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Michigan’s Governor calls for help to get water turned back on during pandemic

LANSING, Mich. – Governor Gretchen Whitmer took steps on March 28 to make sure at-risk households have access to clean water for sanitation. She issued an executive order requiring the reconnection of service to residences that have had water service shut off.

“This is a critical step both for the health of families living without a reliable water source, and for slowing the spread of the Coronavirus,” said Whitmer. “We continue to work to provide all Michiganders – regardless of their geography or income level – the tools they need to keep themselves and their communities protected.”

The order requires public water suppliers to immediately identify which residences have no water service and make their best efforts reconnecting them.

This executive order is effective for the entire duration of the COVID-19 emergency and does not absolve anyone of their responsibility to pay past-due bills.

A $2 million Water Restart Grant Program has been established through Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) in order to provide funding to local communities.

EGLE will give out limited grants to communities based on available funding will be given to high-risk areas.

Requirements for these grants include the following:

  • Communities must provide a spending plan outlining the estimated number of homes to be reconnected and the average cost per home to do so.
  • If lead lines are being replaced as part of the reconnect, the entire line must be replaced.
  • EGLE will reimburse up to $5,000 for reconnection, line replacement, and restoration per home. Exceptions for work that goes above this amount can be requested, but must be authorized by EGLE.
  • The community must assure that the plumbers conduct appropriate flushing and provide information on the importance of flushing and use of filters to residents if needed.
  • A 25% local match is required.
  • Grant funds will be given on a reimbursement basis after receiving a receipt of appropriate supporting documentation.

Communities interested in getting access to the grant should email EGLE.

“Michiganders need clean water in their homes now more than ever to protect their health and slow the spread of COVID-19 by washing their hands,” said Robert Gordon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). “MDHHS is pleased to work to help connect families to critical services and remove barriers to good health practices.”

“Keeping water flowing, and restoring service where necessary, is vital to defending our state’s residents against COVID-19,” said Liesl Clark, director of EGLE.

View Executive Order 2020-28 here.

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