Blog  /  July 2018  /  Q2 2018 Regional Roundup: Part 3/3

Blog Post Teaser

This blog series examines major trends and newsworthy events that occurred in the US water industry during the second quarter of 2018.  The third part of the series focuses on activity within the Midwest/Great Lakes and Central Plains regions of the US, as well as grant and funding information related to the water industry.


The Midwest/Great Lakes region consists of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

  • In the second quarter of 2018, the largest demand for infrastructure improvements and upgrades in the US occurred in the Midwest/Great Lakes region, with Illinois and Michigan accounting for over half of the region’s demand.   Additionally, the Midwest/Great Lakes region generated the largest demand for surface, coating, and lining products and services across the country, with Illinois and Ohio collectively comprising just over 60 percent of the region’s requests during the second quarter of 2018.
  • In April 2018, Minnesota officials began dividing up the $850 million settlement received from its lawsuit with 3M Company regarding former Scotchgard ingredients – perfluorinated chemicals—that got into the state’s drinking water.  According to officials, approximately $720 million of the settlement money remains after legal fees, paybacks for water testing, and other expenses.  Their main objectives for the balance will be to focus on projects involving clean drinking water and environmental upgrades.
  • Additionally, in April 2018, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources approved Foxconn Technology Group's request to pull 7 million gallons of water daily from Lake Michigan to serve its new manufacturing plant in Mount Pleasant.  The Taiwanese electronics manufacturer was expected to begin construction on the $10 million flat-screen plant during the second quarter of 2018.  Foxconn estimates that approximately 2.7 million gallons of water will be consumed daily by plant operations and evaporation, while the rest will be treated and returned to the lake.  The approval of this plan has drawn opposition from environmental groups that proclaim the contract breaks the Great Lakes Compact.
  • In June 2018, the strictest lead drinking water rules in the country went into effect in Michigan.  The new rules put in place by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will lower the lead action level from 15 parts per billion (ppb) to 12 ppb starting in 2025.  Additionally, the new rules require municipalities throughout the state to replace all lead drinking water service lines (amounting to more than 500,000 lead pipes), including those on private property.  The replacement work, which has an estimated cost of $2.5 billion, is expected to take until 2040 to complete.
  • During the second quarter of 2018, the results of a study on ballast water discharge conducted by the Great Waters Research Collaborative, a project of the University of Wisconsin’s Lake Superior Research Institute, found that Great Lakes ships are moving non-native species from the lower lakes to western Lake Superior.  As part of the study, researchers sampled 15 ballast water discharges from 8 US and Canadian lake vessels in 2017, of which 13 samples contained non-native species, including five species of zooplankton not yet established in western Lake Superior and one species of zooplankton that had not previously been recorded in the Great Lakes.


The Central Plains region consists of Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.  

  • During the second quarter of 2018, Colorado, Kansas, and Iowa had the greatest need for stormwater management in the Central Plains, collectively representing nearly two-thirds of the region’s total requests.  Opportunities within these states included the development of flood mitigation plans and the installation and/or rehabilitation of storm sewers and intakes, manholes, stormwater pipes, inlets, culverts, and other drainage structures.
  • Also, in late April 2018, the US EPA approved Montana’s five-year water pollution management plan intended to protect the state’s water quality from the effects of non-point source pollution, which covers a broad range of diffuse pollutants.  The plan was updated by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality to focus on the types of water pollution related to agricultural and forestry practices, road building and maintenance, urban stormwater runoff, and other land use activities.  The revised plan emphasizes the voluntary implementation of best management practices such as reducing runoff and erosion from unpaved roads or managing livestock grazing to protect riparian areas along streams.
  • In May 2018, the Utah Division of Water Resources launched a statewide rebates program intended to encourage water conservation.  Specifically, the legislative-sponsored program will offer rebates on technologies ranging from low-flow toilets to irrigation controllers.  The first water conservation rebate available through the Utah Water Savers website is for smart timers, which are irrigation controllers designed to receive environmental data about current soil and weather conditions and determine if it’s a day that plants need to be watered.  According to the US EPA, the installation of a smart timer can save a minimum of 8,000 gallons of water per year.


  • In the second quarter of 2018, two-thirds of undeployed funding opportunities in the US water sector were accessible through government entities or agencies, while the remaining opportunities were available via atypical sources such as non-profit organizations, commercial companies, foundations, and private investors.  For example, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is offering grants to support water quality improvement, watershed protection, and aquatic habitat restoration projects that involve enhancing flood control and hydrological and ecological conditions, while the Chesapeake Bay Trust has grants available to help non-profit organizations, municipalities, and other eligible applicants with projects that treat and control stormwater, reduce nutrient and sediment pollution, and improve water quality in various waterways. 
  • Capital for market development and expansion activities accounted for 21 percent of the US water sector’s undeployed funding opportunities in the second quarter of 2018.  For example, there was funding available to spur economic growth and help small businesses and other organizations with expansion plans that included acquiring working capital, equipment, and other assets.
  • Furthermore, 20 percent of funding opportunities available within the US water industry in the second quarter of 2018 were related to planning, design, and engineering services, including the development and implementation of water testing programs, coastal protection strategies, brownfield site cleanup and redevelopment activities, watershed plans, and desalination projects for irrigation usage.


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