WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today announced that the Fiscal Year 2016 omnibus appropriation bill includes funding to help protect Lake Erie from harmful algal blooms, restore habitat, and improve water quality. The bill includes a continued $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and an additional year of authorization.

“We know that tourism along Lake Erie contributes more than $10 billion annually to Ohio’s economy. That’s why combating harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie is so critical for local economies dependent on tourism and boating,” said Brown. “Continued funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative will promote local businesses, protect wildlife,  improve water quality, and ensure that Ohioans’ have clean drinking water.”

According to the State of Ohio, more than $10 billion of the state’s nearly $40 billion tourism industry is derived from counties along the Lake Erie shoreline. The GLRI is an interagency effort to target the most significant problems in the region and jumpstart restoration efforts to protect, maintain, and restore the chemical, biological, and physical integrity of the Great Lakes. GLRI funding has helped support the removal of invasive species and plants in Ohio, funded the Toledo Harbor Sediment Management Plan, and provided resources for a comprehensive monitoring program to assess the nearshore Lake Erie water quality. In February, Brown introduced the Great Lakes Ecological and Economic Protection Act (GLEEPA), bipartisan legislation that would formally authorizing the GLRI.