Healthy Lakes Healthy Lives

Subscribe Now

Support the restoration of the Great lakes ecosystem. Submit your email address to receive newsletters, articles & action alerts.


March 21st 2018

Senator Gillibrand to Introduce Bill on Water Infrastructure Grant Funding

Clean drinking water benefits all of us. Photo from iStock Photo.

Senator Kristin Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) plans to introduce a bill to help communities around the Great Lakes region, and the country, fix their crumbling water infrastructure. The pipes and buildings that make up our water infrastructure system are aging. In the Great Lakes region, and around the country, funding for water infrastructure is inadequate to keep up with needs. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that in the Great Lakes region alone more than $179 billion is needed over 20 years to repair and replace our wastewater and drinking water infrastructure. Currently, the Federal Government helps communities pay for expensive, but urgently needed water infrastructure projects using the Clean Water or Drinking Water State Revolving Funds. These funds provide low-interest loans for projects, but for certain communities even these low-interest loans are unaffordable.

Senator Gillibrand plans to introduce a bill that would provide grants to communities–not just loans–to address costly wastewater and drinking water infrastructure projects. We will be watching as more details become available, as affordability is key to infrastructure investments. An article in the New York shares more details about the bill here.

No comment
March 19th 2018

Washington Update: Fiscal Year 2018 Discussions Continue, Farm Bill Slowed

The Federal Government plays an important role in working with the states to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Photo credit: David Keith

House Republican leaders had wanted to pass a final FY2018 funding bill last Friday but acknowledged that they’re behind schedule, ditching the plans to release the $1.3 trillion spending bill last week.  The delay sets up a crazy floor schedule this week in both the House and Senate as both chambers try to enact federal funding by the March 23 deadline.

Instead of Friday, March 16, a spending package is now likely to be unveiled early next week. Despite the delay, lawmakers and aides say they’re refusing to consider a sixth short-term funding patch in case Congress were to blow past the March 23 deadline.

What’s the holdup? There still remains a long list:

— Nearly $1 billion in funding for the Gateway project in New York City, which President Donald Trump has threatened to veto.
— Deportation relief for DREAMers and funding for Trump’s proposed border wall
— The “Mexico City” policy, aka a prohibition on U.S. funding for international groups that provide abortion services, and funding for Planned Parenthood.
— Obamacare stabilization funds, also known as cost-sharing subsidies or CSRs.
— A tax provision that would allow churches and nonprofits to participate in political campaigns.

Rumors are that these contentious pieces of the bill have been dropped.  Other controversial riders could also be left out of the final bill. However, in their place could be new riders not previously seen impacting public lands in Alaska and Minnesota (PolyMet land exchange), etc.

Farm Bill

The Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee said yesterday that the 2018 Farm Bill won’t be marked up on March 20 as originally planned.  The Committee is still trying to work out an agreement on controversial changes to the food stamp program. Ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) has said that Democrats could not support the Farm Bill in its current form because it imposes stricter work requirements on some 8 million recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The delay means that the next chance for a markup won’t come until after Congress returns from a two-week recess on April 10.

No comment
March 9th 2018

Action Alert: Increasing Funding for Water Infrastructure

Clean drinking water benefits all of us. Urge your Member of Congress to support State Revolving Funds by signing on to this letter. Photo from iStock Photo.

There is another letter circulating in the house for congressional sign ons – this letter supports an increase in funding for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving funds to fund investments in clean and safe water infrastructure. The letter is to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies and specifically asks to double the amount for the two state revolving funds from the fiscal year 2017 amounts to a total of $2.8 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and $1.8 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund in fiscal year 2019, which is in line with the Coalition ask for this year; we are hoping to push the Great Lakes Members to join this letter. The turnaround on this letter is very short – the deadline is this Monday, March 12, so please take some time this week to encourage your Representatives to sign on to this important letter.


You may contact your Member of Congress via the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) originated the dear colleague letter, and the following members have already signed on: Reps. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Daniel W. Lipinski (D-Ill.), Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), Andre Carson (D-Ind.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Julia Brownley (D-Calif.), Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.), Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-Northern Mariana Islands), Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii), Peter Welch (D-Vt.),  Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.),  Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), and Al Green (D-Texas)


Offices should contact Jennifer Wood in Congressman Katko’s office at or Clayton Cox in Congresswoman Slaughter’s office at to sign on or with any questions. The dear colleague letter is attached.


