Michigan Municipal League Foundation Launches Water Navigator Service to Help Communities with Drinking Water Infrastructure Funding Opportunities
ANN ARBOR, Michigan — The Michigan Municipal League Foundation launched a new initiative today aimed at helping communities take advantage of available drinking water infrastructure funding. The MI Water Navigator Helpdesk service will provide online resources to both municipal water systems and private utilities to help them search for and obtain state and federal water infrastructure dollars.
The program, announced during a virtual news conference Monday, March 14, will offer free toolkits and webinars that explain and walk-through various application processes for funding sources, including the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), USDA Rural Development & Environmental Programs (WEP), and American Rescue Plan and MI Clean Water Plan applications that are soon to become available. The MI Water Navigator Helpdesk is a partnership between the Michigan Municipal League Foundation, the Michigan Municipal League (MML), the Environmental Policy Innovation Center (EPIC), and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).
“Michigan’s leaders are stewards of 21 percent of the earth’s fresh surface water, yet our water infrastructure is in desperate need of repair,” said Michigan Municipal League Foundation President Helen Davis Johnson. “With the launch of the MI Water Navigator Helpdesk, we can help communities identify available sources of funding and give them the support they need to apply for and win more revolving loan and grant dollars for their projects.”
Michigan ranks last in the nation for accessing State Revolving Fund loans and grants for drinking water and water conservation. At the same time, the state also has more funding for water infrastructure than ever before and competition for resources is ramping up.
Last December, the Michigan Senate unanimously passed legislation that allocates $3.3 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act dollars, and state general fund resources to improve water infrastructure statewide. That legislation is now awaiting approval in the House and signature by the governor.
“The influx in federal stimulus dollars presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to repair and replace aging water infrastructure. By putting these funds to work we can resolve public health problems, reduce environmental contamination, and provide current and future generations with resilient and sustainable systems,” said MML Legislative Associate Herasanna Richards “The Water Navigator Helpdesk is a great tool to help communities proactively prepare to leverage current and future resources. It is a gateway to opportunities that can improve our water systems and provide needed capacity and expertise to work collaboratively with our local communities.”
National planning, engineering and urban design firm OHM Advisors will provide technical assistance to participants in the Water Navigator program. Free hands-on support will be made available to disadvantaged communities to help with grant applications from start to finish. The level of assistance provided will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
“When it comes to obtaining funds for a community, half the battle is knowing what’s available. This helpdesk puts that information in one easy-to-find place,” said Sterling Heights City Manager Mark Vanderpool, a participant in Monday’s news conference. “The other half of the battle with securing grant funding is having the time and energy to apply for assistance. The Water Navigator program helps with that too by offering free toolkits and webinars that will explain various application processes for funding sources.”
The MI Water Navigator Helpdesk is being officially unveiled to Michigan Municipal League members at the 2022 MML Capital Conference happening at the Lansing Center. League members will be able test out the program during an interactive workshop session at the conference. Technical advisors will also be available to provide one-on-one consultation about the program.
The program is supported through grants from the Joyce Foundation and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.
The Michigan Municipal League Foundation is the supporting foundation of the Michigan Municipal League.
For additional information contact the League’s Matt Bach, assistant director of strategic communications, at (810) 874-1073 and [email protected].
Michigan Municipal Leagueis dedicated to making Michigan’s communities better by thoughtfully innovating programs, energetically connecting ideas and people, actively serving members with resources and services, and passionately inspiring positive change for Michigan’s greatest centers of potential: its communities. The League advocates on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington, D.C., and the courts; provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services. Learn more at mml.org.
The MML Foundationis working to advance community wealth building across Michigan. The foundation does this work through strategic partnerships, investments in strong, diverse leadership for Michigan communities and place-based initiatives that drive equitable outcomes.