Protecting Lake St. Clair

Issues: Environment

Lake St. Clair is an irreplaceable natural resource that provides drinking water, fishing and recreation to millions every year.   I am working to protect and restore Lake St. Clair and its watershed.

Over the last 15 years, a great deal of progress has been to address longstanding environmental damage to Lake St. Clair.  Significant financial resources have been deployed to upgrade sewer infrastructure to correct the chronic problem of combined sewer overflows into the Lake.  Illicit drain connections that dump raw sewage into rivers and streams feeding into Lake St. Clair are being tracked down and repaired.  

A key federal program called the Clean Water Revolving Fund Program has provided localities with hundreds of millions of dollars in low-cost loans to improve the watershed’s water infrastructure that keeps sewage from spilling into the Lake.   As a direct result of these and other efforts, the number of beach closings on Lake St. Clair has dramatically declined.

We need to build on these efforts.  In early 2009, Congress approved an Economic Recovery package that included funding to assist states and localities build and repair water infrastructure.  Michigan’s share totaled $168 million, including $8.4 million to correct longstanding sanitary sewer overflow problems affecting the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair.  Further, at the urging of Senator Carl Levin and myself, the Corps of Engineers agreed to provide an additional $3.8 million in Recovery Act funds to reduce pollution and sedimentation in the Red Run Drain.  This means cleaner water in the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair.

In 1999, Congress directed the Corps of Engineers to create a comprehensive management plan for Lake St. Clair.  The plan was completed in 2005 and contains more than 100 recommendations to protect and restore Lake St. Clair.  These recommendations will help shape Lake St. Clair’s future, but only if they are carried out.  At my request, Congress approved funding to begin to implement the Lake St. Clair management plan, and in 2013 the Army Corps of Engineers gave final approval to a Strategic Implementation Plan to restore Lake St. Clair of specific restoration initiatives.   This will be an ongoing effort in the years ahead.

(Updated April 16, 2012)