Posted at 4 p.m. on March 30, 2021
By Scott McLallen
Center Square News Service
Four Great Lakes governors on Tuesday, March 30, urged President Joe Biden to prioritize federal investments in water infrastructure.
In a letter sent to Biden, the governors lauded the American Rescue Plan Act’s $360 billion in direct aid to state and local governments that can be spent on water and sewer infrastructure.
“As your administration continues to develop and pursue its policy agenda, we respectfully encourage you to continue your emphasis on modernizing America’s water infrastructure,” reads the letter.
The letter was signed by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, and Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, all Democrats.
Whitmer said in a statement: “The health of our families, 21 percent of the world’s fresh drinking water, and 51 million jobs depend on our immediate, collective action."
The letter outlines challenges of maintaining old water treatment and management systems across the Great Lakes states including dam failures, the Flint Water Crisis, and more.
The governors claimed more than $2 trillion in national water infrastructure work will be needed in the next 20 years.
The letter cites specific concerns:
The affordability of potable water
Aging and inadequate waste water and storm water management infrastructure, including the release of untreated or partially treated sewage into river and lakes.
Dams that are failing or approaching failure.
Water mains that are aging and failing,
Private septic systems that are failing and contaminating water supplies.
Increasing problems with nitrate contamination of wells, in Wisconsin in particular, from agricultural practices.
Lead water pipes in Wisconsin will cost about $2 million to replace, the letter said.
“It is time to think big” to meet the Biden’s challenge to “build back better”, the letter concludes. “We would appreciate the opportunity to discuss with you and your team the scale, scope, and contours of a major water infrastructure initiative that would exemplify your commitment.”
~ Ed Byrne/BN added substantial content to this report.