federal budget includes Great Lakes funds
By Kenneth Patchen
The proposed $2.4 trillion federal budget contains $45
million to clean a few of the 31 polluted areas on the
Great Lakes -- including, possibly, Waukegan Harbor.
This proposed $35 million funding increase for the 2005
federal budget would be sufficient to clean up four to
six areas on the Great Lakes now polluted with PCBs, heavy
metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, according
to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency statement about
If Waukegan Harbor is selected to receive funds for its
hazardous cleanup, the positive impact on property values
is estimated to be about $53,000 per home in Waukegan
and $800 million total in Lake County, said U.S. Rep.
Mark S. Kirk, R-10th, of Highland Park, .
"That makes this project second only to O'Hare Airport
in ability to generate new Illinois jobs," said Kirk,
who supports efforts to restore the Great Lakes.
Kirk said a clean water harbor with recreation and redevelopment
value would increase the value of nearby property.
State Sen. Susan Garrett, D-29th, said it is important
to inform Washington legislative leaders about the continuing
need to support many restoration efforts on the lakes
related to beaches, bluffs, pollution and the water itself.
Kirk will sponsor hearings in May or June for increased
funding for block grants to states through the Great Lakes
Restoration Fund to focus more than $500 billion over
five years on problems in the Great Lakes ecosystem. The
lakes are the world's largest freshwater system but suffered
from more than 897 beach closing in 2002 and more than
1,500 advisories about eating fish caught in the lakes.
About 20 percent of the shoreline on all the Great Lakes
has polluted sediment. The lakes provide drinking water
for 28 million people.
Kirk has high expectations for the impact of funding
of a Waukegan Harbor cleanup.
"We can't make new lakefront harbors," he said.
On example of the economic impact of a clean harbor is
in Kenosha, Wis., he said. The city bought 70 waterfront
acres and precipitated a revitalization impact on the
harbor area. If Waukegan Harbor were to be decontaminated,
he said, the economic impact would exceed what occurred
at the north end of Fort Sheridan where rehabbed historic
homes have attracted high prices.
Since his first day in office, Kirk said, he has been
working for more funding for the Great Lakes Legacy Act.
Last year, on a flight with President George W. Bush on
Air Force One, he had an opportunity to discuss problems
in the Great Lakes and thinks that helped secure this
higher level of funding.
The proposed $45 million budget allocation is the result
of a bipartisan effort to address problems in the Great
Lakes region led by Kirk and 16 co-sponsors from Great