A federal plan to invest an additional $1 billion in the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to clean up toxic pollution in the Great Lakes region was recently announced to restore the Great Lakes and to protect the drinking water, public health, and the jobs of millions of people in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Wisconsin, according to the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition.
“This investment will be a game-changer in the effort to clean up pollution that has poisoned local drinking water and threatened the health of communities,” said Laura Rubin, director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “This investment will benefit millions of people, provide a shot in the arm to Great Lakes restoration efforts, and support local economies.”
The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition pushed for increased Great Lakes investments in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The bill contains an additional $1 billion for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative actions.
The Environmental Protection Agency is directing that funding to clean up the most polluted sites in the region. These sites – called Areas of Concern – contain high levels of cancer-causing and health-threatening pollution, such as PCB’s, mercury, and other chemicals, that have poisoned the water and led to drinking water restrictions, fish consumption advisories, and beach closures.
The six states and 22 sites targeted as Areas of Concern to be cleaned up through 2030 include Ohio’s Maumee River, Black River and Cuyahoga River.
“The clean-up of these toxic hot-spots will benefit communities most impacted by pollution,” said Brenda Coley, co-chair of the Coalition and co-executive director of Milwaukee Water Commons.
“This funding will accelerate vital restoration efforts,” said Marnie Urso, co-chair of the Coalition and senior policy director for Audubon Great Lakes. “Many of these polluted sites are in communities along the Great Lakes shoreline that contain important habitat for birds. Federal investments to remediate these sites benefit people and wildlife —and these investments have been doing wonders to help recover declining populations of threatened and declining species such as the Piping Plover and Black Tern.”