WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) hosted a news conference call as he continues to lead efforts to keep the Great Lakes and Lake Erie healthy. On Thursday, Great Lakes advocates will travel to Washington to mark Great Lakes Day and push for continued investment and resources to protect the health of Great Lakes, including Lake Erie.
Brown will be speaking at the Great Lakes Commission Congressional Breakfast on Thursday.
“We know how vital Lake Erie is to Ohio. From tourism in Catawba and Put-in-Bay, to fishing at Marblehead, to vacations and family reunions at Maumee Bay State Park, Lake Erie benefits our communities and creates jobs in Ohio. Its waters are critical to farming, clean energy development, industry, and regional economic competitiveness,” said Brown.
Brown was joined on the call by Ms. Gail Hesse, who serves as the Director for the Great Lakes Water Program for the National Wildlife Federation. Ms. Hesse also previously served as the Executive Director of Ohio’s Lake Erie Commission.
“Federal investments in the Great Lakes are producing results, but serious threats remain. Projects will only become more difficult and expensive the longer we wait. We are asking the U.S. Congress to increase funding to clean water programs, and oppose rollbacks of clean water protections. We need both robust funding and strong protections to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to protect and restore the Great Lakes,” said Ms. Hesse.
Brown has worked to secure important wins for Lake Erie through legislation and by speaking out against harmful proposals that threaten the health of Lake Erie.
Brown secured $320 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) in the 2020 appropriations package. GLRI is a results-driven program, and this funding ensures that it has the resources it needs to address the most serious issues that threaten the ecological and economic wellbeing of the Great Lakes basin, including invasive species, pollution, and toxic contamination.
Brown was also able to include several provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill to protect Lake Erie and Ohio Waterways. The final bill includes provisions from Brown’s bipartisan Give Our Resources the Opportunity to Work (GROW) Act, which will better utilize existing federal conservation programs to protect waterways and expand access to quality farmland.
In 2018, Brown’s the Water Resources Development Act was signed into law, which will help Ohio communities invest in clean water infrastructure and build or update water and sewer systems. While federal guidelines require municipalities to reduce the number of outdated CSO systems, Ohio communities are struggling to afford costly renovations to sewer systems and too often ratepayers bear the cost through rate increases. The grant funding will help communities improve water quality and keep rates affordable for Ohio residents. Combined sewer overflows threaten the health of Ohio waterways, including Lake Erie. CSOs can contribute to harmful algal blooms.
Brown also spoke out against the President’s 2021 budget, which would Cut USDA conservation programs that help improve water quality in Lake Erie. Brown and Sen. Rob Portman worked together to ensure GLRI was not only reinstated but also fully funded after President Trump proposed eliminating the program in 2018.