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June 19th 2018

Celebrating the 10-Year Anniversary of a Public Compact for the Great Lakes

by Todd Ambs

Ten years ago, then-Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle signed state legislation to implement the Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. Seven other Great Lakes states, two Canadian provinces, the U.S. Congress, and then-President George W. Bush all joined with Wisconsin and by the end of 2008 the Great Lakes Compact was a federal law.

The Compact (as it is commonly called), at its most fundamental level, is about how we sustainably manage the most significant surface freshwater resource on the planet—fresh water that more than 42 million people depend on for their drinking water in the United States and Canada. The glaciers had carved out our sense of place with a shovel so deep that you can see the Great Lakes from space, and yet we lacked a system to sustainably manage and protect that resource. More >

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June 1st 2018

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to Host Public Engagement Sessions On Great Lakes Restoration

Your input can help improve the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and how the projects, like the one above, are chosen. Photo courtesy of Ducks Unlimited.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced a series of public engagement meetings to be held throughout the summer across the region. These meetings are focused around gathering public feedback in developing the next iteration of the Great Lakes Regional Initiative Action Plan – Action Plan III. The Action Plan broadly guides how Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding is prioritized and spent. You can read the current Action Plan here.

We encourage anyone who has worked in any way with the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to participate in these meetings – whether as a recipient of a grant, partner on a project, or advocate for funding.

The first meeting is in two weeks, June 13th in Toledo, Ohio, followed by Rochester, N.Y. on June 21. See the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s press release here.

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May 23rd 2018

Washington Update: Farm Bill Stalled and Water Resources Funding Advances

Thanks to past Farm Bill funding, replanted riverbanks absorb pollution before it enters our waterways. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Water Resources Development Act Moves Forward

Today the House Transportation Committee will meet to mark up the latest version of the Water Resources Development Act. The text of the bill, H.R. 8 was released last Friday and can be read here. The bill, much smaller than the Senate bill released earlier in May, is focused only on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It makes small changes to a number of Corps programs.  The House bill does not include any Great Lakes-specific provisions, nor does it include wastewater, drinking water, or stormwater programs, like its Senate counterpart. More information about the bill can be found here on the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee’s website.

Farm Bill Stalls

On Friday the U.S. House narrowly voted down the latest version of the Farm Bill, 198-213. The Farm Bill is important in the Great Lakes region because it provides substantial conservation funding that help keep the ecosystem healthy, including the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. The bill failed for reasons unrelated to the content of the bill–members of the Freedom Caucus withheld their support until a separate vote was held on immigration–and so this version of Farm Bill is expected to come up for a vote again.

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May 15th 2018

Washington Update: Busy Week for the Great Lakes

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

This week is a busy week in the U.S. Congress, as the House and Senate will be taking up several important matters pertaining to Great Lakes restoration and protection. We’ll be following developments closely.


Solid Funding for Great Lakes Priorities; Damaging Policies

Today, Tuesday, May 15, at 5:30 p.m. Eastern, the U.S. House Appropriations Interior Subcommittee is discussing its fiscal year 2019 Interior and Environment Bill. The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition supports several elements of the bill:

  • It invests $300 million in the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to clean up toxic pollution, fight invasive species, restore habitat and wetlands, and reduce polluted runoff.
  • It invests $2.6 billion in the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, which provide low-interest loans to communities to fix, upgrade, and build water infrastructure.


The Coalition opposes harmful policy provisions in the bill, namely a provision that eliminates Clean Water Act protections that more than 117 million people – and 30 million people in the Great Lakes region – rely on to protect public drinking water.

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May 8th 2018

Rep. Bishop Introduces Resolution Designating Week of Memorial Day as ‘Great Lakes Week’

WASHINGTON – Congressman Mike Bishop (MI-08) today introduced a bipartisan resolution, H.Res. 868, designating the week of Memorial Day as “Great Lakes Week” to highlight the importance of the Great Lakes and promote conservation efforts that protect and preserve these natural resources.

Original cosponsors include: Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), John Moolenaar (R-Mich.), Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.), Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), David Joyce (R-Ohio), Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Rick Nolan (D-Minn.), Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.), and Chris Collins (R-N.Y.).

Congressman Mike Bishop said, “Memorial Day week is often the kick-off for folks in the Midwest to head to the lakes to explore miles of sandy beaches and bluffs, go boating, and enjoy the beauty of our Great Lakes. As a father and lifelong Michigander, I want my children to enjoy the great outdoors like I did growing up. We all know that ensuring the health of our lakes for future generations requires vigilance, and ‘Great Lakes Week’ is an opportunity to celebrate our lakes and promote responsible conservation with friends and family members to protect our treasured natural resources.”

“What better time to enjoy the Great Lakes than Memorial Day week!” said Robert Lambe, executive secretary of the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Fishery Commission. “The Great Lakes have a lot to offer, from natural beauty to exciting water activities and, of course, world-class fishing. This resolution inspires us to celebrate the lakes and moves us to work hard to protect and improve them for today and for future generations.”

“We happily support the work that the U.S. Congressional delegation continues to do to elevate Great Lakes protection and restoration as a national priority,” said Todd Ambs, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “Federal restoration investments are producing results, but serious threats remain. We look forward to working with Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate to support robust funding and strong policy solutions that protect our Great Lakes and the millions of people who depend on them for their drinking water, jobs, and way of life.”

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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.