Time to implement Lakes cleanup
Editorial From the Indianapolis Star
Published in the Toronto Star July 16, 2005
A $20 billion (U.S.) proposal to clean up the Great Lakes
shows the magnitude of the cost of saving these invaluable
waterways. A task force led by the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency calls for the co-ordinated effort to
protect and restore the lakes.
Removing toxic hot spots, controlling invasive species,
eliminating sewage from antiquated sewer systems flowing
into the lakes and restoration of wetlands and buffer
areas around their shores will make other massive environmental
efforts pale by comparison in cost and scope.
During hearings leading up to a final report in December,
however, Indiana officials and citizens should strongly
support the effort, even though state and local governments
will have to foot nearly half of the costs.
This may be the state's best hope of securing more federal
help for fixing antiquated sewer systems that discharge
raw sewage into Lake Michigan, as well as obtaining federal
cleanup funds for removal of toxic sediments in the Grand
Calumet River and the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal —
an effort that could cost nearly $400 million.
From a broader perspective, it is an undertaking that
may be necessary to salvage one of the nation's — and
Indiana's — greatest natural resources.
President George Bush called for study because of concern
that there has been little coordination between federal
and state programs to clean up the lakes.
This Great Lakes Regional Collaboration draft report
warns that although much pollution in the lakes has been
halted and some cleanup efforts have been undertaken,
far more needs to be done to prevent further degradation
of the lakes.
"We have thrived on the richness the lakes have
brought us," the task force said, "but have
not protected them adequately to ensure that future generations
will be able to enjoy them as we have."
Also, invasive species such as zebra mussels continue
arriving in the Great Lakes at the rate of one species
every eight months, threatening all life in the lakes.
None of 31 toxic hot spots identified more than 15 years
ago has been cleaned up.
Funding the recommendations in this report is essential
to protecting the lakes.
As Dave Dempsey, Great Lakes policy adviser for the environmental
group Clean Water Action, told reporters, "You could
paper the walls of a large mansion with the Great Lakes
strategies that have been introduced over the years and
It's time to end the talk and clean up this precious
This is an edited version of an editorial that appeared
in the Indianapolis Star.