Great Lakes' water quality remains a challenge
Gannett News Service
Posted on Fond du Lac Reporter on January 23, 2008
WASHINGTON - Despite progress in cleaning up the five Great Lakes, a top congressional lawmaker said water quality "is still at risk."
Rep. James Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said his panel will work to toughen standards this year to help reduce pollutants in the lakes. The committee also will consider legislation to authorize more money for state and federal programs to protect the U.S. side of the lakes.
Oberstar made his comments Wednesday at a Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee hearing on the state of lakes Erie, Huron, Michigan, Ontario and Superior.
A witness from the Government Accountability Office said U.S. efforts have yielded mixed results in controlling industrial pollution, wastewater discharges, agricultural runoff, invasive species or tackling contaminated sediments in the harbors along the lakes.
In particular, the EPA is still struggling to develop the technology to measure concentrations of seven pollutants that pose risks to fish and other species as well as humans and wildlife that eat them.
Subcommittee member Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Appleton, said more needs to be done to meet water quality goals of the Great Lakes Initiative issued in 1995 by the Environmental Protection Agency.
He said people in the Fox River area will get a chance to testify about the Great Lakes at a committee field hearing now scheduled in Green Bay in April.
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