Last week the Healing Our Waters- Great Lakes Coalition brought together organizations and volunteers from across the eight Great Lakes states to meet with U.S. senators and representatives on the need to protect this national treasure.
Sierra Club once again participated in the Great Lakes Days two-day event, represented by Chicago Group members Krista Grimm and Sabi Horvat, and Clean Water Organizer Colleen Smith. We met with nearly all members of the Illinois delegation and attended several events where we were able to meet and hear speeches from our Great Lakes Senators and Representatives.
Krista Grimm has participated in Great Lakes days for several years and knows her efforts make a difference. “I met two sport fishermen from outside Columbus, Ohio, and we found that we didn’t agree on anything politically, but we were all there to work for the lakes. That shared common purpose, and meetings where the legislative staff says yes, yes, and yes, are proof that our advocacy has impact.”
Sabi Horvat felt a similar effect from his experience. “This was my first time talking to representatives so it was a great experience to learn about the legislative process. I was not expecting to be inspired by Washington DC, but my impressions from the passionate Great Lakes crew and the representatives and staff gave me hope for the future.”
Five priority issues were asked of our legislators:
1) Funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative- GLRI funds are used for thousands of critical projects in each state that restore habitat, clean up pollution, and improve our beaches along Lake Michigan.
2) Authorize the Great Lakes Ecological and Economic Protection Act-GLEEPA would establish stability for GLRI funding and reauthorize the Great Lakes Legacy Act–ensuring we continually strengthen our efforts in protecting the Great Lakes.
3) Prevent invasive Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes – The release of the Great Lakes Mississippi River Interbasin Study has shown that physical separation is the most effective option for preventing transfer of aquatic invaders. We need immediate, interim, and long-term solutions to this costly and devastating problem.
4) Support funding the Clean Water State Revolving Fund -CWSRP is a loan program that offers states much needed resources for investments in aging water infrastructure. By fixing leaking pipes and outdated sewer systems, we stop CSOs and save money.
5) Protect waterways under the Clean Water Act-The U.S. EPA is set to establish a rulemaking that will help clarify the Clean Water Act and enhance protection for our wetlands and streams.