In a rare show of unity, lawmakers from both parties came together this month to protect the Great Lakes. A spending bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee provides $300 million for Great Lakes restoration and protection. The measure cleared committee and now goes to the full Senate. Funding is for next year and flows through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). The amount is the same as the GLRI has received in most other years. The Trump budget did not support GLRI funding but representatives of both parties fought to retain it.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) was launched in 2010 to accelerate efforts aimed at Great Lakes restoration and protection. The primary focus of the GLRI includes:
- Cleaning up Great Lakes Areas of Concern
- Preventing and controlling invasive species
- Reducing nutrient runoff that contributes to harmful/nuisance algal blooms
- Restoring habitat to protect native fish and other species
The bill provides:
· $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to clean up toxic pollution, reduce farm and urban runoff, control invasive species, and restore fish and wildlife habitat. The bill maintains funding at the same level as last fiscal year, which is $300 million more than the Trump Administration’s budget request.
· $1.394 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to help communities finance wastewater infrastructure. The bill maintains funding at the same level as last fiscal year, and is the same amount as the Trump Administration’s budget request.
· $864 million for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to help communities finance drinking water infrastructure. The bill maintains funding at the same level as last fiscal year, and is the same amount as the Trump Administration’s budget request.
A GLRI report to Congress for the year 2016 provides information about a plethora of Great Lakes restoration initiatives including:
- Cleanup of the St. Clair River, Michigan so it can now be removed from the list of Great Lakes Areas of Concern
- Cleanup of chemicals like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the Grand Calument River Area of Concern
- Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission data collection to provide improved information about fish consumption advisories for mercury
- Urban stormwater runoff reduction at Lake Superior’s twin ports (Duluth/Superior)
- Lake Superior coastal wetland restoration in Wisconsin and Michigan
- Monitoring plumes to Lake Superior and impacts on nearshore waters from the 1 in 500 year flood event which struck the Wisconsin/Michigan border area near Lake Superior (Saxon Harbor area)
- A citizen reporting system for harmful algae blooms affecting animals and people aimed at illness prevention.