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Great Lakes Article:

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 pointed out.

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 and revitalization.

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.

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