Mayors to discuss federal mandates
at Great Lakes conference
The Associated Press
Published July 10th, 2004
DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — Many Upper Midwest cities are feeling
the financial pinch of federal requirements to clean up
the Great Lakes but that don't come with additional federal
money to pay for the clean-up, said Mayor Herb Bergson.
That squeeze will be on the minds of Bergson and other
mayors next week in Chicago at the annual meeting of the
International Association of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence
Mayors. The conference includes mayors from U.S. and Canadian
"Right now, they have many of the same problems
that we do," Bergson said.
Cities such as Chicago, Milwaukee, Green Bay and Marquette,
Mich., face sewer overflow problems similar to Duluth's
but, like Duluth, don't have the resources to fix them,
In the past, federal money was available, but now the
mandates that overflows be stopped aren't coming with
financing, he said. "It's unfunded right now, and
it really creates a quandary for all of us," Bergson
Also high on the mayors' list is the hope that Congress
will reauthorize money for studying and stopping the spread
of invasive species such as the zebra mussel and the spiny
water flea, and exotic fish such as the round goby, Eurasian
ruffe and Asian carp. Not yet a threat to Lake Superior,
the Asian carp has moved closer to Lake Michigan.
"Invasive species that get into Lake Michigan are
going to get into Lake Superior and have gotten into Lake
Superior," Bergson said.
Federal Great Lakes lawmakers, including Rep. Jim Oberstar,
D-Minn., and Sens. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., and Mark Dayton,
D-Minn., have made a bipartisan effort to secure more
federal money for the Great Lakes, but there's no guarantee
they will succeed.
But the importance of the mayors adding their voice to
the debate is that they come from both conservative and
liberally dominated cities, said Ray Skelton, the environment
and government affairs director with the Duluth Seaway
Skelton has focused much of his career on invasive species.
"When you have this great hammering at both sides
of the aisle in Congress, they have more of a tendency
to pay attention," Skelton said.