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LATEST NEWS

July 31st 2017

Weekly News Roundup: Toxic Dredged Materials, Line 5 Safety, and More

In case you missed them, here were some of the Great Lakes restoration stories that made news last week:

 

mLive reports that a bipartisan group of Michigan lawmakers are urging the U.S. Department of Commerce to maintain the size of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Huron. This follows President Trump’s executive order to review protected ocean and aquatic areas for potential offshore oil and gas drilling. Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is pushing for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to release a long-awaited study examining the potential environmental effects of measures recommended to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes, reports the Detroit News. And an editorial in the Watertown Daily News praised congressional lawmakers who voted to fully fund the GLRI, following the Trump Administration’s proposed elimination of the program.

 

The U.S. EPA awarded a $120,000 grant to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, reports the Lake County News-Sun. The grant will be used to assess the health of Waukegan Harbor. In other news, the Erie Times-News reports that Pennsylvania State University was awarded a GLRI grant to stabilize streambanks.

 

The Chicago Tribune reports that activists are trying to prevent toxic materials dredged from Indiana Harbor and Canal in an East Chicago storage facility. The activists are urging U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky to oppose the proposed action by the Army Corps of Engineers.

 

Recent inspections show that the Line 5 pipeline running under the Straits of Mackinac have been bent and deformed in several locations, according to mLive. A spokesperson from Enbridge Energy, which owns and maintains the oil pipeline, says the deformities do not pose a safety risk, pointing to recent pressure testing showing the pipeline is secure. Meanwhile, Traverse City Record-Eagle reports that Michigan state officials held a meeting to receive public input on a recent report analyzing alternatives to Line 5. The Great Lakes advocacy organization FLOW has called the results of this report into question, reports WDET. FLOW says the report underestimates the risk of an oil spill from the pipeline, the impact such an accident would have on the lakes, and the amount it would cost to clean it up.

 

Hazardous blue green algae has begun appearing in western Lake Erie, according to the Buffalo News. The harmful algae bloom is the first in western Lake Erie this year, although more are expected to form throughout the summer.

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July 31st 2017

Controlling Invasive Species Restores Ecology in Winegar Pond

Winegar Pond is a 120-acre coastal wetland sitting within the Green Bay West Shores State Wildlife Area. The wetland provides crucial habitat for breeding and migrating waterfowl, as well as spawning grounds for several native species of fish. The wetland is naturally connected to both the Peshtigo River and Lake Michigan, allowing migrating fish to access these spawning grounds. Unfortunately, this positioning also makes Winegar Pond susceptible to spawning populations of invasive common carp, which are enticed by the pond’s warm water and shallow depths. Spawning carp greatly disturb this ecosystem by uprooting native vegetation. The loss of native plant communities degrades water quality, decreases the availability of native fish habitat, and allows invasive plants like phragmites to colonize the area, further displacing native plants and reducing migratory bird nesting success. Thanks to funding provided by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Ducks Unlimited has worked to stop the introduction of invasive species to restore habitat quality in Winegar Pond. Read more here.

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July 21st 2017

Washington Update: July 21, 2017

Senate committee requires Army Corps to release Brandon Road study within 30 days

The Senate Committee on Appropriations accepted an amendment offered by Great Lakes Senators Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) that would require the Army Corps of Engineers to release the Brandon Road Asian carp prevention study to the public within 30 days.  The amendment was made to the FY18 funding bill that funds Army Corps activities. Read the Amendment by Senator Baldwin and Senator Durbin.

In addition, the Senate committee included carp language in the report that accompanied the bill (see page 9). Other language in the report includes a reference on page 18 to studying hydrological separation in the Chicago waterway system.

The committee provided funding for Dispersal Barrier operations at $16.7 million (same as budget request) and GLMRIS/Brandon Road at $1.85 million (same as budget request).

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July 20th 2017

Washington Update: July 20, 2017

House panel passes FY18 Interior-EPA funding bill

Late Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee passed a bill funding the Department of the Interior and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for fiscal year 2018. Overall, the funding levels are 3 percent less that the $32.37 billion for the agencies in the current fiscal year, and 16 percent—or $4.3 billion—above what was included in the White House’s budget request.

As reported earlier, the bill contains funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and flat funds other important EPA programs (such as the Sec. 319 program and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund) while cutting some (like the Clean Water State Revolving Fund).

More >

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July 19th 2017

Washington Update: July 18

The House Committee on Appropriations is expected to debate the FY18 funding bill for the Department of the Interior, EPA, and other agencies later on Tuesday.  The bill funds key Great Lakes priorities, including:

  • Great Lakes Restoration Initiative: $300 million (same as FY2017 enacted, $300 million more than President’s request)
  • Clean Water State Revolving Fund: $1.144 billion ($250 million less than FY2017 enacted, $250 million less than President’s request)
  • Drinking Water State Revolving Fund: $863 million (same as FY2017 enacted, same as President’s request)
  • $460,000 for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration program
  • $10.4 million for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Asian carp prevention work in the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers and Great Lakes ($2 million more than FY2017 enacted)

More >

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  • Great Lakes Day 2018

      We're excited to announce Great Lakes Day 2018! This year we will be in Washington, D.C. March 7 and 8 asking Congress to prioritize Great Lakes restoration funding to protect our drinking water; fish and wildlife habitat; and our way of life. Learn more about how you can get involved by visiting GreatLakesDay.HealthyLakes.org

  • Washington Update: January 16, 2017

    Congress is still working on passing a budget for fiscal year 2018. So far, many Great Lakes programs have received support, but overall budgets for key agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency are being cut and final budget numbers have not been agreed upon. 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.

  • 2018 Great Lakes Restoration Conference

    Our 14th Annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference will be in Detroit, Mich. in October 2018! Please visit our Great Lakes Restoration Conference website starting in April of 2018 to learn more about the event. We hope to see you there!  

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