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January 28th 2015

Water Protection Rule will be the Subject of Congressional Hearing Next Week

On Wednesday of next week two committees from the House and the Senate will hold a joint hearing to discuss the Waters of the United States Rule—the rule put forward by the Obama administration last year to help clarify the extent of Clean Water Act protections. You can watch these proceedings live at 10a EST on February 4 via this House webcast, or follow us on twitter @healthylakes where we’ll be live-tweeting the event. The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition strongly supports the Waters of the U.S. rule, also known at the EPA’s Protect Clean Water Rule. The rule clarifies the extent of the Clean Water Act, restoring protections for small streams and wetlands that were protected for almost 30 years.

The clarity provided by the Waters of the U.S. Rule is critical to the success of Great Lakes restoration: small tributaries, whose protection under the Clean Water Act is unclear, feed into larger rivers like the Kalamazoo, the Cuyahoga, the Milwaukee, and the St. Louis. In turn, these rivers feed into the Great Lakes, provide habitat for spawning like sturgeon, and are the source of drinking water for countless communities around the lakes. Indeed, over 30 million people in the Great Lakes get some of their drinking water from these currently unprotected streams and rivers. Protecting these small waters from nutrient pollution, toxins, or industrial waste is not optional if we want to see the Great Lakes restored.

You can read more background information about the Waters of the U.S. Rule here.

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January 27th 2015

Act to Authorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Gains New Co-Sponors

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2015 was introduced in the House at the beginning of the year by Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio) along with 17 co-sponsors. Since then, eight additional co-sponsors have joined to support the bill, including Reps. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.), Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.), Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.) Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.), and Robert Dold (R-Ill.).

Original co-sponsors include: Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Sander Levin (D-Mich.), Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) Dan Benishek (R-Mich.), Chris Collins (R-NY), Richard Nolan (D-Minn.) Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), Tom Reed (R-NY), Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), James Renacci (R-Ohio), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Candice Miller (R-Mich.), and Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.). The total number of co-sponsors has reached 25.

The Act would authorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for five years, at $300 million annually. Currently, the GLRI is not an authorized program, which means there are no assurances the program will be included in the budget at all and no standard funding level proposed. The GLRI Act of 2015 would change that, providing certainty for groups invested in the long-term restoration of the lakes.

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January 27th 2015

Senator Stabenow Elected to Co-Chair Task Force on Great Lakes Issues

Yesterday, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) was elected to co-chair the Great Lakes Task Force in the Senate along with co-chair Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). Sen. Stabenow takes the place of retired Senator Carl Levin as the co-leader of the task force. She was elected by her colleagues in the Great Lakes states. The Great Lakes Task Force is made up of members from both the Senate and the House who work together to pass legislation germane to the Great Lakes.


You can read Senator Stabenow’s statement on her website, here.

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January 23rd 2015

Weekly News Roundup: The GLRI, Harmful Algal Blooms, and More

In case you missed the past week in Great Lakes conservation news:

A bill to reauthorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is currently being considered by Congress, reports the Sandusky Register. The bipartisan bill would continue funding the GLRI at $300 million per year through FY2020.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predicts that four of the five Great Lakes will be far above their average water levels this summer, according to the Detroit News. The lone exception will be Lake Ontario, which has artificially controlled water levels.


The Watertown Daily Times reports that an invasive species of faucet snail, Bithynia tentaculata, is far more pervasive in the Great Lakes than was previously thought. The invasive snail carries several types of intestinal parasites that can be extremely harmful to waterfowl that ingest them.


The cyanobacteria that cause harmful algal blooms can alter lake chemistry to further promote their growth, reports the Sandusky Register. In addition to feeding off the excessive nutrient runoff into the lakes, the bacteria can actually drive the lakes’ phosphorus and nitrogen cycles.


Toledo is planning to convene a panel of experts to discuss potential long-term solutions to harmful algal blooms in western Lake Erie and the threats they pose to the city’s drinking water, reports the Toledo Blade. The panel is expected to include a mix of science, policy, technical, and regulatory experts.

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January 16th 2015

Weekly News Roundup: Asian Carp, Farm Bill, and More

In case you missed this past week in Great Lakes conservation news:


Ohio’s two U.S. senators are asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to cease dumping dredged material into Lake Erie, reports the Toledo Blade. There is bipartisan support amongst Ohio lawmakers for ending this practice.


Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH) is reintroducing a bill that could help reduce the future impact of harmful algal blooms, according to the Associated Press. The bill would require environmental regulators to develop a plan investigating the health risks associated with toxic algal blooms and coming up with guidelines for testing and treating them.


The Detroit News reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is awarding $40 million in grants to conservation projects in the Great Lakes region. The grant is par of the most recent Farm Bill’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program.


The Toledo Blade reports that Asian carp DNA has been detected in waters around Chicago. While the presence of DNA may be incidental, environmental groups believe it demonstrates the growing threat of an Asian carp invasion of the Great Lakes.

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  • 2015 Great Lakes Days

    Great Lakes Day for 2015 will be happening in Washington, D.C., at the end of February. Each year, the Coalition and others gather in Washington to talk with members of congress about why Great Lakes restoration is important and needed.  

  • Check out the Latest Update from the Field

    Read our latest field update from Michigan. Ducks Unlimited shares the results of their restoration tour with Congressman Dan Benishek. Learn more.


  • Great Lakes Restoration Conference

    Looking for information about the Great Lakes Restoration Conference? Visit the conference website at