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August 1st 2017

Washington Update: July 31, 2017

Asian Carp Study to be Released

A long awaited study presenting options to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp will finally be released August 7. The Brandon Road Study was due to be released in February, when the Trump Administration unexpectedly blocked it, causing concern in the wider Great Lakes community. Following a push by Great Lakes advocates and many Members of Congress, the Administration is now planning to release the study. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) announced the news Friday, July 28. Representatives around the region applauded the news, including Reps. Huizenga (R-Mich.) and Moolenaar (R-Mich.). Read more here.

Movement on Water Infrastructure

On Thursday, July 27, the House Energy and Commerce committee passed a bill that would fund drinking water infrastructure upgrades and repairs. The bill includes re-authorization of the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund with an increase on the amount of funding that can be allocated, from $1 billion to $2 billion. Additionally, the bill contains a grant program to remove lead-contaminated drinking fountains in schools. There’s language in the bill that would authorize the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to consolidate water utilities if they are found to be consistently violating public health rules.

The bill passed out of committee unanimously with bipartisan support.

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July 31st 2017

Weekly News Roundup: Toxic Dredged Materials, Line 5 Safety, and More

In case you missed them, here were some of the Great Lakes restoration stories that made news last week:


mLive reports that a bipartisan group of Michigan lawmakers are urging the U.S. Department of Commerce to maintain the size of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Huron. This follows President Trump’s executive order to review protected ocean and aquatic areas for potential offshore oil and gas drilling. Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is pushing for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to release a long-awaited study examining the potential environmental effects of measures recommended to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes, reports the Detroit News. And an editorial in the Watertown Daily News praised congressional lawmakers who voted to fully fund the GLRI, following the Trump Administration’s proposed elimination of the program.


The U.S. EPA awarded a $120,000 grant to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, reports the Lake County News-Sun. The grant will be used to assess the health of Waukegan Harbor. In other news, the Erie Times-News reports that Pennsylvania State University was awarded a GLRI grant to stabilize streambanks.


The Chicago Tribune reports that activists are trying to prevent toxic materials dredged from Indiana Harbor and Canal in an East Chicago storage facility. The activists are urging U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky to oppose the proposed action by the Army Corps of Engineers.


Recent inspections show that the Line 5 pipeline running under the Straits of Mackinac have been bent and deformed in several locations, according to mLive. A spokesperson from Enbridge Energy, which owns and maintains the oil pipeline, says the deformities do not pose a safety risk, pointing to recent pressure testing showing the pipeline is secure. Meanwhile, Traverse City Record-Eagle reports that Michigan state officials held a meeting to receive public input on a recent report analyzing alternatives to Line 5. The Great Lakes advocacy organization FLOW has called the results of this report into question, reports WDET. FLOW says the report underestimates the risk of an oil spill from the pipeline, the impact such an accident would have on the lakes, and the amount it would cost to clean it up.


Hazardous blue green algae has begun appearing in western Lake Erie, according to the Buffalo News. The harmful algae bloom is the first in western Lake Erie this year, although more are expected to form throughout the summer.

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July 31st 2017

Controlling Invasive Species Restores Ecology in Winegar Pond

Winegar Pond is a 120-acre coastal wetland sitting within the Green Bay West Shores State Wildlife Area. The wetland provides crucial habitat for breeding and migrating waterfowl, as well as spawning grounds for several native species of fish. The wetland is naturally connected to both the Peshtigo River and Lake Michigan, allowing migrating fish to access these spawning grounds. Unfortunately, this positioning also makes Winegar Pond susceptible to spawning populations of invasive common carp, which are enticed by the pond’s warm water and shallow depths. Spawning carp greatly disturb this ecosystem by uprooting native vegetation. The loss of native plant communities degrades water quality, decreases the availability of native fish habitat, and allows invasive plants like phragmites to colonize the area, further displacing native plants and reducing migratory bird nesting success. Thanks to funding provided by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Ducks Unlimited has worked to stop the introduction of invasive species to restore habitat quality in Winegar Pond. Read more here.

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July 21st 2017

Washington Update: July 21, 2017

Senate committee requires Army Corps to release Brandon Road study within 30 days

The Senate Committee on Appropriations accepted an amendment offered by Great Lakes Senators Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) that would require the Army Corps of Engineers to release the Brandon Road Asian carp prevention study to the public within 30 days.  The amendment was made to the FY18 funding bill that funds Army Corps activities. Read the Amendment by Senator Baldwin and Senator Durbin.

In addition, the Senate committee included carp language in the report that accompanied the bill (see page 9). Other language in the report includes a reference on page 18 to studying hydrological separation in the Chicago waterway system.

The committee provided funding for Dispersal Barrier operations at $16.7 million (same as budget request) and GLMRIS/Brandon Road at $1.85 million (same as budget request).

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July 20th 2017

Washington Update: July 20, 2017

House panel passes FY18 Interior-EPA funding bill

Late Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee passed a bill funding the Department of the Interior and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for fiscal year 2018. Overall, the funding levels are 3 percent less that the $32.37 billion for the agencies in the current fiscal year, and 16 percent—or $4.3 billion—above what was included in the White House’s budget request.

As reported earlier, the bill contains funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and flat funds other important EPA programs (such as the Sec. 319 program and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund) while cutting some (like the Clean Water State Revolving Fund).

More >

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  • Washington Update: July 31, 2017

    Congress has turned its attention to fiscal year 2018 and appropriators are beginning to discuss bills in the House and the Senate. So far, many Great Lakes programs have received support, but overall budgets for key agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency are being cut. Read the latest here.

  • Tools for Great Lakes Advocates

      We need your help! Let Members of Congress know how important the Great Lakes are to you: for swimming, for fishing, for our drinking water, and for our way of life. Find tips and tools here for reaching out to Members of Congress and engaging in the conversation.

  • Our Latest Success Story

    Check out our latest success story: Restoring the natural curves and riverbank of the Pike River in Wisconsin has reduced flooding and erosion, while increasing fish and wildlife habitat. Read more here. Click here for a full list of our success stories.

  • 2017 Great Lakes Restoration Conference

    Registration for the 13th Annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference is now open! We will be in Buffalo, N.Y. October 17-19, 2017. Please visit our Great Lakes Restoration Conference website to register and see what workshops will be held at this year's conference. We hope to see you there!