Water plant groundbreaking

July 13, 2018

Thank you, Bob (Ellerhorst), and congratulations on your pending retirement. Thank you for your years of dedicated service to Michigan State.

And let me add my welcome to everyone here today to help us mark the official groundbreaking for our new water project.

It’s easy to take water for granted when you live in a state with more surface water than just about any other … surrounded by 3,400 miles of shoreline … and some 11,000 inland lakes.

One in five Michigan jobs is tied to water-dependent industries.

Water is a central part of Michigan’s history and its very identity — even from space, it stands out from the Great Lakes.

But we know we shouldn't’t take clean water for granted, especially the water we drink. 

Like many other places, Michigan’s water infrastructure is under stress from age and growing demand.

Michigan’s 21st Century Infrastructure Commission figured that the annual investment necessary to bring our communities’ water systems up to standard is some $800 million.

But this campus is in better shape than many places, thanks to foresighted infrastructure investments over many years.

The billion gallons of water our 15 pumps supply each year is tested regularly and is safe to drink.

But high mineral content creates problems with the plumbing.

Iron, in particular, stains our fixtures and necessitates the occasional “red water alert.”

The dissolved iron coats our 67 miles of pipes, fouls plumbing fixtures, and requires more frequent system flushing.

It ages equipment and filters used for drinking fountains and for laboratory use.

We encourage people to drink from reusable containers, by the way … and we’re replacing old drinking fountains with new ADA-compliant and filtered fountains that can refill bottles.

So, we’ve known for a long time that we should do more to get the minerals out of the water.

A couple years ago, MSU initiated a study to look at ways to meet a higher standard and to bring our water quality up to that of our neighboring communities.

It resulted in the project we’re celebrating today: a treatment plant capable of filtering 6 million gallons a day and a new 2-million-gallon elevated tank.

We’re looking forward to putting them into service when construction is completed in a couple years. (May, 2020)

The treatment plant will reduce system maintenance and the elevated tank will save us $150,000 a year in the cost of energy to re-pump water from the current underground tank. 

The new tank also will double our storage capacity.

The bottom line is that Michigan State is an acknowledged leader in water science, and people who come here expect the water to look and taste pure.

This project will allow us to deliver that standard to the campus community.

Thank you for joining us for this occasion, and I’ll turn it back over to Bob.