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Putting the Great Lakes on the Presidential Agenda

Restoration of the Buffalo River has been central to the economic revitalization of Buffalo, New York. (George Burns/Wikimedia Commons)
Restoration of the Buffalo River has been central to the economic revitalization of Buffalo, New York. (George Burns/Wikimedia Commons)
September 20, 2016

BUFFALO, N.Y. - A broad coalition of business, industrial and environmental leaders wants to know where the presidential candidates stand on protecting and restoring the Great Lakes. Presidential leadership has been critical to efforts to clean up the lakes that hold 95 percent of the nation's fresh surface water.

According to Todd Ambs with the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, since 2010 the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has invested $300 million a year in projects to clean the waters, fight invasive species and restore habitat.

"We've really seen a lot of tremendous progress on some of the challenges facing the Great Lakes," he said. "We have much more work to do. There's no question that there are significant challenges that remain."

On Thursday, representatives of the Clinton and Trump campaigns are scheduled to address the 12th annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference now meeting in Sandusky, Ohio.

Brian Smith, associate executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said the cleanup of the Buffalo River has a huge success but antiquated wastewater treatment facilities and nutrient runoff from communities around the lakes are still a problem.

"So we want to see the presidential candidates make a commitment to funding the Great Lakes Restoration initiative and investing in our clean-water infrastructure," he said.

A 2016 poll of voters in Great Lakes states found that more than 60 percent strongly support continued funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY