Congress Approves $300 Million for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

Dec 19, 2011 Issues: Environment

Meets funding level requested by Reps. Levin, Dingell

Congress has approved $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative as part of the final spending package that cleared the House of Representatives and Senate late last week and is expected to be signed into law by President Obama. The funding level – equal to the amount provided in 2011 – met the request spearheaded by Michigan lawmakers Sander Levin and John Dingell to not cut funding for the program in 2012.

“Michigan has a huge stake in the success of this effort to protect the Great Lakes and it is vital that we continue to provide strong support through sustained levels of funding,” said Rep. Levin.

Now entering its third year, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) is the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades.  The program provides critical funding to programs that clean up contaminated sediments, improve water quality, combat invasive species, protect watersheds from polluted run-off, and restore wetlands and other valuable habitats in the Great Lakes.  The GLRI is supporting implementation of a comprehensive, bipartisan restoration strategy that is broadly endorsed by the Great Lakes states, cities, tribes, conservation groups, and business and industry.

The GLRI is also emerging as an important source of funding for restoration of Lake St. Clair.  In late August, the Environmental Protection Agency announced four Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants totaling $2.2 million to organizations, agencies, and universities working in the Detroit area, including two projects to improve water quality and reduce storm water runoff into Lake St. Clair.

The program has been a priority for Michigan Representatives Sander Levin and John Dingell.  In November, Levin and Dingell led a push for sustained funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative as the funding bill for the Environmental Protection Agency was finalized.  Their letter to the House Appropriations Committee received key bipartisan backing from two of the Co-Chairs of the Great Lakes Task Force in the House of Representatives, Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Representative Sean Duffy (R-WI).  Michigan Representatives Conyers, Kildee, Peters and Clarke also co-signed the letter. 

On a related matter, Congress provided a total of $1.4 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program for 2012.  Michigan’s Clean Water Revolving Fund will receive roughly $61.6 million on this money.  The state revolving funds – which receive most of their capitalization funds through annual appropriations from Congress – provide extremely low-cost financing for local water infrastructure projects.  As of October 1, 2011, the Michigan Revolving Fund has provided low interest loans for 433 projects, totaling $3.7 billion.