LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has extended an executive order protecting Michigan residents from having their water shut off through the end of the year.
“As Michigan families grapple with the impacts of COVID-19 on public health and our economy, our administration is taking proactive steps to ensure that no one has to worry about having access to clean drinking water or losing power during this unprecedented crisis,” Whitmer said. “Extending these protections is the right thing to do, and I remain committed to working with the legislature and our partners in the federal government to develop long-term policy solutions to make water affordable for every family in Michigan.”
Executive order 2020-144 extends protections for Michigan residents who have had water service shut off through Dec. 31, 2020.
The initial order on water protections was signed in late March. The Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy worked to create a Restart Grant Program to help cities comply and pay for the reconnection program, starting with a $500,000 grant to Detroit.
A total of 2,477 Michiganders have had their water restored during the coronavirus pandemic, including more than 1,200 families in Detroit.
Last week, Whitmer signed supplemental bill SB 690, which includes $25 million for the Department of Health and Human Services to reimburse water utility providers for providing bill forgiveness for past due utility bills and fees incurred by residential water customers during the COVID-19 state of emergency.
The legislation also provides a 25% rebate on total water bills for eligible customers while funding lasts.
“Hand washing is our first line of defense against the spread of disease, and every person in our state needs access to running water to protect themselves, their families and their communities,” U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence said.
“For the health and safety of all, we fully understand the importance of having access to water in your home,” Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley said.
Whitmer is asking for legislation requiring local water utilities to report information to the state to ensure transparency around rates and provide a clear picture of the needs of Michiganders and practices being utilized by water utilities.