Wednesday, December 14, 2005

GOVERNMENT: Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy now available; next federal actions outlined

The Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2002 authorizes $270 million in funding over five years for cleanups of contaminated hot spots at 31 areas of concern in the United States. In 2004, the first year funds were available, Congress appropriated $9.9 million. In 2005, Congress appropriated $22.3 million, and $30 million will be available in 2006. President Bush requested $50 million in 2006.

Last week, EPA announced the approval of a $50 million Legacy Act cleanup of the Ashtabula River in Ohio, a tributary to Lake Erie. Cleanups of Black Lagoon, an inlet of the Detroit River in Trenton, Mich., and Newton Creek/Hog Island Inlet in Superior, Wis., were completed last month. Another project is under way at Ruddiman Creek in Muskegon, Mich. More projects will be announced in the coming months.

Additional projects to restore wetlands and aquatic habitat will include streamlining the wetlands permit process specifically for restoration and water quality projects in the Great Lakes basin resulting in the restoration of another 200,000 acres. Healthy wetlands support biological diversity, help maintain valuable economic resources like fisheries, provide flood control and filter pollution.

Funds are also available to increase beach monitoring and notification programs in lakeside communities. A three-year, three-step effort to perform watershed-based sanitary surveys in Great Lakes recreational waters to help identify sources of pollution has been proposed. Surveys will be done in 2006 and the first pilot projects should begin in the Great Lakes basin in 2007.

Yeah, baby, there's lot's of money coming our way. A copy of the Strategy is now available at

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