The Obama Administration recently released its five-year plan to guide federal efforts to restore the Great Lakes—which supplies drinking water to more than 30 million people.
The plan sets priorities for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a federal program which, over the last five years, has invested more than $1.6 billion to tackle some of the most vexing problems facing the Lakes: runoff that causes harmful algal blooms that kill fish, harm outdoor recreation, and threaten drinking water supplies; toxic pollution that threatens the health of people and wildlife; invasive species that harm native fish and wildlife populations; and habitat loss that hurts fish and wildlife and outdoor recreation opportunities.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan II, as it is known, will set priorities from 2015-2019.
Securing a strong action plan has been a priority of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, which submitted comments in July 2013 when the EPA was crafting the plan. The Coalition will be reviewing the recently released Action Plan II and submit comments.
Reacting to the release of the plan on Friday, Coalition Director Todd Ambs said:
“The first five years of federal Great Lakes restoration efforts have produced results for people, communities, and businesses—and we look forward to building on that success for the next five years. The new Great Lakes Action Plan sets the stage to make a strong program even better, includes important mechanisms to clearly measure the success of these investments and takes steps to ensure that restoration efforts help the region adapt to climate change. We look forward to working with Congress and the Obama Administration to make sure that the nation maintains its investment in restoration programs. Cutting funds will only make projects harder and more expensive the longer we wait.”
The draft builds from the first Action Plan, covering 2010-2014. The EPA has chronicled the results from the first stage of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative here.