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Natural Awakenings Chicago

Take Five Minutes to Help Save the Great Lakes

Aug 24, 2012 10:59AM

The Alliance for the Great Lakes is conducting a campaign to reach 5,000 signatures on an online petition to keep sewage out of HOMES (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior).

Billions of gallons of combined raw sewage, trash and personal hygiene products, along with industrial wastewater, household chemicals, urban runoff, herbicides and pesticides often flow into the lakes after heavy rains. Bacteria, viruses and other pathogens in untreated sewage pose a significant health risk and are one of the causes of Great Lakes beach closings and swimming advisories.

Fortunately, these sewer overflows can be vastly reduced. Many municipalities have plans for sewer system improvements that will significantly reduce combined sewer overflows. But these plans are costly, and local governments often struggle to finance them.

Unfortunately, federal contributions to the loan program that helps finance sewer system improvements, the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), could be cut back this year. The fund provides low-interest loans and flexible financing options to help local governments carry out much-needed wastewater management projects, including innovative green infrastructure. For every federal dollar appropriated, states contribute 20 cents.

A study by the Brookings Institution found that every $1 invested in Great Lakes restoration leads to at least $2 in economic return through the creation of jobs, tourism and development. Urge congress and the president to support sustained and increased investment in the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. Help keep untreated sewage out of the Great Lakes!


Sign the petition and share it at Tinyurl.com/GreatLakesPetition.