Budget Cut Threat: Toxic Contamination

Here’s a closer look at how federal investments are tackling serious threats in communities and why these important investments need to continue.

White Lake, Mich. was the site of a former tannery. To clean up the site, soil had to be excavated to remove leftover animal hides and other pollution. Photo: Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Office of the Great Lakes.

Threat: Toxic contamination such as PCB’s, mercury and heavy metals in Great Lakes harbors and rivers that are responsible for drinking water restrictions, beach closures, and fish consumption advisories.

What the federal government is doing: The federal government is partnering to clean up and legacy pollutants from the most polluted areas in the region—so-called Areas of Concern. Click here to see the programs that work together to prevent and control toxic pollution in the Great Lakes.

Ongoing Need: Cleaning up toxic contamination from the sand and mud of Great Lakes harbors is time-consuming and expensive. Out of the 43 U.S. Areas of Concern, only 4 have been delisted. More investment is needed in cities like Chicago, Milwaukee, Buffalo, and Duluth. The public is healthier if the fish they catch are free from toxins and tumors, if the beaches they swim at are safe, and the rivers and streams are clean. Cities can invest once again in their waterfronts as toxic sites are cleaned.

Impact of Budget Cuts: Clean-up of toxic hotspots comes to a halt, resulting in the loss of tourism and local economic investment in water front revitalization, loss of shipping due to dangerous dredging conditions, and a potential return to fish consumption advisories, drinking water restrictions, and beach closures. 16 projects planned across Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin would be put on hold, delaying restoration progress and jeopardizing more than $100 million in non-federal matching dollars.