In 2012, water softening chemical prices increased, something that hit service providers in the center of Michigan’s lower peninsula particularly hard. These mid-Michigan utilities, clustered around the capital city of Lansing, draw water from the Saginaw Aquifer. Saginaw Aquifer water is particularly hard, and requires a number of chemical inputs to soften it for use and consumption. These rising chemical costs put extra pressure on water utilities as they attempted to distribute safe and high quality water, while keeping rate increases modest.
As a result of the price increases, central Michigan communities began exploring ways to cut costs and keep rates low. In 2014, the Lansing Board of Water and Light, the East Lansing-Meridian Water and Sewer Authority (East Lansing-Meridian), and the City of Jackson started meeting with the Groundwater Management Board in Lansing and the Michigan Chapter of the American Water Works Association to explore opportunities for cost savings. Water infrastructure consultants at the meeting suggested that the joint chemical purchasing arrangement in the Holland-Grand Rapids area might offer an approach that central Michigan communities could replicate to save on chemical costs. After speaking with Holland and Grand Rapids utilities, in 2014 the Lansing Board of Water and Light and East Lansing-Meridian formed a chemical purchasing group, the Mid-Michigan Drinking Water Consortium (MMDWC).