Congress authorized funding for contaminated sediment cleanup in Great Lakes Areas of Concern in November by passing the Great Lakes Legacy Act. But emerging federal budget controls jeopardize full funding. Though Congress took the first step in the funding process,“authorization” for a given amount, it has yet to approve the amount in “appropriations,” the second step.
“Not a single Area of Concern has been cleaned up in the U.S. since they were designated in 1987,” said Cameron Davis, executive director of the Lake Michigan Federation. “It’s time to fully fund efforts to protect public health and water quality. Congress has set up the bank account, now it needs to write the check.”
Passage of the act caps two years’ collaborative efforts by the Federation, Sierra Club, Council of Great Lakes Industries, and others. With a well-organized citizen coalition at the ready in the Waukegan Harbor Citizens’ Advisory Group, Illinois could soon benefit from any funds made available for cleanup efforts. Projects funded under the Legacy Act could help to jumpstart a more comprehensive effort to achieve full restoration of Areas of Concern and other Great Lakes ecosystems over the next decade.