Federal Great Lakes restoration efforts are working and should continue, Great Lakes supporters urged in a report released yesterday by Northland College’s Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation in Ashland, Wis. The paper stems from a meeting in late September with various Great Lakes stakeholders, including conservation organizations, state and federal government agencies, cities and tribes. More >
There are three updates from Washington which may be of interest. First, the Great Lakes Senators are circulating a Water Resources Development Act sign on letter to increase support. Second, the Government Accountability Office has released a water infrastructure report. And third, the State Department is meeting to discuss a global water strategy.
Great Lakes Senators circulate WRDA letter
Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) is asking Great Lakes Senators to sign onto a letter emphasizing support for key Great Lakes provisions in a final Water Resources Development Act. The letter includes references to upgrading water infrastructure, including Flint’s; supporting the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act; focusing on the Great Lakes Navigation System; and endorsing the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act. The letter can be read here. Currently, Sens. Kirk (R-Ill), Portman (R-Ohio), and Casey (D-Pa.) have signed on. Please take a moment to encourage your Senator’s to sign onto this letter. The deadline is tomorrow, Wednesday, October 19, so please send a note right away either via twitter (a list of handles can be found here) or by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. Offices can contact Jon Vanderplas with Sen. Kirk’s office to sign on.
Government Accountability Office releases water infrastructure report
The report looks at selected midsize and large cities in the United States that have declining populations and the threats posed by their outdated water infrastructure systems. Read the report here: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-16-785
The summary of the report reads “EPA estimates water and sewer utilities will need to spend $655 billion over the next 20 years to maintain, upgrade, or replace water infrastructure. Many midsize and large cities that lost a large percentage of their population are struggling to replace their pipes and treatment plants. Without improvements, these cities may be at serious risk of more frequent accidental sewage discharges and lead contamination among other things. Concerned that utility rates are increasingly unaffordable for low-income customers, some utilities are reducing water treatment capacity or decommissioning lines in vacant areas to fit current demands.”
State Department meeting to discuss Global Water Strategy
From the Federal Register: Global Water Strategy
On October 28, the U.S. State Department will hold a public meeting to discuss a global water strategy. The strategy will focus on clean drinking water, sanitation, water management, and cooperation.
The meeting will be held at the State Department offices in Washington, D.C. Comments on the shape of the strategy can be submitted by web survey or email: GWSRSVP@state.gov. Comments are due November 12. To attend the meeting, RSVP via the above email address.
Ann Arbor, Mich. (September 29, 2016). The U.S. House of Representatives wrapped up their pre-election session this week passing legislation supporting Great Lakes restoration in the Water Resources Development Act. Additionally, the House also followed the Senate in passing a continuing resolution to keep the government funded until December 9, which the President signed into law today. Congress has already left Washington and will not return until after the November elections.
The House version of the Water Resources Development Act (HR 5303) passed overwhelmingly yesterday by a vote of 399-25. Included in the bill was a provision authorizing the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for five years. The amendment, offered by Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio), was based on his bill, H.R. 223, which the House passed in April. The House approved the amendment 407-19. The Senate included a similar provision in its bill.
Also included in the House bill is an amendment offered by Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) authorizing emergency funding for Flint, Mich. The House voted 284-14 in favor of the amendment.
The bill made important improvements to the Army Corps of Engineers’ Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Restoration Program sponsored by both Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.) and Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.).
ANN ARBOR, MICH. (September 23, 2016) – At a presidential campaign forum yesterday, representatives from the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump campaigns said that they would support the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative if elected. The forum, hosted by the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, came on the last day of the organization’s twelfth annual Great Lakes restoration conference in Sandusky, Ohio.
Todd Ambs, campaign director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, said:
“We’re glad to see both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump support Great Lakes restoration and protection through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. More than 30 million people depend on the lakes for their drinking water, and it’s imperative that the next president make the restoration of the Great Lakes a national priority.”
The presentation of Trump campaign representative Mike Budzik, past chief, Ohio Division of Wildlife under Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, is available at https://www.facebook.com/healthylakes/videos/10154889608099796/
The presentation of Clinton campaign representative David Hayes, former deputy secretary, Department of Interior in the Obama Administration, is available at https://www.facebook.com/healthylakes/videos/10154889995564796/
We’re excited to be at Cedar Point – the roller coaster capital of the world – on the shores of Lake Erie in Sandusky, Ohio, as the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition hosts our annual conference. We’re excited about this year’s conference—our 12th—where attendees can enjoy interesting presentations, fun field trips, and exciting receptions and rides (!).
This year, we’re hosting a presidential candidate forum on the last day of the conference, Thursday, September 22—where both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump representatives will attend to lay out their Great Lakes platforms.
For those coming to Sandusky, we look forward to seeing you there.
If you cannot join us here, you can still follow the conference proceedings on Twitter @healthylakes, on our website (right where you are!), and – new this year – on Facebook Live, where we will be broadcasting the aforementioned candidate forum at 9 a.m. and 11:10 a.m. on Thursday, September 22. More >