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Whitmer directs agencies to prepare for lead service line replacement

Construction worker holding lead pipes in Flint
mark brush
Michigan Radio

The governor signed an executive directive Monday aimed at speeding up water infrastructure projects.

The state is expecting to receive a new round of federal money from the recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

The directive outlines what agencies should be doing in advance of getting those funds.

Speaking at a press conference in Owosso, Governor Gretchen Whitmer said Michigan isn’t the only state needing to replace aging water infrastructure.

“We’re further ahead than other states in terms of assessing and knowing where the risk is. That was a reaction to what happened in Flint a few years ago and so we’ve got some of the most aggressive laws on the books,” Whitmer said.

The governor’s office estimates the incoming wave of federal money will help speed up the projected 15-to-20-year timeline for total replacement of lead service lines.

Whitmer was in Owosso Charter Township to promote a $1 million dollar capital investment that will help create 100 new jobs for boat manufacturer Crest Marine.

While there, she also fielded questions about Michigan’s spiking COVID-19 cases. CDC data show Michigan still leads the nation in the daily new cases per capita over the past seven days.

Whitmer said the word “alarming” is appropriate to describe the current situation.

“COVID cases are up all across the Midwest. It’s getting colder. We’re going inside. We’re congregating. And we’re going into the holidays, and I am worried that our COVID numbers will continue to grow,” she said.

Whitmer says she expects state agencies to come out with additional guidance closer to the holidays.

State data show over 10% of Michigan children between the ages of 5 and 11 have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.