In 2009, President Barack Obama and the US Environmental Protection Agency proposed the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) to invest $475 million per year over 5 years in restoring Great Lakes ecosystems. Building upon years of research and planning by federal and local government officials, public interest groups, and private citizens, the Initiative identified targeted goals to address the priorities set by the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy. In 2010, Congress set this plan in motion by providing full funding at $475 million.
In Indiana, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has already funded over 45 projects, bringing a total investment of over $83.4 million to the state since 2010. Indiana also benefits from 27.6 million dollars in multi-state funds. Funded projects range from remediation of contaminated waterbodies to restoration of wetlands, prairies, savannas, and waterways to the development of improved techniques for water quality monitoring.
The investments made through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative represent tangible gains to the state through restored ecological services affecting health, recreation, and quality of life, through strengthening of environmental safeguards in the state, and through direct investment and job creation by federal dollars.
Save the Dunes and members of the Healing Our Waters – Great Lakes Coalition are advocating for authorization of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for the next five years. Authorization of the GLRI into law would ensure that critical projects to cleanup hazardous waste and restore habitats in the Great Lakes continue with adequate funding. Every year we travel to Washington, DC to advocate for funding for critical programs such as GLRI and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which provides funding for infrastructure upgrades necessary for protecting water quality.