Congressmen look to restore lakes
Illinois Pioneer Press
U.S. representatives Rahm Emanuel, D-5th, and Mark Kirk,
R-10th, were joined by Lake Michigan Federation President
Cameron Davis and representative from Chicago Mayor Richard
Daley's office last week in announcing the Great Lakes
Restoration Fund, a bipartisan bill that will establish
a fund for Great Lakes revitalization.
In 2002, there were a record 897 beach closings on Lake
Michigan alone, Emanuel noted.
The Great Lakes and their connecting channels form the
largest freshwater system on Earth. Thirty years after
passage of the U.S. Clean Water Act, Great Lakes water
quality has improved, but the lakes remain unhealthy for
wildlife and people, and there is clear and convincing
evidence that the ecosystem is deteriorating, Emanuel
In the mid-1990s, the Everglades, the source of freshwater
for much of Florida, faced a threat similar to the one
the Great Lakes face now. Congress responded with the
creation of a $8 billion restoration effort. Building
on that model, Congress must now act to restore the largest
fresh water ecosystem on earth and the source of drinking
water for 28 million people, Emanuel said.
The Great Lakes Restoration Fund would establish a funding
source through block grants for the lakes' restoration
Specifically, Emanuel said, the fund would: ensure the
economic and ecological sustainability of the lakes; clean
up toxic hot spots; combat invasive species; control pollution
from urban and agricultural runoff; restore and conserve
wetlands and critical coastal habitat; increase public
education of Great Lakes issues.