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Natural Awakenings Chicago

Great Lakes Day Provides Focus on Regional Issues

Mar 26, 2012 11:02AM

Photo: Wisconsin DNR

Joel Brammeier, president and CEO of Chicago’s Alliance for the Great Lakes, recently traveled to Washington, D.C., on Great Lakes Days, February 28 and 29, to meet with administration officials about progress made in preserving this great national resource from predatory invasive species and pollution.

He states, “The crescendo of support for separating the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River to stop the Asian carp and other invaders is near deafening, and we have to make a commitment for the long haul. I’m also pleased to see President Obama requesting significant funding in agency budgets for shorter-term carp controls in his FY13 budget.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are collaborating to address nutrient overloading and harmful algae blooms. This is most notable in western Lake Erie, where a bloom in summer 2011 containing massive levels of algae-produced toxins moved across the central part of the lake.

Beach closings in communities around the Great Lakes are decreasing as citizens work with local beach managers to implement the Adopt-a-Beach volunteer clean-up and monitoring program. Beaches are places where millions of people connect most directly with the lakes and serve as an economic backbone of coastal communities. Great Lakes cities still face major sewer overflow problems, and the Alliance will be working this summer to build support to restore funding that helps keep combined sewage out of the lakes.

"We still have work to do on stopping invasions from ballast water,” says Brammeier. “EPA requirements that technology aboard ships to stop new invaders is a step forward, but the timelines for implementation are too long and the EPA draft permit standards lag behind the efforts of states like California and New York.”

For more than 40 years, the Alliance for the Great Lakes has worked to conserve and restore the world’s largest freshwater resource using policy, education and citizen involvement.

For more information, visit To get involved with Adopt-a-Beach, visit