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Senate Passes Landmark Bill to Protect Lake Erie

Ohio Environmental Council, September 15, 2016

Today, the U.S. Senate passed the federal Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The bill contained three vital pieces of legislation to the Great Lakes, specifically Lake Erie. In response to its passage, the Ohio Environmental Council issued the following statement by Kristy Meyer, Director of Natural Resources.
“Today is a good day for the Great Lakes. Amidst all the partisan grid-lock in Congress, Republicans and Democrats came together for something we all believe in – a healthy Lake Erie.  This landmark bill will help ensure children have clean drinking water and our families have a place to swim and fish.”
The bill includes important language that:
  • Creates a harmful algal bloom coordinator within the U.S. EPA. Currently there is not a point person at the federal level whose full-time job is to make sure the toxic algae crisis is solved. This bill changes that. 
  • Solidified the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) as a program, backed by $300 million in funding. For every dollar spent restoring our Great Lakes, local economies reap $2-$10 in return. 
  • Requires the Army Corps of Engineers to adhere to state water quality standards, which means the Army Corps can no longer dispose of sediments into Lake Erie dredged from river mouths and harbors without the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency stating it will not lower water quality. 
The House passed a different version of WRDA earlier this summer. Both bills will now go to conference committee to be reconciled most likely sometime after the election.
Brookings Institute: Healthy Waters, Strong Economy: The Benefits of the Great Lakes
Great Lakes Commission and West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission