councils either lead or participate in watershed management planning groups. While watershed management is focused on the Clean Water Act, there may be potential to tie their activities to the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) also supports a task force on water infrastructure. These should include and develop relationships with the County Health units, particularly when dealing with the 2.5% of the CWS that have a health MCL or treatment technology violation or PFAS contamination.

A wide range of regional collaboration models are available. A summary of relevant options, along with implementation considerations, cost and efficiency considerations, and system outcomes were provided in  final report.

 

A series of recommendations included in this study will be released in early 2023 

Funding Source

State of Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy

Related Projects

Improving-Water-Quality-1
Water Theme

Improving Water Quality in Ox Creek

Benton Harbor, Michigan, USA

Using wireless sensors to monitor water quality and flow conditions and to control drains to Ox Creek in Benton Harbor.

Learn More
Real-Time-Watershed-Control-1
Water Theme

Real-Time Watershed Control

Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

Using autonomous sensors and valves to create “smart” stormwater systems to reduce flooding forecasting, and improve water quality.

Learn More
Removing-Phosphorus-Discharge-1
Water Theme

Optimizing Phosphorus Removal at Detroit’s Water Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF)

Detroit, Michigan, USA

Optimizing phosphorus removal at Detroit’s water treatment facility, to keep it out of lakes and rivers.

Learn More
Using-Technology-Keep-Seniors-Safe-1
Social Theme Health Theme Infrastructure Theme

Using Technology to Keep Seniors Safe

Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA

Using wearable-based technology to help seniors stay mobile and age in place, while avoiding exposure to falls and environmental risks or hazards.

Learn More
The-Power-Microorganisms-Treat-Water-1
Water Theme

The Power of Microorganisms to Treat Water

Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

Investigating the use of cutting-edge molecular tools that characterize and optimize water quality process performance.

Learn More
Improving-Public-Transportation-1
Social Theme Mobility Theme

Improving Public Transportation

Benton Harbor, Michigan, USA

Collecting travel data to help Benton Harbor improve travel options for residents, with the goal of increased employment participation and retention.

Learn More
Protecting-Public-Health-Improved-Water--Service-1
Water Theme Health Theme

Protecting Public Health with Improved Water Service

Benton Harbor, Michigan, USA

Improving Benton Harbor’s aging water system using risk assessment and risk analysis techniques, as well as mobile sensors.

Learn More
Transforming-Shipping-Containers-Chronic-Care-Clinics-1
Social Theme Health Theme

Transforming Shipping Containers into Chronic Care Clinics

Sandy Bay, Hanover Parish, Jamaica

The first in a series of health clinic prototypes that bring technology-enabled chronic health care monitoring to remote, underserved global populations.

Learn More
Liquid-Planning-Detroit-1
Water Theme

Liquid Planning Detroit

Detroit, Michigan, USA

Limiting the volume of stormwater in the Detroit system to prevent untreated sewage from being released into the Detroit and Rouge Rivers.

Learn More
Connecting-Mobility-Social-Access-1
Social Theme Mobility Theme

Connecting Mobility and Social Access

Chicago, Illinois, USA

Rethinking how transit infrastructure can expand access to food, health, learning, and mobility services by creating multimodal hubs.

Learn More
Artificial-Intelligence-and-Water-Resource-Recovery-Facilities-1
Water Theme

Use of Artificial Intelligence in Water Resource Recovery Facilities (WRRF)

Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

Using big data, data mining, and artificial intelligence to improve performance of the highly advanced Grand Rapids Water Resource Recovery Facilities.

Learn More
Enhancing-Decision-1
Infrastructure Theme Health Theme Social Theme

Enhancing Decision Making along the Detroit Riverfront using Remote Sensing and Computer Vision Tools

Detroit, Michigan, USA

Using remote sensing and security camera data to better understand how people are using the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy public spaces.

Learn More
Remote-Sensing-1
Infrastructure Theme

Remote Sensing Techniques for Highway Retaining Walls

Detroit, Michigan, USA

Structural monitoring of highway retaining walls using remote sensing techniques to assess performance and prioritize infrastructure investments.

Learn More
GLWA-Real-Time-1
Water Theme Infrastructure Theme

Demonstration Project for Real-Time Stormwater Control in Southeast Michigan

Detroit, Michigan, USA

Application of real-time sensing and dynamic control on existing wastewater infrastructure to reduce the frequency and volume of Combined Sewer Overflows.

