Lt. Governor Gilchrist and MDARD Director Gary McDowell Highlight $44 Million Investment in Michigan Infrastructure

Government and Politics

September 23, 2022

From: Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer

Milk River Intercounty Drainage District will serve Macomb and Wayne County communities with drainage and flood protection 

ST. CLAIR SHORES, MI – On Sep 22nd, Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist and Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Director Gary McDowell highlighted a $44 million investment to upgrade Milk River Intercounty Drain Drainage District (MRIDDD) facilities, modernize systems, and improve performance, reliability, and quality. MRIDDD accepts storm drainage from the cities of Harper Woods and St. Clair Shores and combined sewage from the City of Grosse Pointe Woods. Lt. Governor Gilchrist and Director McDowell toured the upgraded facilities.  

"Our administration has set the bar for commitment for investing and rebuilding infrastructure across our state," said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. "Under Governor Whitmer's leadership, we have already fixed 16,000 lane miles of road, but we aren’t stopping there. We are investing in critical infrastructure improvements and repairing Michigan's water infrastructure and drain systems to protect public health while growing our economy. Projects like the Milk River Intercounty Drain showcase what can happen when we work together to improve our communities."   

MRIDDD stores combined sewage during rain events that exceed the capacity of the downstream system and provide treatment for any discharges. The facilities also provide flood protection to the tributary communities, pumping flows from large storm events to prevent basement and street flooding. 

“When we talk about investing into Michigan’s infrastructure, often, people think of how we’re fixing our roads, but infrastructure improvements include much more, like our robust intercounty drain systems,” said Director Gary McDowell. “There are more than 1,000 intercounty drainage systems in Michigan with an estimated combined length of more than 6,000 miles, serving approximately six million acres. County and intercounty drains play a critical role in developing agriculture, roads, and highways, residential, and commercial properties by removing excess soil moisture, reducing flood impacts, and improving public health.” 

While MRIDDD underwent significant improvements in the early 1990s, as of 2016, much of the District’s facilities and equipment needed important updates and modernization. Construction on renovated facilities and equipment began in November 2016 and is now near competition.   

Infrastructure improvements included: 

  • Refurbishment and replacement of pumping systems. 

  • Modification of facility cleaning systems to effectively discharge solids to the wastewater treatment plant. 
  • Repair and upgrade of the aeration system. 
  • Refurbishment of the disinfection system. 
  • Structural and architectural repairs to the facilities to extend life and comply with current code.  
  • Upgrades to the electrical system to improve reliability and efficiency. 

  • Upgrades to the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system. 
  • Upgrades to the river recirculation system to enhance water quality in the Milk River. 

Throughout 2022, Director McDowell is meeting with Michigan's food and agricultural businesses to focus on how they can continue to thrive in Michigan's new economy and how best MDARD can assist their continuous development. 

Investing in water infrastructure 

Since taking office, Governor Whitmer?has invested more resources into water infrastructure than the previous eight years combined. These investments support good-paying jobs and ensure every parent can give their kid a glass of drinking water and know it’s safe. 

The Building Michigan Together Plan includes nearly $2 billion to address critical water infrastructure needs, creating 27,000 jobs. More than $1 billion for drinking water improvements, including $325 million to replace lead service lines, $55 million to reduce toxic contaminants like PFAS, and funds to rebuild wastewater and sewer infrastructure, protect groundwater resources, provide clean water for schools and childcare centers, prevent highway flooding, and more.  

The Building Michigan Together Plan builds on over $2 billion in investments made in water infrastructure since the governor took office, which have supported an additional 30,000 jobs – 57,000 jobs in total. 

The bipartisan FY2023 budget the governor signed ensures even more water infrastructure upgrades by helping communities leverage state and federal funding to remove lead service lines more quickly, modernize water infrastructure, and test and protect clean water.

The governor also signed bipartisan legislation to update Michigan’s State Revolving Fund statute, making it easier for communities to finance and initiate water infrastructure projects and allowing dollars to flow more efficiently to address modern infrastructure needs of communities throughout Michigan.