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Coalition Seeks Commitment on Clean Drinking Water

Extreme weather due to climate change can exacerbate pollution runoff and toxic algal blooms in the Great Lakes. (Jacob/Adobe Stock)
Extreme weather due to climate change can exacerbate pollution runoff and toxic algal blooms in the Great Lakes. (Jacob/Adobe Stock)
July 25, 2019

NEW YORK – A coalition of more than 160 local, state and national environmental groups is asking every presidential candidate how he or she will address threats to drinking water supplies for more than 30 million people.

The Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Coalition has released a presidential platform to restore and protect lakes and drinking water for people in New York and seven other states.

According to Brian Smith, associate executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, the federally funded Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has made considerable progress since it was launched 10 years ago, but there still is a lot of work to do.

"We still have toxic hotspots that linger in parts of the Great Lakes,” he points out. “We have beaches that are closed due to high bacteria levels, and we have invasive species that threaten our fishing industry."

The Coalition's five-point platform has been distributed to major party candidates in advance of the next president debate being held in Detroit next week.

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump proposed cutting funding for the initiative by 90% to just $30 million, but then announced his support for $300 million in funding.

Kyle Rorah, acting director of public policy for the group Ducks Unlimited, says that's not enough.

"The Healing Our Waters Coalition is asking candidates who support the Great Lakes to restore funding for the GLRI at the $475 million level, as it was in its initial fiscal year of 2010," he states.

Over the past 10 years, the initiative has invested more than $2.4 billion in more than 4,700 projects throughout the region.

Laura Rubin, director of the Healing Our Waters Coalition, adds that without healthy water Americans cannot have healthy families, healthy communities or healthy economies, so clean drinking water needs to be a top issue in the presidential campaign.

"Every candidate has the responsibility and the moral obligation to explain how they will put an end to toxic water pollution, and how they will clean up drinking water sources like the Great Lakes, and provide clean, safe and affordable drinking water to all Americans," she stresses.

The full Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Coalition presidential platform is online at healthylakes.org.

Disclosure: National Wildlife Federation contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY