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Great Lakes Article:

Keeping the Great Lakes clean
By Nick Cowdrey
News 10 Now
Posted August 18, 2005

Millions of people enjoy Lake Ontario every year, whether it is at one of the beaches, or on a boat casting out for fish.

For decades agencies like the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Environmental Protection Agency have kept the Great Lakes clean and protected. Now, the lakes face different problems than they did 30 or 40 years ago.

"Probably the greatest threat facing the Great Lakes today are invasive species, these are species that for the most part are brought into the Great Lakes through large vessels transporting goods from Europe, the far east, said Don Zelazny, New York Rivers Unite.

Several groups involved with the Great Lakes formed the Great Lakes Collaboration. Last month, they drafted a strategic plan to identify the problems facing the lakes. It focuses on eight areas including invasive species and infrastructure which is needed to lower the level of raw sewage getting into the lake which ultimately causes beaches to close because of high bacteria levels.

"Everyone is trying to come up with very strategic plan of what actions are now required to continue the process, and continue the progress we've made, but to address the new problems we are learning about," said Zelazny.

A large component to this plan is funding. Several agencies are working together to figure out how much it will cost to solve some of the major problems facing the lakes.

On Wednesday the New York Rivers Unite group held a meeting in Oswego with people who will be involved in implementing the plan.

"How can we better prioritize the projects in New York State, prioritize the efforts and collaborate more in a comprehensive way to address those issue so we actually solve problems," said Bruce Carpenter, New York Rivers Unite.

When it is finalized all of the stakeholders in the Great Lakes hope the federal and state government step up to the plate with funding to put the plan into action.

The state will hold a public meeting about the strategic plan. The meeting will be Tuesday, August 30th at The Center For Tomorrow at SUNY Buffalo from 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m.

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