Omnibus bill benefits Great Lakes, northern Wisconsin
The Daily Telegram (WI)
Published December 22, 2007
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Seventh District Congressman Dave Obey, D-Wis., announced today that the Omnibus Appropriation Bill includes almost $7.9 million requested for the Northern Wisconsin Environmental Assistance Program, which helps pay for necessary improvements to water related infrastructure in Ashland, Bayfield, Douglas and Iron counties.
“The basic building blocks for community growth, like access to clean water, good roads, and efficient sewers, can cost local taxpayers a lot. That’s why I’ve worked with local officials throughout my district to ensure that our local taxpayers get a helping hand in bearing those costs,” said Obey, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. “We created the Northern Wisconsin Environmental Assistance Program to help Northwoods communities grow while protecting Lake Superior, without putting too big a burden on local taxpayers. This money is intended to help the federal government continue to do just that.”
The Northern Wisconsin Environmental Assistance Program — also known as Section 154 — was created by Obey in 2000 to assist Ashland, Bayfield, Douglas and Iron counties finance work for repairing, expanding and upgrading water related infrastructure, including wells, sewer systems, dams, and wastewater treatment facilities. Over the last few years, Obey has secured more than $26 million for projects under this special authority. Projects funded by the program are selected by a special committee composed of representatives from the local communities and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Douglas County Board Chairman Doug Finn said among the projects to receive funding are sewer projects in Parkland, Poplar and Solon Springs and about $500,000 for the Parkland Industrial Park.
The Duluth Seaway Port Authority was grateful for Obey’s efforts to fund the Great Ships Initiative, Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute and dredging on the Great Lakes.
The Great Ships Initiative is ballast water treatment research center is a joint project of the U.S. and Canadian Great Lakes ports, the Northeast Midwest Institute, the University of Wisconsin and the University of Minnesota. Combined with contributions from the ports, grants from the U.S. federal government and previous earmarks from Congress, the project has now received more than $4.2 million in funding.
Funds earmarked within the U.S. Department of Transportation’s budget for the Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute, located at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. It serves as a research service to the Great Lakes maritime industry. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ budget for various dredging projects at Great Lakes ports or connecting channels receives $138.4 million for dredging, disposal facility construction/maintenance, and Soo Lock maintenance. This amount reflects a $31.8 million — 30 percent — over the Corps of Engineers’ budget request for the Great Lakes.