Efforts to restore the Great Lakes are already producing results in communities across the region — from Buffalo to Detroit, Chicago to Duluth, Minn.

Federal funds to restore the Great Lakes have helped:

• Clean up contamination such as PCBs and dioxin from the mouth of the Oswego River near Lake Ontario so that now the area is safe for fishing and swimming again;
• Fix outdated sewer systems in Duluth, Minn., to keep millions of gallons of sewage from entering Lake Superior every year; and
• Remove concrete and steel from the banks of the Detroit River and rebuilt wetlands, so that now mayflies, yellow perch, and lake sturgeon have returned to the river.

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition is chronicling Great Lakes restoration success stories. You can read them here.

The results are inspiring: Anglers and boaters can now be found in rivers that were once too polluted for human use; beaches that were closed due to bacterial pollution are now magnets for people on summer days; and businesses are opening on restored waterfronts in cities like Milwaukee, Wis.

Federal programs like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative are benefitting people, communities and businesses. By cleaning up drinking water, putting people to work and improving the quality of life for millions of people, Great lakes restoration may be the best return on the federal dollar in the budget.

Need is Great
But there is still work to do.

• Aging sewers dump billions of gallons of sewage into the Lakes every year, closing beaches and threatening our health.
• Invasive species such as the zebra mussel and sea lamprey are harming the food web and commercial and sport fisheries—while new threats like the Asian carp continue to appear.
• Toxic pollutants remain in the mud along Great Lakes rivers and harbors of major cities throughout the region, posing risks to human health and wildlife and pushing down property values.
• Polluted run-off from farms and cities are harming water quality and contributing to the resurgence of toxic algae blooms.

If the nation cuts funding to Great Lakes programs now, it will only cost more later because all of these projects will only get harder and more expensive to solve the longer we wait.

The good news is that we have solutions. The nation needs to continue efforts to modernize sewage treatment, clean up polluted harbors, restore wetlands and prevent unwanted, new species from entering the Great Lakes.

Each of these steps is essential to restore the Lakes, protect our drinking water, safeguard public health, create jobs and uphold the quality of life for millions of people.