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Coalition: Make Great Lakes a Presidential Priority

Keeping Lake Erie clean is crucial for local recreation, tourism and economic development. (Rona Proudfoot/Flickr)
Keeping Lake Erie clean is crucial for local recreation, tourism and economic development. (Rona Proudfoot/Flickr)
July 26, 2019

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Democratic White House hopefuls will soon square off once again, and they're being asked to explain how they plan to protect Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes.

More than 160 groups are part of the Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Coalition, and they delivered a platform to the candidates this week. Coalition Director Laura Rubin says they want to hear their plans to enforce clean water laws and support funding for Great Lakes programs.

She adds that families, communities and economies in the region depend on healthy water.

"There is not a single issue in this election that is more important than the fact that in 2019 in the United States of America, there are millions of people who do not have access to clean, safe and affordable water for themselves, their families and their children,” says Rubin. “That is unacceptable. "

The Great Lakes are the drinking water source for more than 30 million people, in Ohio and eight other states. The next presidential debates are scheduled for July 30 and 31 in Detroit.

Peter Bucher with the Ohio Environmental Council says the lakes face serious threats, including toxic P-FAS contamination, sewage and invasive species. And he notes next week, Toledo will mark the fifth anniversary of its water crisis caused by a toxic algal bloom in Lake Erie.

"There's still plenty of people up in that part of the state – in southeast Michigan and possibility even Canada, as well – that still don't drink the water because of what happened back in 2014,” says Bucher. “That's got to be the number one issue that's facing Lake Erie, from a water quality perspective."

The Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Coalition platform calls for candidates to support
$475 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative; triple funding to fix drinking water and wastewater infrastructure; and uphold, enforce and strengthen clean water protections.

Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH