About the Drinking Water Toolkit

“Is my water safe to drink?”

“Who can I trust to tell me the truth about my drinking water?”

“Why do my water bills keep going up?”


People all over Michigan are asking questions about their drinking water.

The answers vary person-by-person for the nearly 10 million of us who call the Great Lake State home.

The Drinking Water Toolkit follows your water on its journey from the source to your faucet. However, that journey differs from place to place, and property to property.

Some of us get our water from a private well drilled at or near our homes. For most Michiganders, our in-home plumbing connects back to a public drinking water system. The largest is the Great Lakes Water Authority which serves over 3.9 million residents in Southeast Michigan. Public drinking water systems vary significantly in size, by the source of their water, and by how state and local officials regulate them.

To understand your water, you need to know about the type of drinking water system it comes from. So, our toolkit starts there.

From there, we follow—in order—the four basic steps water takes on its journey:

Source: Where your drinking water comes from—either an underground aquifer/groundwater source or a surface water body such as a lake or river.

Treatment: How your water is treated (or not treated) to address chemical or biological contaminants, or simply improve its taste, odor, or appearance.

Distribution: The system of pipes and pumps that delivers water to your tap or fixture.

Consumption: the pipes and fixtures within the walls of your home, and your personal water use habits.

Because more and more Michigan households are struggling to pay rising water bills—and because water shutoffs jeopardize the health and well-being of a growing number of families—this toolkit also addresses issues of cost and affordability of safe drinking water.

It will help you find out how your water bill is calculated, where you or your neighbors can turn for help when you can’t afford to pay in full, and the changes we can make across Michigan to make sure every Michigan home has the water it needs.



It’s worth stating the central theme of this toolkit: RISK.

Thanks to advances in science, technology, and engineering—and more robust government regulations and oversight—our tap water today is much safer than it once was. The United States has one of the safest public drinking water supplies in the world.

But even when the latest rules and procedures are followed to the letter, regulators and engineers cannot completely eliminate health risks to our drinking water. The Flint water crisis—and major problems in other places like the emerging PFAS crisis—has taught us painful lessons about what can happen when those safeguards break down.

As you will see on this website, the Michigan Environmental Council is working for changes to our drinking water laws and systems to significantly reduce these risks. But, barring some major scientific breakthrough, we will never completely eliminate many of the related hazards.

The most important job of the Drinking Water Toolkit is to help you understand and reduce risks specific to your drinking water, so you can make good choices and feel confident about the water you’re drinking.


The Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) created the Drinking Water Toolkit as a project of XXX

MEC is a coalition of more than 60 organizations created in 1980 to lead Michigan’s environmental movement in achieving positive change through public policy solutions.

MEC combines deep environmental policy expertise with close connections to key state and federal decision-makers, decades of experience getting things done in the political process, and an ability to rally broad and powerful alliances in support of reforms. With our member groups and partners in the public health and faith-based communities, MEC promotes public policies to ensure that Michigan families will enjoy clear waters, clean beaches, beautiful landscapes, and healthy communities for years to come.