In the spending plan announced by the White House last week, President
Barack Obama proposed $475 million to begin a Great Lakes Restoration
Initiative. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, led by the Environmental
Protection Agency, would spend the money on a wide range of issues, including
invasive species, industrial and agricultural runoff, and contaminated sediments
in rivers and lakes.
During the campaign, Obama pledged $5 billion for the project. The $475
million is seen as a down payment toward the Great Lakes’ protection and
restoration pledge. The budget also includes $3.9 billion to help state and
local governments upgrade their sewage and drinking water systems, about $1.4
billion of which would go to Great Lakes states.
Upgrading both wastewater and stormwater systems is immensely important to
the water quality from those combined systems. Frequent overflow after major
storms causes the release of millions of gallons of untreated sewage into rivers
and streams throughout the Great Lakes region. Restoring the lakes as one
integrated watershed is fundamental to the plan.
Formulas for the new budget are still in the works, and the battle for
congressional approval will be difficult. I will keep you posted here as the
story develops with more information available at StormCon 2009.