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.
Water’s True Cost
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
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
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
More communities gain access to the largest federal infusion in a half century.
Some Michigan water systems are overbuilt, underfunded. Are mergers the answer?
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
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.
Michigan’s 20th Century water systems too big for its shrinking city populations
Cities around the Great Lakes region struggle with the cost of water maintenance and operation as their populations decline.
Water woes loom for Michigan suburbs, towns after decades of disinvestment
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.
Many Rural Towns Have Neglected Drinking Water Systems for Decades
Rural Michigan’s shrinking populations, growing poverty, and diminished state and federal assistance have fueled a crisis of underfunded drinking water infrastructure.
After Decades of Neglect, Bill Coming Due for Michigan’s Water Infrastructure
Federal and state governments begin to reverse course on underinvestment to address water’s true cost.
Great Lakes News Collaborative examines 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.
Water’s True Cost: Episode Sneak Peek Watch Party
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:
Few good options for shrinking Michigan’s problem deer herds
Deer are invading Michigan’s suburbs, resulting in car crashes, habitat destruction and disease concerns. But affected Michigan communities probably can’t sterilize or kill enough deer to reverse the trend.
Michigan mallards are in decline. Are domestic ducks weakening their genes?
Commercial game farms have long raised and released domestic ducks for hunters to target. Research shows those ducks are breeding with wild mallards, weakening their genes and possibly threatening their survival.
U.S. Judge: Flint has 5 months to finish long-overdue lead pipe replacement
The $97 million project was supposed to be done by 2020. Officials blame the pandemic, supply shortages and unreliable contractors for the delay.
Court: Nessel can try again to return Line 5 lawsuit to state court
Legal experts say Michigan has a better chance of persuading a state court to shut down the pipeline, while Enbridge is more likely to prevail in federal court.
Ongoing battle to keep toxic chemicals at bay
Outdated laws and chemicals that were approved without assessing for risk leave communities struggling to ward off contaminants before they foul drinking supplies.
Report: MI and OH must spend hundreds of millions more annually to curb toxic blooms in Lake Erie
A new report suggests Michigan and Ohio will fail to reduce nutrient runoff by 40% as agreed upon.
New U.S. Climate Law Could Make Midwest Water Contamination Worse
Billions in clean energy incentives rely on raw materials from polluting corn and livestock.
Right to water: Could 2023 be the year Michigan ends shutoffs?
Some lawmakers see a bill to declare a human right to water as a first step toward ending the shutoffs that plague low-income Michiganders.