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Water's True Cost

As the nation prepares to pour hundreds of billions of federal dollars into rescuing water systems, the Great Lakes News Collaborative investigates the true cost of water in the Great Lakes region and beyond

Throughout the Great Lakes region and across the U.S., water systems are aging.

In some communities, this means water bills that residents can’t afford or water that’s unsafe to drink. It means that vulnerable systems are even more at risk in a changing climate. From shrinking cities and small towns to the comparatively thriving suburbs, the true cost of water has been deferred for decades. As the nation prepares to pour hundreds of billions of federal dollars into rescuing water systems, the Great Lakes News Collaborative investigates the true cost of water in the Great Lakes region and beyond.

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Water’s True Cost
- by Circle of Blue

The quality of Michigan’s water infrastructure and the consequences of failure, while still real and apparent, are no longer being ignored.

Ontario faces uneven investment in water infrastructure
- by Andrew Reeves

While much-needed money is being directed to aging drinking water infrastructure, stormwater and sewer systems have been neglected.

Even in Canada, where water prices are low, aging infrastructure and rising costs are a problem
- by Andrew Reeves

Water, while still overall affordable in Canada compared to other countries, is growing more expensive as the cost of neglecting infrastructure for decades comes due.

Five fixes for Michigan’s drinking water woes

The Great Lakes News Collaborative asked state and national experts how Michigan could break the cycle of underfunding and poor decision-making that has left water systems across Michigan in sorry shape.

Michigan’s ‘Very Big Opportunity’ in Infrastructure Windfall
- by Circle of Blue

More communities gain access to the largest federal infusion in a half century.

Some Michigan water systems are overbuilt, underfunded. Are mergers the answer?
- by Bridge Michigan

Customers get cheaper, cleaner water when communities share the cost of infrastructure. But Michigan’s experience shows how political conflicts and logistical challenges can complicate the math.

High Cost of Water Hits Home
- by Circle of Blue

Rising rates hurt Michigan’s poorest residents.

Short-changing Michigan local governments has resulted in deteriorating water systems and other services
- by Michigan Radio

Many of Michigan’s cities are reaching a crisis point because of a decline in federal dollars for water and sewer infrastructure made worse by the state’s centralized taxing system.

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