Senate committee votes to control Great Lakes nonpoint pollution

Efforts to restore and protect the Great Lakes received a boost today when a U.S. Senate committee voted to reauthorize a key program supporting local efforts to benefit water quality in the Great Lakes basin.

The U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee agreed to include language presented by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (MI) to reauthorize the Great Lakes Basin Program for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control as one of the conservation programs in the 2007 Farm Bill. The legislation identifies the Basin Program as a means of achieving one of the top priorities of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy to Restore and Protect the Great Lakes – reducing nonpoint source runoff from rural and urban areas.

“The Great Lakes Basin Program is one of the best examples of on-the-ground restoration and protection efforts we have going in the Great Lakes region,” said Michigan Lt. Gov. John Cherry, chair of the Great Lakes Commission. “Since 1991, it has helped prevent more than 1 million tons of soil erosion and kept more than 5 million pounds of phosphorous out of Great Lakes tributaries. I’d like to commend Sen. Stabenow and the members of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee for supporting our goals for protecting and restoring the Great Lakes.”

The Great Lakes Basin Program is one of several conservation programs benefiting the Great Lakes that the committee voted to authorize today. Others include the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Security Program. However, the Great Lakes Basin Program is the only one specifically addressing the needs of the Great Lakes and their tributaries; the others are national in scope. The Senate bill authorizes the Basin Program at up to $5 million per year for five years.

The Great Lakes Basin Program for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control provides grants to local projects that help reduce soil erosion and sedimentation and otherwise control nonpoint source pollution on Great Lakes tributaries. By helping to keep excess sediment and land-based pollutants such as phosphorous and nitrogen out of the water, the program helps maintain clean sources of drinking water, protect fish and wildlife, and reduce the costs of dredging sediment from navigation channels and harbors. The program is administered by the Great Lakes Commission.

The Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Restoration Strategy is a comprehensive blueprint for restoring and protecting the Great Lakes that was initiated by executive order from President George W. Bush recognizing the Great Lakes as a national treasure. Based on the priorities identified by the Great Lakes Governors in 2003, the strategy was produced by 1,500 Great Lakes stakeholders and experts representing a broad cross-section of regional interests and expertise.

For immediate release: October 25, 2007
 Tim Eder,, office: 734-971-9135

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