TOLEDO, OHIO (September 29, 2017) – Community leaders in Toledo joined Great Lakes advocates today to urge the U.S. Congress to at least double federal investments in water infrastructure to prevent neighborhood flooding, keep beaches open, and provide safe drinking water.
Toledo community leaders and Great Lakes advocates urged the U.S. Congress to increase federal support for community infrastructure projects at an all-day forum organized by the Junction Coalition. The event celebrated some local successful projects to reduce flooding from stormwater, as well as highlighted challenges communities still face when it comes to water infrastructure.
The call for federal action comes as communities across the country grapple with a staggering backlog of work to fix, repair, and modernize their drinking water and waste water infrastructure. Nearly $180 billion is needed over the next twenty years, according to the EPA, to update the wastewater and drinking water infrastructure in the eight-state Great Lakes region of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and New York. Nationally, the tab is approximately $660 billion.
Great Lakes communities—many of whom have high rates of poverty—cannot afford to pay for these upgrades alone, which are often extremely expensive. Rising water rates put families at risk for having their water turned off. The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition believes that every person deserves the right to clean, safe, affordable drinking water as well as waste water services.
At the Junction neighborhood event, Toledo residents, elected officials, and Great Lakes advocates toured a local project to install rain gardens and bioswales to capture and absorb rain water to reduce flooding in a 13-block neighborhood. The project, funded by the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, is a strong example of how local and federal partners can work together to promote the health of communities and the Great Lakes.
Partners in the event said:
“Our communities urban or otherwise are thankful to Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds that help to develop community action,” said Alicia Smith, executive director of the Junction Coalition. “We are thankful to Healing Our Waters and many of our other partners for their investment in the growth of the neighborhoods and health of our neighbors, protecting our resources and our lives are fundamental to the pillars of our community.”
“Our region and country have a water infrastructure crisis that demands our federal government step up to the plate as a partner with local communities. Federal investments in the Great Lakes are producing results in Toledo and around the region. We need more of them,” said Chad Lord, policy director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “We have solutions that can put an end to flooded basements and closed beaches. Congress must invest in solutions to help local communities confront the nation’s water infrastructure crisis and to protect our drinking water, economy, and way of life. Delay will only make these problems worse and more costly to solve.”
“We must bring together all levels of government and community partners to solve our water infrastructure challenges,” said Katie Rousseau, director of Clean Water Supply, Great Lakes region at American Rivers. “The Junction community is leading by example through partnerships, planning efforts, and the implementation of green stormwater solutions. Through their efforts, residents experience less basement flooding and the rivers, creeks, and streams receive less pollution.”
“As the District 4 Representative, I am very supportive of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative that has funded a number of restoration projects in District 4! These projects include beautiful rain gardens and bio-swales both of which help to control water run-off into our most valued waterways,” said Yvonne Harper, Councilwoman for district four in Toledo. “Through this Federal, State and Local partnership, locations across District 4 and Toledo’s Central City areas, including the Aurora House, Wilson Park, Belmont-Forest and the Junction Ave. neighborhood, have all benefited from this investment.”
“I am thankful to Healing Our Waters Coalition, Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for all of the support to the Junction Community” said Mary Jones, community member and resident of the Junction Neighborhood in Toledo.
“I am thankful that my basement doesn’t flood anymore, since the bioswale has been put in. We are learning a lot about our role taking care of our green space,” said Cathy Ridley, community member and resident of the Junction Neighborhood in Toledo.
The mission of the Junction Coalition is to provide a viable voice to our neighbors and to cultivate healthy relationships throughout the community. The Junction Coalition seeks to promote healthy relationships with local, state, and federal government to build a better quality of life for community members and for business owners who benefit the Junction community. Learn more at http://junctionfunction419.wixsite.com/junctioncoalition.
The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of more than 145 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Learn more at www.healthylakes.org or follow us on Twitter @healthylakes.