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April 20th 2018

14th Annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference Request for Workshops and Field trips Now Open

The HOW Coalition’s annual Great Lakes Conference attracts more than 300 people from across the region to discuss cross-cutting and cutting edge Great Lakes issues. This year’s conference will be held at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit, Michigan, October 17-18, 2018.

The Coalition is looking for engaging and compelling proposals for both field trips and presentations at this year’s conference.

download the 2018 call for applications

download the 2018 field trip application

download the 2018 workshop application

  1. Field Trips: The Huron-Erie Corridor, including Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River, Western Lake Erie, and their tributaries


The Coalition is seeking fun, educational, inspiring and creative proposals for field trips in southeast Michigan to highlight restoration success stories, community projects, environmental challenges, and cultural landmarks.


  1. Workshops: Six Great Lakes Issue Areas


New this year! Multiple workshop formats. Apply for either:

  • 15 minute talk: A concise and compelling talk on one subject. Max one speaker, no powerpoint slides.
  • 60 minute workshop: Be creative with session format – host a presentation, workshop, training, input session, etc! Up to 3 speakers and one (optional) moderator.



The Coalition is seeking innovative, creative, engaging and compelling proposals for presentations in the below categories. Preferred applications in all categories will include diverse voices, particularly from underserved communities, communities of color, environmental justice groups, business groups, agricultural producers, anglers/hunters, and Tribes/First Nations. Expanded issue area descriptions are included in the full Request for Proposals (attached).


A) National/Tribal/Regional/State/Local Great Lakes Policy Issues

Examine cutting edge policy issues that impact people and the lakes. Presentation topics might include water policy, environmental justice, urban restoration, climate change, water infrastructure, invasive species and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

B) Innovative Great Lakes Restoration Success Stories

Share unique and successful restoration projects that showcase innovation and creativity. This category can also include projects that delve in to the economic benefit of restoration projects.

C) Addressing Environmental Injustices

Discuss environmental justice challenges and successes in your community. Topics may include public health, urban and rural environmental justice issues, drinking water accessibility and affordability, and climate change, among others.

D) Grassroots Action that makes a Difference

Share innovative and compelling stories and strategies used to help win local, state, regional or national Great Lakes victories.

E) Great Lakes Research and Emerging Issues

Explore cutting edge research on existing or emerging threats to the Great Lakes—and what solutions are needed.

F) Skills, Training, and Organizational Development

Provide important skills needed for advancing Great Lakes restoration and protection. Workshops in this category should provide technical assistance or capacity building to attendees.

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April 18th 2018

U.S. Senators Reject Attempt to Weaken Protections from Aquatic Invasive Species

A bad bill that would exempt ships from the Clean Water Act was defeated today. Photo credit: David Keith

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (April 18, 2018)—In a major victory for clean water, outdoor recreation, and local economies across the country, the U.S. Senate today rejected attempts to weaken Clean Water Act protections to prevent aquatic invasive species from entering U.S. waters through the discharge of ballast water.


The Senate rejected a motion to limit debate on the Coast Guard reauthorization bill that contained the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act—a bill that would exempt the shipping industry from the Clean Water Act and leave the nation’s rivers, lakes, and oceans vulnerable to aquatic invasive species. The vote was 56 to 42 with 60 votes needed to move forward.


Conservation groups, including Alliance for the Great Lakes, Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Law Foundation, Friends of the Earth, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Northwest Environmental Advocates said:


“This is a huge victory for the millions of people, communities, and businesses who want to put an end to the environmental and economic harm wrought by aquatic invasive species. We thank the members of the U.S. Senate who stood up for our clean water, fish and wildlife, outdoor recreation, and economy. The Clean Water Act offers the most effective defense against non-native invaders. We applaud U.S. Senators who recognized that instead of finding ways to exempt the shipping industry from cleaning up its act, it’s time to let the Clean Water Act do what it does best—and what it has done effectively for more than 40 years—protect U.S. waters that people depend on every day for their health, jobs, and way of life. We look forward to working with the U.S. Senate to pass a clean Coast Guard bill, while ensuring that we uphold the vision of the Clean Water Act to protect all of our nation’s iconic waters for people now and generations to come.”



