U.S. Water News Online
WASHINGTON -- The United States and Canada now have a
comprehensive plan for cleaning up the Great Lakes, according to the
environmentalists who devised it.
A coalition of about 30 U.S. and Canadian environmental groups
released their agenda for the project recently, calling for specific
cleanup plans, funding increases and regulatory changes.
The environmentalists' plan comes less than a month after a
congressional report said the federal government has failed to
coordinate cleanup programs on the lakes with states and regional
It also follows a status report released May 1 by the
International Joint Commission that showed slow progress on the clean
up of 43 contaminated sites on the lakes. The commission was created
by the United States and Canada in 1909 to deal with Great Lakes
``We're sick and tired of these reports coming out and nothing
happening. It just seems to go on and on,'' said Margaret Wooster,
executive director of Great Lakes United, an environmental watchdog
group based in Buffalo, N.Y., that released the cleanup agenda.
The Great Lakes ``Green Book'' calls on the U.S. and Canadian
governments to adopt an agreement for regulating the withdrawal of
water from the lakes by 2004, clean up all contaminated sites on the
basin by 2015, use 20 percent more renewable energy by 2020, and
increase the amount of protected wetlands in the area by 2025.
``We set the standards as high and as broad as possible,'' Wooster
said. ``We need a substantial increase in funding, but we also need
to look at the regulations and we need to look at the monitoring.''
The agenda lists state and federal strategies for cleaning up
toxic sediments, encouraging clean energy, monitoring water quantity,
improving air and water quality standards, guarding against invasive
species, and protecting natural habitats around the lakes.
It commends Congress for passing the Great Lakes Legacy Act last
year but calls on it to be funded at $54 million a year for five
years. The act was funded last year at $50 million.
Great Lakes groups and officials from the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency and International Joint Commission agree that
restoration will require a long-term strategy, but it's unclear who
will take the lead.
The EPA released its plan to clean up and restore the lakes last
year. Other groups, such the Council of Great Lake Governors and
Great Lakes Commission, which represents local leaders, also have
released cleanup strategies in the past year.
``We keep pushing and praying that the administration will
recognize the formation of this train and take charge,'' said Dennis
Schornack, chairman of the U.S. section of the International Joint
Schornack welcomed the recommendations. He said several government
reports had called for a comprehensive strategy to clean up the Great
Lakes and this new action plan will help in developing one.
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