The federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has been a shot in the arm for restoration efforts in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The U.S. Congress has invested $775 million through the initiative in the last two budget cycles to clean up toxic pollution, restore habitat, reduce polluted run-off, and combat invasive species. The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition fully supports the program—though would like to see some modifications to make a good program even better.
To that end, the coalition today sent a letter to EPA’s Cameron Davis, senior advisor to the administrator, and Susan Hedman, regional administrator for EPA Region 5. The letter offers recommendations on how to improve the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Among them:
- Budget $475 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in the 2013 budget;
- Invest in research and monitoring to help prioritize projects in most-needed areas; and,
- Target funds based on a watershed management approach to achieve broader ecosystem health.
You can read the full letter here.
Bottom line: The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is the most effective federal program to restore the Great Lakes and protect the drinking water, public health and way of life for millions of people. Great Lakes activities are producing results in communities across the region—though there is more work to do. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is a strong program that, with a few tweaks, can be even stronger.