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April 17th 2018

U.S. Senate Assault on Clean Water Act Will Leave Environment, Economy Vulnerable to Invasive Species


Exemption to shipping industry foists multi-million-dollar cost of ballast water invaders onto people, businesses, and communities.


People use the Great Lakes for swimming, boating, and wildlife watching. Our lakes would be threatened by the passage of the currently written Coast Guard Authorization Act. Credit: iStock photo.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 17, 2018)—The U.S. Senate is poised to vote as early as tomorrow on eliminating Clean Water Act protections that prevent aquatic invasive species from entering U.S. waters through the discharge of ballast water. Tucked into the Coast Guard authorization bill is the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act—a bill that exempts the shipping industry from complying with the Clean Water Act. The bill puts in place weaker, ineffective standards that will leave U.S. waters vulnerable to future aquatic invasive species that currently cost U.S. businesses, utilities, communities, and municipalities millions of dollars per year in damages and control costs.


Conservation groups are asking U.S. senators to oppose the Coast Guard bill unless the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act is removed.


Conservation groups oppose the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act because it:

  • Eliminates Clean Water Act protections over ship discharges including ballast water;
  • Establishes weaker, non-protective and ineffective ballast water standards;
  • Removes the U.S. EPA from its scientific role in deciding what standards are needed to protect U.S. rivers, lakes, and oceans from new invaders;
  • Prohibits states from putting in place more effective protections;
  • Abolishes the ability of citizens to take action to protect their waters from invasive species.

More >

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April 17th 2018

Senate to Vote on Bill Exempting Ships from Clean Water Act

A freighter in the Muskegon channel. Ships like this would be exempt from oversight from the Clean Water Act if a bill in the Senate is passed. Credit NOAA.

The U.S. Senate is prepared to vote on a bill that will allow more invasive species into the Great Lakes and other U.S. waters. The vote could come as early as tomorrow, April 18.

The dangerous bill in question is the Coast Guard Authorization Act. Attached to the bill is the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act, which exempts the shipping industry from complying with Clean Water Act standards that protect our waters. The Clean Water Act currently requires ships to treat their ballast water so that they don’t introduce biological pollution into U.S. waters. The Clean Water Act is the most effective tool to prevent more invasive species in the Great Lakes.


The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition opposes passage of the Coast Guard bill unless the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act is removed, and we’ve asked Great Lakes Senators to oppose the bill as written.

More >

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April 13th 2018

Action Alert: Tell Your Senator to Oppose Ballast Water Regulation Changes

Invasive species like zebra mussels are introduced from the ballast water of ships and have contributed to the breakdown of the Great Lakes food chain. Photo credit: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The Senate will vote on its Coast Guard bill next week, which currently includes the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA). This legislation significantly changes to how ballast water discharges are regulated nationwide, and would be bad for the Great Lakes.

Please call your Senators TODAY to urge them to oppose this bill if VIDA is included!


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


VIDA moves us away from the responsible management of ballast water discharges by completely removing Clean Water Act authority over ship discharges. Under VIDA, the Clean Water Act would cease to apply to all ship incidental discharges—including ballast water, nutrient-laden greywater, and chemicals—from commercial vessels. In addition, VIDA would:

  • transfer regulatory authority from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—the agency with water pollution expertise—to the Coast Guard, whose top priority is homeland security;
  • eliminate the Clean Water Act’s protection of water quality clean enough to protect public health, native species, and the use of waters for municipal and industrial purposes; and
  • remove the Clean Water Act’s function of driving the development of improvements in treatment technology.


In addition to undermining federal regulation of ballast water discharges, VIDA would also preempt states’ rights to protect their waters.

VIDA also creates special exceptions for vessels that operate exclusively the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway. It ignores clear scientific evidence that ships transfer and spread invasive species from one U.S. port to another by allowing the Coast Guard to wholly exempt such ships from any regulation.

Please call your Senators TODAY to urge them to oppose this bill if VIDA is included!

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

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  • 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 17 and 18. 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.