05.08.20

Peters, Stabenow Provisions Securing Commitments to Protect the Great Lakes and Safeguard Drinking Water Advance to Full Senate

Larger Bill Includes Measures to Prevent Invasive Species, Protect Drinking Water from PFAS and Increase Access to Lead Testing

DETROIT, MI – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (MI) and Debbie Stabenow (MI) announced today that key provisions to protect Michigan’s environment and the Great Lakes advanced this week in the Senate. The provisions – which were included in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020 – include a record $375 million reauthorization of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), an assessment on shoreline protection and resiliency in areas affected by the recent high water levels along the Great Lakes, as well as establishing a cost share for the Brandon Road project, which works to prevent invasive Asian Carp from entering the Great Lakes. The bill also would require the EPA to establish drinking water standard for PFOS and PFOA chemicals.

“The Great Lakes are more than just an economic engine and natural resource for Michigan – they are in our DNA as Michiganders. We need to be doing everything we can to protect them for future generations. That’s why I led the effort to secure the first GLRI funding increase since the program was established – and this bill to allow for record funding builds on those efforts,” said Senator Peters. “This bill includes a number of measures that Senator Stabenow and I fought to include: from addressing the threats of Asian Carp – to forcing the EPA to finally set standards around PFAS chemicals that have hurt communities across Michigan. I urge my colleagues to swiftly pass this bill that would make critical investments to upgrade water infrastructure and keep our water safe.”

“This action is an important step in protecting our Great Lakes and providing clean drinking water for the people of Michigan. Together, these bills address some of the most critical problems impacting our waters including the spread of invasive carp, harmful algal blooms, high water levels and PFAS contamination. I will continue to work with Senator Peters to make sure this important legislation is passed in the entire Senate,” said Senator Stabenow.

The Water Resources Development Act of 2020 includes the following provisions that are critical to Michigan:

Reauthorizing and Allowing for Record Funding of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

  • The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative would be reauthorized through fiscal year 2022 and increase the funding authorization to a record $375 million, enabling this popular program to continue funding more projects around the state and Great Lakes Region. The Senators will continue pushing to extend this program for five years, which they have advocated for previously.

Stopping the Spread of Invasive Asian Carp

  • This provision would secure a great federal commitment for the Brandon Road project to prevent invasive Asian Carp from entering the Great Lakes. It would also require the federal government to invest 75 percent of the cost of the Brandon Road project, reflecting the national importance of the project. This follows a feasibility study conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that assessed the range of options and technologies available to prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species between the Great Lakes and other aquatic pathways.
  • WRDA also includes provisions adding capacity and authorization of funding for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Corps to undertake projects and research to stop the spread of Asian carp and other invasive species that threaten the Great Lakes. 

Enabling Additional Navigation Projects in Michigan

  • Three Michigan projects would receive new project authorization from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
    • A river restoration and flood risk management project in the Upper Rouge River intending to remove concrete infrastructure and restore wetlands and essential fish habitat in Wayne County.
    • Assessing the feasibility of deepening the River Rouge in the Detroit channel to accommodate larger ships and freight;
    • A project to extend dredging of the South Haven Harbor to include the former Turning Basin.

High Water Levels

  • The bill requires the Army Corps of Engineers to undertake a Great Lakes Comprehensive Flood Protection Study, to focus on shoreline protection and resiliency in areas affected by flooding in 2019 due to high lake water levels along the Great Lakes. The bill authorizes $25 million for the assessment.

Lead Testing in Schools

  • Schools and daycare centers will be able to utilize their local water utility to test for lead and harmful chemicals in drinking water, making it easier to gain access to testing and to additional grant funding opportunities.

Protecting Drinking Water from PFAS

  • The Environmental Protection Agency is directed to establish drinking water standards for Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) chemicals in two years. This language is identical to language championed by the Senators in a previous version of the Senate-passed National Defense Authorization Act. The bill also authorizes $300 million in new grants to assist in the remediation of emerging contaminants, with a focus on perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).  

Reducing Harmful Algal Blooms

  • This provision authorizes $25 million for the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a demonstration program to determine the causes of, and how to effectively treat and eliminate harmful algal blooms with the Great Lakes.

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