Infrastructure is the foundation of our everyday lives

Why is infrastructure in Michigan important? Michigan’s infrastructure touches everything about life, work and play in Michigan:

  1. Roads and bridges
  2. Stormwater and wastewater sewer systems
  3. Drinking water systems that deliver clean, safe drinking water to our communities
  4. Dams on rivers and lakes, and more

Michigan’s infrastructure, above and below ground

Stormwater & Wastewater Sewer Systems

  1. Stormwater sewer systems are constructed mostly underground and can run for hundreds of miles. They manage runoff from rainfall, snow and ice melt, irrigation systems, parking lots, rooftops, and more.
  2. Wastewater sewer systems are intricate mazes of underground pipes that use pump stations to collect and transport wastewater from our bathroom sinks, showers, tubs and toilets, from laundry facilities and kitchen sinks to community wastewater treatment plants.

Together, these systems prevent flooding of Michigan roads and highways, neighborhoods, basements, and entire communities, and they keep raw sewage and other pollutants from spilling into Michigan lakes, rivers and streams.

Many of Michigan’s stormwater and wastewater systems were built 50 to 100 years ago and are in desperate need of repairs and upgrades.

Drinking & Recreational Waters

Water is special to Michigan. Reliable infrastructure is important and essential to keeping our water safe and clean. 

Water at Home

About 75 percent of Michigan’s population get water for drinking, bathing and cooking from one of the state’s 1,390 community water systems. Most of the systems get their raw water from one of the Great Lakes or a few inland rivers.

The systems are made up of complex water treatment plants and facilities that rely on pumps, motors, valves, hydrants, storage tanks and thousands of miles of pipes to deliver safe, clean water to our faucets.

All of these components make up Michigan’s water system infrastructure. Failing to maintain this infrastructure can turn into an economic and public health catastrophe — just ask the people of Flint.

Our Water Way of Life

Water means more to Michiganders. Water is where we play. Water is childhood memories swimming, fishing, boating, canoeing, kayaking and camping at the lake. Water also plays a lead role in Michigan’s $26.3 billion tourism economy.

  1. The five Great Lakes contain 20 percent of the world’s fresh water.
  2. Michigan has the longest freshwater shoreline in the world.
  3. Forty of our 83 counties touch one of the Great Lakes.
  4. Michigan has more than 11,000 inland lakes and 36,000 miles of streams.
  5. Michigan has more than 1,220 public beaches and 510 private beaches on inland lakes, ponds, rivers, and the Great Lakes, according to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
  6. Michigan is home to nearly 1 million registered boats and 300,000 non-registered canoes and kayaks.
  7. Michigan has 1,300 public access sites and more than 1,060 marinas for boaters to launch or store their vessels.
  8. Michigan is known worldwide for fishing, with 153 different species of fish.
  9. More than 1.4 million Michigan residents and 340,000 non-residents fish Michigan waters.

Reliable infrastructure protects Michigan’s recreational waters and beaches from E. coli and other pollutants and toxins.

Roads & Bridges

Roads and bridges are the foundation Michigan’s manufacturing, tourism, agriculture and retail economies. In 2019, tourists spent more than $26.3 billion in Michigan, all while traveling on our crumbling infrastructure. 

We rely on safe, reliable roads and bridges to:

  1. Move commerce from Michigan business to markets, parts and supplies to Michigan manufacturers and retail stores. Approximately $860 billion in freight moves through Michigan’s highways, rails and ports every year. Thirty-eight percent of the half-trillion annual trade between U.S. and Canada’s goes though Michigan.
  2. Take Michigan citizens to work, school, doctor’s appointments, “Up North” on vacation or out for a night of fun.

Roads and bridges in bad shape contribute to accidents and fatalities, drive up vehicle repair costs, and contribute to traffic jams and delays.

By the Numbers

miles of paved road in Michigan

miles are driven on Michigan roadways every year

roadway bridges in Michigan

By most measures, Michigan’s roads and bridges are among the nation’s worst. Michigan ranks seventh in the nation for interstates in poor condition, and sixth in the nation for bridges in poor condition. That’s not a top 10 that we want to be in.

Dams & More

More than 2,580 dams in our state protect communities from massive floods, create recreational waters for boating, fishing and kayaking, generate electrical power, store water to fight fires, provide water for crops and livestock, and support economic development.

A dam failure can threaten public safety and the environment and cause catastrophic economic damage.

More than two-thirds of Michigan’s dams have reached their typical 50-year design life.