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.
The quality of Michigan’s water infrastructure and the consequences of failure, while still real and apparent, are no longer being ignored.
While much-needed money is being directed to aging drinking water infrastructure, stormwater and sewer systems have been neglected.
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.
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.
More communities gain access to the largest federal infusion in a half century.
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.
Rising rates hurt Michigan’s poorest residents.
Short-changing Michigan local governments has resulted in deteriorating water systems and other services
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.
Michigan’s lack of septic system regulations is causing problems for some of its most pristine lakes
The cost of updating sewer systems in growing communities is either a hefty price tag or polluted waters.
Cities around the Great Lakes region struggle with the cost of water maintenance and operation as their populations decline.
Michigan cities rich and poor, big and small have been delaying maintenance on their water systems for decades. Now, even wealthy towns are suffering the consequences of past reluctance to pay for water system upkeep.
Rural Michigan’s shrinking populations, growing poverty, and diminished state and federal assistance have fueled a crisis of underfunded drinking water infrastructure.
Federal and state governments begin to reverse course on underinvestment to address water’s true cost.
For the whole month of May, Great Lakes Now will be looking at aging water infrastructure and the rising literal cost of water as part of a series from the Great Lakes News Collaborative.
Join the Conversations: Events on “Water’s True Cost” will answer your questions about water infrastructure
As the Great Lakes News Collaborative prepares to publish and air stories about water’s true cost, get these free, virtual events on your calendar to learn more about your drinking water.
Join GLN Producer Anna Sysling for a conversation with several guests who all played a part in this episode’s story about the complicated financial, public health and infrastructural implications of our drinking water.
More from the Great Lakes News Collaborative:
Rivers and lakes are becoming saltier while law and practice limit effective responses.
The Great Lakes Commission has a plan to guide the states and provinces surrounding the Great Lakes toward protecting their communities from the climate-change damage.
Blame the Great Lakes and climate change for Michigan’s dreary winters.
On Jan. 25, Bridge Michigan environment reporter Kelly House will moderate a Zoom discussion about the priorities for water in the 2023 Michigan Legislature.
From polluter pay laws to plastic bag bans, Democrats and environmental advocates hope to reverse Republican-passed laws.
Under the deal, tribal fishers could use gillnets in more places to cope with declining whitefish populations.
Toxic manure discharges from large livestock operations is a major source of water pollution.
This year, hunters were required to report their deer kills, a move wildlife managers say will help the state better manage Michigan’s growing herds.