MI Water Navigator - Water Infrastructure Helpdesk
Michigan Municipal League Foundation
Website and Technical Help Desk to Improve Access to Water Infrastructure Funding Options
In 2022, the Michigan Municipal League Foundation (MMLF) and a group of collaborating organizations introduced the MI Water Navigator Program and website to help municipalities and water utilities statewide to obtain state and federal infrastructure funding for safe, clean drinking water. The MI Water Navigator Program is intended to help communities find funding regardless of their economic means or lack of staff capacity. MMLF hopes not only to assist with funding access, but to better understand the various barriers to funding and effectively advocate for state-level policy changes to water infrastructure funding in Michigan.
The MI Water Navigator website is a water infrastructure funding database, online learning library, and customer service Helpdesk staffed by water experts from OHM Advisors and a network of technical experts who assist public and private water systems in navigating and applying for water infrastructure project funding. Once a community submits an inquiry through the website, a Helpdesk team member reaches out to assess the community’s assets and needs and determine whether it qualifies as overburdened, then works to identify applicable funding sources and advise the community on the best course of action. Finally, the Helpdesk team provides the resources to apply for funding or works directly with an overburdened community to help it complete funding applications on a first come, first served basis. One year after launch, 50% of communities who submitted Helpdesk inquiries qualified as overburdened or significantly overburdened (formerly disadvantaged).
OHM Advisors provided website project management and subject matter expertise to build the MI Water Navigator website. MMLF is currently developing educational tools for the website’s resource library to help communities obtain necessary drinking water infrastructure funding—and in the future, funding for stormwater and wastewater infrastructure as well. Webinars, videos, and a series of downloadable toolkits that walk through common applications will be available on the website at no cost to communities who use it.
Project highlights: Funding consultant services and technical support; website management consulting services, water infrastructure, drinking water