Credit: Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission

This month in water related news, the Federal administration passes a bill that will help with water infrastructure in our region. At the same time, a series of lawsuits are making it challenging for Michigan municipalities to fund stormwater management. Also, read an update about Washtenaw County’s Border-to-Border trail progress, reflections on governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer’s water agenda, and the roll out of SEMCOG’s water resource plan.

Lawmakers authorize water infrastructure projects  In October, Congress approved America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.  This article summarizes how it will support water infrastructure improvements in the Midwest. This legislation is critically important as the nation’s infrastructure ages. It will provide significant funding for the improvement of dams, drinking water systems and urban stormwater management. However, states and local governments are still expected to bring the majority of the money to these investments.

Oak Park Settles Storm Water Fee Lawsuit for $2,850,000 This settlement highlights an ongoing debate about the legal requirements for implementing stormwater utilities. Some municipalities in Michigan have been using them to fund the costs of managing and maintaining stormwater systems from commercial and residential property owners who benefit. Most communities have costly and potentially dangerous issues with aging stormwater infrastructure and no way to pay for improvements. For broader context check out this article: Law firm gets rich off sewer lawsuits against cities and townships, which points to state legislation introduced in early 2018 that could help solve the issue.

Private-public partnerships accelerate completion of county’s Border-to-Border Trail The Washtenaw segment of the Border-to-Border Trail, which provides a vital recreational connection to the Huron River, is moving along ahead of schedule and will help connect trails to Jackson and Wayne Counties.

Great Lakes opportunities, obstacles await new governors in Michigan and Wisconsin This opinion piece talks about the potential challenges Michigan’s governor-elect faces on issues related to water.

MML#5: Officials Learn about SEMCOG Water Resources Plan  The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments released its “Water Resources Plan for Southeast Michigan” this year and is now talking about the findings of the report with municipal governments throughout the region. Learn more about this effort and the nearly 30 policies recommended for local governments to support the protection of water resources.