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Congressional Debate Determines Future of Michigan's Waterways


Monday, April 20, 2009   

Ann Arbor, MI - Restoration of the Great Lakes is in the hands of Congress, which is considering the Clean Water Restoration Act to secure safeguards for wetlands, lakes and streams. The legislation restores protections that had been placed in doubt by Supreme Court rulings; environmentalists claim those rulings left the waterways vulnerable to pollution and destruction.

Gildo Tori, director of public policy for the conservation group Ducks Unlimited, says the nation's wetlands play an important role in keeping our water clean.

"Nature has provided wetlands free of charge to take care of so many of the services we pay for today, like water quality, drinking water treatment, sewage treatment. These wetlands are jewels for our society in terms of helping us have healthy, cleaner water."

Tori says the loss of wetlands has significant impacts that go beyond water quality.

"We're going to see more floods, and more frequent floods, actually with less rainfall, because there's no place for that water to go. I think we'll see a loss of our fish and wildlife resources, and right now those represent millions of dollars worth of business and economic benefit."

The Healing Our Waters - Great Lakes Coalition reports that more than 65 percent of the Great Lakes' original wetlands have been filled in or destroyed. Tori says farmers and ranchers, who are concerned about new restrictions under the restoration act, will continue to be exempt if the act becomes law. Farming operations will also keep existing exemptions.

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