According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Project (GLRI) is the largest Federal investment in the basin for the past 20 years. GLRI is a federal program that was enacted to support efforts of restoring and protecting the Great Lakes and its ecosystems. “The GLRI meets its objectives by investing in a variety of restoration projects that clean up toxic pollutions, restore habitat and wetlands, and combat invasive species like Asian carp,” noted Victor Bierman, Ohio lawyer and business expert. Currently, there are approximately 3 million Ohioans who depend on Lake Erie for their drinking water. Rob Portman, U.S. Senator, mentioned in an op-ed that “hundreds of thousands of Ohioans depend on Lake Erie for jobs.”
In addition, the bordering U.S. states and Canadian provinces formed a compact agreement in 2008, known as the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. The compact outlines the shared roles and responsibilities of the parties. The compact also required states and provinces to enact legislation to protect the basin.
Therefore, Lake Erie is vital to the state of Ohio and so is the GLRI whose main objective is to restore the Great Lakes basin including Lake Erie. Ohio has released grants as well as taken part in a number of projects and initiatives to help shore up the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. In 2016, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown announced a $175,000 grant from GLRI to install bioretention cells at Wildwood Park in Cleveland for preventing untreated storm water runoff from finding its way into Lake Erie.
“ A great deal of progress has been made in recent years to improve the lake’s condition and bold reforms Ohio has championed under the leadership of Governor Kasich have contributed to that progress. Ohio has spent more than $2.5 billion in the Lake Erie watershed since 2011,” mentioned Emmalee Kalmbach, Press Secretary for Governor John Kasich in a statement to Great Lakes Now.
Also, the U.S. government has provided more than $1.7B in Federal funding through the GLRI for 3,455 projects. The EPA alone was responsible for nearly half the funding of nearly 1,000 projects. And with the EPA’s roles, budget and responsibilities being redefined, some of its funding in the future will likely come from some of the other 13 Federal agencies that have been funding the GLRI and the Great Lakes states and provinces, including Ohio, that are signatories to the compact agreement.
Image Credit: Tom Whitten