09.27.17

Senate Approves Peters’ Bipartisan Legislation to Combat Harmful Algal Blooms in the Great Lakes

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Senate unanimously approved bipartisan legislation U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) helped introduce to protect the Great Lakes from harmful algae blooms. The Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act will reauthorize ongoing efforts to combat the negative impacts harmful algal blooms have on drinking water, recreation, and fisheries. Peters introduced the legislation with Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Bill Nelson (D-FL).

“The Great Lakes provide drinking water to over 40 million people and are the center of Michigan’s multi-billion dollar fishing, shipping and tourism industries,” said Senator Peters, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard. “This bipartisan legislation will continue providing the necessary resources to address harmful algal blooms and the significant burdens they place on coastal communities in Michigan and across the country and ensure the Great Lakes are protected for future generations.”

Harmful algal blooms regularly threaten Lake Erie’s ecosystem and local drinking water supplies. Lake Erie is the water source for the South County Water District, which provides drinking water to southern Monroe County, Michigan. In August 2014, nearly 30,000 customers in Monroe County were affected by a water use ban due to contaminants from toxins produced by algal blooms in Lake Erie.

The Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act:

  • Reauthorizes the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act, which has served as the primary federal tool to combat algae blooms since its enactment in 1998, through Fiscal Year 2022;
  • Adds the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the Federal Task Force on Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia, which is responsible for addressing federal response to algae bloom incidents; and
  • Requires a scientific assessment report submitted to Congress on marine and freshwater harmful algae blooms, including in the Great Lakes.

Earlier this year, Senator Peters, a member the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, cosponsored legislation to reauthorize the Integrated Oceans Observing System (IOOS), a national and regional network of scientists and researchers that tracks critical information about the health of the Great Lakes and the nation’s coasts and oceans. The IOOS, along with its regional partner the Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS), uses this data to combat environmental threats like harmful algal blooms, promote health and safety of the Great Lakes, and support maritime commerce and transportation.