Budget Could Bring a Flow of Funding for the Great Lakes
As some of you already know, Congress is busy this week working on a budget resolution for the coming year. Fortunately, the resolution they’re discussing includes important investments in conserving our natural resources and reducing global warming.
And among these great opportunities, I’d also like to highlight one reason in particular to pass this resolution: important new investments in conserving the Great Lakes.
In a draft outline of his budget, President Obama specifically allocated $475 million for the Environmental Protection Agency to conserve these bodies of water — the largest amount of money ever requested by a President for the Great Lakes.
It’s no wonder why. This American treasure faces among other minor threats, a “triple threat” of contaminated sediment, invasive species and sewage contamination.
I always assumed the Lakes were large enough to withstand numerous pressures, but through reading about the Great Lakes for NWF, I’ve learned that many scientists believe that a combination of pressures are rapidly moving the Lakes towards a condition of irreversible harm.
The Lakes are not only the primary source of drinking water for more than one in ten Americans, but they are also the largest freshwater ecosystem on the planet, making them an invaluable natural resource.
Conservation efforts in the budget resolution can tackle these problems:
- Contaminated Sediment—polluting water and endangering wildlife for decades: The Great Lakes suffer from an industrial legacy that has left behind 31 EPA-identified contaminated sediment areas. Toxins in these sediments wreak havoc on the lakes–poisoning wildlife, polluting water and destroying habitat.
- Aquatic invasive species—causing trouble and costing millions: Invasive species might seem like a small threat, but Great Lakes residents annually spend more than $200 million to repair damages and control these pests. Invasives overwhelm native wildlife and wreak havoc on infrastructure; the infamous zebra mussel clogs water intake pipes at an exponential rate as each female produces one million eggs per year.
- Sewage Contamination—yuck! Antiquated wastewater systems are a major pollutant source, spilling at least 23 billion gallons of sewage into the lakes every year.
Whether you live in the region or not, it’s easy to see why protecting the Great Lakes – and getting this budget passed — is critical for all Americans. Please take the time to protect this incredible resource!