Great Lakes Environmental Directory Great Lakes Great Lakes environment Great Lakes grants exotic species water pollution water export drilling environment Great Lakes pollution Superior Michigan Huron Erie Ontario ecology Great Lakes issues wetlands Great Lakes wetlands Great Lakes Great Lakes environment Great Lakes watershed water quality exotic species Great Lakes grants water pollution water export oil gas drilling environment environmental Great Lakes pollution Lake Superior Lake Michigan Lake Huron Lake Erie Lake Ontario Great Lakes ecology Great Lakes issues Great Lakes wetlands Great Lakes Resources Great Lakes activist Great Lakes environmental organizations Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat air pollution alien species threatened rare endangered species ecological Great Lakes information Success Stories Great Lakes Directory Home/News Great Lakes Calendar Great Lakes jobs/volunteering Search Great Lakes Organizations Take Action! Contact Us Resources/Links Great Lakes Issues Great Lakes News Article About Us Networking Services

Great Lakes Article:

Editorial: Letís reverse trend on water quality in Great Lakes
The Sheboygan Press
10/07/03


The progress made on cleaning the waters of the Great Lakes basin following the passage of the federal Clean Water Act in 1972 was heartening.

Rules limiting emissions and setting an ambitious goal of eliminating all toxic chemical releases by 1985 led to dramatic improvements in water quality for two decades.

But that trend is reversing. A series of special report in The Detroit News of the Gannett Corp. in recent days said that while no one still expects to be able to eliminate all toxic releases, much more can be done.

The series titled "Great Lakes polluters dump without fear" points out that:

Known releases of toxic chemicals into the lakes and rivers of the basin increased from 12.5 million pounds to 15.7 million pounds between 1996 and 2001.

Three-quarters of the nationís largest 6,500 industrial and sewer plants on the Great Lakes have violated the law in the last two years.

The percentage of the biggest polluters cited for "significant noncompliance" rose from 16 to 24 percent between 1994 and 2001.

A 1991 investigation by the U.S. General Accounting Office, Congressí investigative arm, found that toxic release levels are 20 times higher than what is reported to the government.

The number of enforcement actions dropped 9 percent since 1999.

There are many reasons behind these disturbing statistics. One is a lack of money and resources to property enforce the laws. At the federal level, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencyís budgets and staffs have been whittled down. Strong state enforcers like the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources have also been reduced and our new state budget decreases the resources available for enforcing the laws.

As a result agencies are forced to only go after the worst offenders and the number of serious enforcement actions have dropped 9 percent since 1999.

Whatís needed are more resources devoted to enforcement. In addition, stricter enforcement are needed such as New Jerseyís new regulation that establishes mandatory penalties for violations.

The government should also look to lowering the amounts of pollution that are permitted.

More funding should go for improving the technology to monitor releases and to clean them up pollutants.

The funding for mopping up past pollution is also woefully inadequate. The Bush administration has asked for $270 million for cleanup of existing pollution in lake and river sediments; critics claim the necessary amount is $6 billion.

Besides reasserting tighter regulations on the pollution from industrial and sewage treatment plants, much more must be done on the so-called "non-point" pollution such as runoff from urban areas, construction sites and farm fields.

While no one can expect the Great Lakes to be completely toxin-free in the coming years, we owe it to ourselves and to coming generations to reverse the trends of recent years and continue the progress toward better and better water quality that started in the 1970s.

This information is posted for nonprofit educational purposes, in accordance with U.S. Code Title 17, Chapter 1,Sec. 107 copyright laws.
For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for
purposes of your own that go beyond "fair use," you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


Great Lakes environmental information

Return to Great Lakes Directory Home/ Site Map