The deadline to sign on is Monday, March 12 at the close of business.

No comment
March 8th 2018

Action Alert: Urge House Members to Support Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at $300 Million

Rep. David Joyce on a tour of Ashtabula River cleanup thanks to Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding. Photo courtesy of the Ohio Environmental Council.

U.S. Reps. David Joyce (R-Ohio) and Sander Levin (D-Mich.) are currently circulating a Dear Colleague letter in support of a letter to Chairman Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) and Ranking Member Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) urging them to continue to provide $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in the Fiscal Year 2019 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill. We encourage Coalition members and partners to call  or tweet your Representatives and urge them to sign on to this letter! The letter closes March 13, at noon.

You may contact your Member of Congress via the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

The following Representatives have already signed on to add their support to Rep. Levin and Rep. Joyce’s letter: Tim Walz (D-Minn.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Rick Nolan (D-Minn.), Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), Bill Foster (D-Ill.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), Darin LaHood (R-Ill.), Andre Carson (D-Ind.), Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), Jack Bergman (R-Mich.), Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.), Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Dave Trott (R-Mich.), Mike Bishop (R-Mich.), Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.), Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), Mike Turner (R-Ohio), Bob Latta (R-Ohio), Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.), Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), Michael Doyle (D-Pa.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), John Katko (R-N.Y.), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.), Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.), Donald Payne (D-NJ), A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.), and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.)

More >

Comments Off on Action Alert: Urge House Members to Support Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at $300 Million
March 6th 2018

A Big Week for the Great Lakes: Water Infrastructure and Equity Report Released, Great Lakes Day

On the Detroit waterfront, people take advantage of the fountain to play. Keeping our drinking water safe and affordable also benefits cities economically, drawing people to town. Photo: Donna Kert

U.S. Water Alliance to Release Report: Great Lakes Infrastructure, Equity and Water Affordability

On Tuesday, March 6, the U.S. Water Alliance is releasing a new report that examines inequity issues around the infrastructure needs in the Great Lakes region. The region faces a staggering $179 billion need to fix, repair and modernize the drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. The new report focuses on the deteriorating state of infrastructure in Great Lakes communities, the increasing lack of affordability of water rates for low-income communities, and opportunities to make water access and service more equitable for all Great Lakes residents.

The U.S. Water Alliance will host a briefing on Tuesday, March 6, 11 a.m. Eastern

1-888-392-4560, participant code 9902003

RSVP or questions:

Read more about the Healing Our Waters – Great Lakes Coalition’s Water Infrastructure concerns and priorities ahead of today’s briefing here.

Great Lakes Advocates to Visit D.C. to Urge Congress to Keep Restoration Efforts on Track

On Wednesday, March 7-8, more than 100 Great Lakes advocates will be in Washington, D.C., as part of Great Lakes Days, the annual event hosted by the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition and the Great Lakes Commission. In light of recent proposed budget cuts by the Trump Administration, advocates will be asking federal public officials to support a robust federal agenda, including:

  1. Supporting $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
  2. Defending core capacity and funding at federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency
  3. Doubling current funding for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure
  4. Supporting Farm Bill conservation programs
  5. Supporting policies that protect the Great Lakes from invasive species

Read more about our policy priorities here.

Comments Off on A Big Week for the Great Lakes: Water Infrastructure and Equity Report Released, Great Lakes Day
  • Impact of President Trump’s Budget

    Cuts to key Great Lakes programs as proposed by President Trump will undermine the progress we've been making to restore the lakes. We will look to our congressional champions to restore funding. Learn more about what's at stake for the Great Lakes under the proposed budget. Click here.  

  • 2018 Great Lakes Restoration Conference

    Our 2018 Great Lakes Restoration Conference will be in Detroit, Mich, October 16 and 17. We will begin seeking proposals for conference presentations in April. As more information becomes available, it will be posted here and shared on our listserv.

  • Washington Update: March 19, 2018

    Congress is still working on passing a budget for fiscal year 2018. But the budget process for fiscal year 2019 has now begun with the release of President Trump's proposed budget. Read the latest here.

  • 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.