“Water Investing Gap” in Michigan Stands in Way of 90,000 New Jobs in State, $8.8 Billion in Workers’ Paychecks

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$22,000 a Day on Bottled Water for Flint:  Chronically Underfunded, Maintenance-deferred Water Infrastructure Costs Michigan Money.

Investing $12 billion on top of existing water infrastructure expenditures over the next two decades would address the Flint water problem and also create nearly 90,000 direct full-time jobs and generate $8.8 billion in total direct, indirect, and induced labor income in Michigan, according to a new study from the national, nonpartisan business group E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs).

According to the report, How Investing in Michigan’s Water Infrastructure Protects Our Economy, Creates Jobs and Drives Growth, overhauling Michigan’s infrastructure—including residential waterlines, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure—would generate $441 million in additional wages for workers and $28 million in state and local tax revenue every year for 20 years.

“Keeping Michigan’s water infrastructure functioning properly — and keeping contaminants out of our water supplies — is essential to the state’s economy, public health and our quality of life,” said Micaela Preskill, E2 Midwest Advocate.

Michigan has for decades underinvested in its water infrastructure at the expense of the economy and the health of families in the state. By updating and investing in fresh water technology, Michigan would be tapping into a sector worth over $100 billion annually in the U.S. and $400 billion globally. Surrounded by 84 percent of North America’s surface fresh water, Michigan is in a unique competitive advantage that can bring thousands of jobs and billions of dollars to local economies across the state.

“As a company delivering safe, innovative and sustainable infrastructure solutions in Flint, we’ve seen first-hand how having access to clean, reliable water benefits businesses and communities, alike,” said Rhonda Grayer, owner of Flint-based WT Stevens. “We believe that reinvesting in Michigan’s water infrastructure is necessary to do business and allows us to create jobs that bring resources back to our communities.”

Chronically underfunded, maintenance-deferred water infrastructure costs Michigan money. As of 2018 the state was spending $22,000 a day on bottled water in Flint. The American Society of Civil Engineers, currently, gives low grades for various Michigan water system components: drinking water (D), stormwater (D-) and wastewater (C).

“Great beer starts with clean water,” said Dayne Bartscht, founder of Detroit-based Eastern Market Brewing Co. “Michigan has become known for its craft beer and a big part of that is our easy access to the Great Lakes. At Eastern Market Brewing Co, we believe it’s time to ensure everyone in Michigan, including our fellow breweries, can trust in the future of our water. Knowing how many jobs will be created through these infrastructure investments is just another added bonus.”

Based on averaging the findings of five studies on Michigan’s water infrastructure, E2 estimates the amount of spending required over the next two decades to overhaul the state’s water infrastructure — including residential waterlines, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure — is an additional $12.2 billion on top of existing expenditures. This works out to about $610 million in additional, essential expenditures every year. Given that E2’s analysis was based in part on studies conducted when PFAS was not a widely known issue, additional expenditures for more expensive and/or extensive filtration could be required.

Economy Opportunity and Jobs

  • Nearly 4,500 direct jobs, more than 300 indirect jobs and more than 2,900 induced jobs would be sustained each year over the 20-year period of additional expenditures.
    • That works out to nearly 90,000 direct, full-time job-years over the next two decades.
  • The occupational clusters expected to experience the greatest growth across all job types – direct, indirect and induced – are in construction and extraction, office and administrative support, sales and related occupations, management, transportation and materials moving.
  • Of the $610 million in additional expenditures over the 20-year period, $441 million each year would go into the pockets of workers who are directly and indirectly involved with the overhaul of water systems.
  • Earned income growth and increased business activity in the water infrastructure sector adds an additional $34.7 million in additional tax revenue every year for two decades, the vast majority of which goes directly to state and local municipalities

The need for strong investment in Michigan’s water infrastructure is further underscored when looking at the importance of water to the broader Michigan economy.

  • Commercial Fishing generates $40 million in annual revenues
  • Craft Brewing employs more than 5,000 Michiganders who take home $150 million in annual wages

For more information or to inquire about interviewing the authors of the report and speak with Michigan business leaders who believe clean water is vital to the state’s economy, please contact Michael Timberlake at (202) 289-2407 or mtimberlake@e2.org.

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