Learn More
Point-Use-Water-Filters-1
Water Theme Social Theme

Point of Use Water Filters: A Grassroots Train-the-Trainer Program

Flint and Flint, Michigan, USA

A grassroots train-the-trainer program on how to install, operate and maintain faucet-mounted point-of-use filters to protect for lead in drinking water.

Learn More
Sensors-Shoebox-01
Health Theme Social Theme

Sensors in a Shoebox

Detroit, Michigan, USA

The Sensors in a Shoebox project focuses on empowering Detroit youth as agents of change for their city.

Learn More
Energy-Savings-01
Social Theme Energy Theme Mobility Theme

Energy Savings through Integrated Personalized, Real-time Traveler Information and Incentive Scheme

Washington DC-Baltimore, Metropolitan Downtown Area, USA

The project aims to reduce energy use of vehicular travels by incentivizing individual travelers to adjust travel choices and driving behaviors.

Learn More
Bendable-Concrete-Utilized-01
Infrastructure Theme Mobility Theme

Bendable Concrete Utilized on a Bridge Deck (Engineered Cementitious Composite or ECC)

Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA

A major source of bridge deterioration requiring constant maintenance is mechanical expansion joints installed between adjacent simple span bridge decks.

Learn More
Mapping Detroit’s Digital Divide
Infrastructure Theme Mobility Theme Social Theme

Mapping Detroit’s Digital Divide

Detroit, Michigan, USA

Mapping detailed geographies of digital access and exclusion across Detroit’s neighborhoods.

Learn More
Infrastructure Theme Water Theme Health Theme

In-Place Structural Monitoring of Cast Iron Water Main Renewal

Detroit, Michigan, USA

The Great Lakes Water Authority is looking for ways to rehabilitate large diameter water mains without actually having to dig up city streets.

Learn More
Health Theme Water Theme

Treating PFAS Impacted Groundwater using Plasma

Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA

A PFAS treatment approach for groundwater using low-temperature plasma with a concentration phase

Learn More
Health Theme Infrastructure Theme Water Theme

Assessment of Risk for Southeast Michigan’s Drinking Water Transmission System

Detroit, Michigan, USA

The University of Michigan is developing a structural reliability framework to quantify the probability of failure of pipe segments throughout the GLWA system.

Learn More
Infrastructure Theme Finance Theme Water Theme

Data-Driven Decision-Making Framework for Risk Management of the GLWA Water Transmission System

Detroit, Michigan, USA

The goal of this project is to develop a data-driven asset management framework that quantifies risk in the water distribution network for southeast Michigan.

Learn More
Mobility Theme Health Theme Social Theme Infrastructure Theme Water Theme

Ox Creek Corridor Visioning Project

Benton Harbor, Michigan, USA

The city of Benton Harbor wishes to transform Ox Creek into a residential, recreational and commercial centerpiece linking important segments of the community.

Learn More
Health Theme Social Theme Infrastructure Theme

Campus Martius & Cadillac Square – Enhancing the Benefits Of Community Parks

Detroit, Michigan, USA

While parks are designed and managed to generate community benefits, there remains a need for tools that can more rigorously measure how communities use parks.

Learn More
Social Theme Infrastructure Theme

Partnering Workers with Interactive Robot Assistants to Usher Transformation in Future Construction Work

Ann Arbor and Detroit, Michigan, USA

Robots are anticipated to make the global construction industry safer and more attractive to workers, easing a worker shortage in the United States.

Learn More
Water Theme

Michigan Center for Freshwater Innovation (MCFI)

The State of Michigan, Michigan, USA

The MCFI will leverage research in water technology and work with stakeholders to translate research into practice, stimulate business growth and job creation.

Learn More
Water Theme Health Theme Social Theme

Great Lakes Legacy Act (GLLA) Restoration of the Rouge River

Detroit, Michigan, USA

The Urban Collaboratory is working with the USEPA and the Great Lakes Water Authority to remediate and restore the Rouge River.

Learn More
Mobility Theme Health Theme

Enabling Independent Mobility in People with Physical Disabilities by Advancing Human-Centered Social and Technological Research

Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA

The goal of this project is to explore seamless and independent mobility for people with physical disabilities.

Learn More