December 12, 2016 (Duluth, Minn.) — In a major victory this weekend for the people, businesses, and communities in Minnesota which rely on the Great Lakes for their drinking water, jobs and way of life, over the weekend, the U.S. Congress passed a bill that authorizes $1.5 billion for region-wide Great Lakes restoration investments. The Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, formerly known as the Water Resources Development Act, received bi-partisan support in both the House and the Senate.
“This is a big victory for the Great Lakes and the people and businesses of Minnesota which depend on them,” said Steve Morse, Executive Director at the Minnesota Environmental Partnership. “The authorization of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative through the WIIN Act will directly benefit the people of Minnesota. We thank Minnesota’s Reps. John Kline, Erik Paulsen, Keith Ellison, Tom Emmer, Collin Peterson, Rick Nolan, and Tim Walz, along with Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken.
“Between 2010 and 2015, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) has invested $39 million in Minnesota through 124 projects and the results are just as impressive: Fish are returning to the rivers, we are seeing fewer beach closings, and there’s significant progress on clean-up of toxic sediment. More work remains to be done, though, and thanks to authorization projects on the ground now have greater certainty their work will be funded and can begin to undertake longer, more complex work.”
Instrumental in getting the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative authorization language in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act were Sen. Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Reps. Nolan, McCollum and Walz (D-Minn.), and many others (link here). Other Great Lakes provisions were included in the act, such as authorization for funding to replace Flint, Mich.’s lead-lined and aging water infrastructure, the Army Corps’ Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Restoration Act, and the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act.