The bipartisan infrastructure package released last week contains $1 billion for Great Lakes restoration efforts through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to restore fish and wildlife habitat, reduce farm runoff pollution, clean up toxic contamination, and manage invasive species. The “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act” also contains billions more for other clean water priorities, such as updating drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. If passed, the bill would distribute funds over five years. The $1 billion in supplemental Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding represents substantial new resources for that program. The U.S. Congress has funded the Great Lakes Restoration Initiate at around $300 million to $340 million per year over the last several years.

Laura Rubin, director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, said:

“This funding will be a shot in the arm to make our Great Lakes and our communities healthier. Federal investments to restore the lakes have been producing results, yet serious threats remain. Poisoned drinking water, closed beaches, contaminated fish, and unaffordable water bills continue to impact people in cities and towns across the region, which underscores the need to address these urgent problems now, before they get worse and more costly to solve.

“The $1 billion for Great Lakes restoration and protection in this bill is a big step forward in helping to confront these serious threats. We appreciate the leadership of U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) for helping advance Great Lakes restoration priorities as part of the bipartisan Senate infrastructure negotiations. Boosting funding will accelerate clean-up efforts, protect our drinking water, spur local job creation, and safeguard our public health.

“We thank the region’s congressional delegation for continuing to make the health of the Great Lakes and our communities a priority, and we look forward to working with members of Congress and the Biden Administration on this and future bills to ensure that every person has access to clean, safe, and affordable drinking water.”

Since 2004, the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition has been harnessing the collective power of more than 160 groups representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Learn more at HealthyLakes.org or follow us on Twitter @HealthyLakes.