ANN ARBOR, MICH. (February 15, 2018)—The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition today urged the U.S. Congress to reject the Trump Administration’s budget and infrastructure plan as insufficient to restore and protect the Great Lakes and to meet the needs of the 30 million people who depend on the lakes for their drinking water, jobs, and way of life.
“We’re counting on Congress to keep federal Great Lakes restoration efforts on track and to put forward a robustly funded, bipartisan infrastructure package that provides financial relief to local communities and ensures that every person has access to clean, safe and affordable drinking water,” said Todd Ambs, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “Cutting funding now will only delay projects, making them more complicated and more expensive to complete.”
The Trump Administration’s proposed budget contains steep cuts to core Great Lakes programs. The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition is asking congress to restore Great Lakes funding and support a federal legislative agenda that includes:
- funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the marquee program to restore the lakes;
- funding to fix the region’s old, crumbling drinking water and wastewater infrastructure;
- support of policies and funding that block Asian carp and other invasive species into U.S. waters;
- funding for farm conservation programs in the Farm Bill;
- defense of Clean Water Act and other environmental protections; and,
- funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies that are instrumental in carrying out restoration work.
“Each of these priorities is vital to the restoration and protection of our Great Lakes and the health of our environment and economy,” said Chad Lord, policy director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “The Great Lakes congressional delegation has been instrumental in making Great Lakes restoration a national priority. Federal investments are producing results. And it will be vital for our federal public officials to support all of these actions to ensure that we maintain progress.”
The Coalition is also asking for the U.S. Congress to work to craft a bipartisan infrastructure package that provides more financial support for local communities—rather than the Trump Administration’s plan that puts the overwhelming burden of funding infrastructure on local governments.
Over the last 40 years, local communities have picked up the lion’s share of the costs to maintain their water infrastructure—while the investment by the federal government has fallen precipitously. In 1977 the federal government contributed 63 percent of water infrastructure investment. Now they contribute 9 percent. As local communities have taken on more of the responsibility, water rates have skyrocketed. From 2010-2017, water rates went up 41 percent.
Said Coalition Campaign Director Ambs: “The millions of people who call the Great Lakes region home deserve an infrastructure plan that acknowledges the hard work local communities have been doing over the past 40 years—and rewards that with federal resources that are commensurate to the crisis we’re facing, so that we can tackle these problems and, at the end of the day, provide every person with affordable, safe, drinking water.”
The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of more than 150 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes. For more information visit http://www.healthylakes.org Follow us on twitter @healthylakes.