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Great Lakes Article:

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 cities.

"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, Bergson said.

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 said.

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 Port Authority.

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.

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