Coalition of cities, states, tribes, business, industry and conservation organizations release joint priorities for the Great Lakes

Ahead of Great Lakes Day this week in Washington D.C., a coalition representing business, industry and environmental groups and cities, states, and tribes released joint priorities for sustaining Great Lakes restoration and economic revitalization. The coalition presented a joint agenda for the lakes, which serve as the source of drinking water for more than 48 million people in the U.S. and Canada and directly generate more than 1.5 million jobs. The agenda urges members of Congress and the administration to fully fund the critical Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, preserve and strengthen agricultural conservation programs, invest in aging water infrastructure, maintain and upgrade ports, locks and other navigation infrastructure, and protect the Great Lakes from aquatic invasive species.

“These joint priorities show how essential the Great Lakes are to both our region’s unique ecosystem and $5 trillion economy,” said John Linc Stine, chair of the Great Lakes Commission and commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. “On behalf of our member states and provinces, I am proud to stand with this diverse coalition and present joint priorities for restoring and protecting the lakes.”

“We’re asking Congress to not let up now: Federal Great Lakes restoration investments have been producing results for our environment and economy—but serious threats remain,” said Todd Ambs, campaign director for the 150-member Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “Until drinking water restrictions, fish consumption advisories, beach closures, and toxic hotspots are a thing of the past, our work is not done. We’re counting on Congress to maintain support for a robust Great Lakes platform that includes continued restoration work and a bipartisan water infrastructure package that provides financial relief to local communities and ensures that every person has access to clean, safe and affordable drinking water.”

“The Great Lakes Congressional delegation has a strong history of rallying behind the Great Lakes, largely because we are united in our interest in protecting and improving these invaluable resources,” said Robert Lambe, executive secretary of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. “The Fishery alone is worth $7 billion annually to the people of Canada and the United States, and we appreciate the strong, binational commitment to the Lakes.”

“It is imperative for Washington to understand the value of protecting our drinking water for current and future generations,” said Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative chairman, Mayor Paul Dyster (Niagara Falls-NY). “If they do not act now, taxpayers will face greater costs moving forward.”

“We’ve all come together to repair these Great Lakes and we can’t walk away now,” Jane A. TenEyck, Executive Director of the Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority. “Much work remains to be done.”

“The Great Lakes are a critical resource for this region's economy, and restoring them spurs economic revitalization and creates jobs,” said Kathryn Buckner, president of the Council of Great Lakes Industries (CGLI). “CGLI members look to the bipartisan Great Lakes congressional delegation to fully fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, strengthen investments in drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, and maintain and upgrade commercial ports, locks and other navigation infrastructure.”

The priorities were endorsed by the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, Great Lakes Commission, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority, Council of Great Lakes Industries, and the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition. They were released in advance of Great Lakes Day, an annual event that brings hundreds of people from dozens of organizations to Washington, D.C., to educate elected officials about the importance of the lakes.