Detroit-area floods mean sewage backups. Fed dollars won’t fix issue soon.

By Mike Wilkinson, Paula Gardner: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Despite the potential infusion of billions in federal infrastructure money, it could take years to see substantial improvements in southeast Michigan’s efforts to keep sewage back-ups out of basements after torrential rains. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Monday that any infrastructure bills passed in Washington this summer won’t be enough to meet the state’s long-term needs for water infrastructure investment, as demonstrated by widespread flooding in much of Ann Arbor, Detroit, Dearborn and across the region following storms Saturday. 

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments estimates it will take $1 billion a year until 2045 to address storm water drainage alone — and that’s just in seven of the state’s 83 counties.

That doesn’t account for the billions in other infrastructure needs, from drinking water and sewers to roads and bridges.

Federal estimates say fixes and updates to the nation’s water infrastructure system could cost $188 billion over the next 20 years, said Laura Rubin, director of the Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Consortium, which focuses on Great Lakes restoration issues. Michigan’s share of that is about $15 billion.

“That’s not even taking the disasters and increased precipitation into account,” Rubin said. “We know we’ve been under-investing in it.”

The infrastructure bill now under consideration in Congress would spend $1.2 trillion on a range of projects, including roads, bridges, broadband and public transportation. It would also include $55 billion toward water improvement.

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