Efforts to restore the Great Lakes from more than a century of human-induced abuses have made great strides over the past decade, but a looming federal budget crisis could undo much of that progress.
Great Lakes advocates worked with Congress and President Barack Obama to create the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and secure $1 billion since 2008 to clean up toxic sediments, combat invasive species, reduce polluted runoff and restore fish and wildlife habitat. Those same advocates helped secure an additional $2 billion in government funds for sewer upgrades, which have reduced sewage overflows into the Great Lakes.
But the failure of Congress and presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama to live within the government’s financial means — and then deal effectively with this ongoing problem — could drive the nation into another financial and economic crisis in 2013.
The reason: The failure of federal politicians to solve the budget nightmare will force $1.2 trillion in mandatory budget cuts in 2013. Across the board budget cuts will mean Great Lakes programs will face cuts of 9 percent, or more, in 2013 and likely subsequent years.
The bottom line: Federal budget cuts will mean less money for Great Lakes restoration work and sewer upgrades, which will slow efforts to heal the lakes and likely result in cities dumping more untreated sewage flowing into the lakes.
This is troublesome, to say the least.
Learn more about this situation in a blog post I wrote for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition Web site.
And then please take a moment to tell your elected officials — particularly the campaigns of President Obama and Mitt Romney — that Great Lakes water quality should not be a victim of the childish political bickering that reigns supreme in Washington, D.C., these days.