Cleaning up Great Lakes all around good idea


by Nora Ferrell, September 16, 2009 • After years of neglect, the Great Lakes are finally getting the attention they deserve. Thanks to engaged Minnesota legislators, the Healing Our Waters Coalition, and a President who knows the value of this national treasure–the Great Lakes and Minnesota’s beautiful Lake Superior shoreline are one step closer to comprehensive restoration and clean up.

President Obama recently announced $475 million in his budget for Great Lakes Restoration. But, the work isn’t done yet. Minnesotans and Midwesterners alike need to continue to fight for the fresh water resource. The lakes require billions of dollars to upgrade sewage  infrastructure, stave off invasive species like the zebra mussel, restore wetlands and clean up toxic pollution. Although some money was included in the recovery bill to address sewage issues, billions more are needed, and Great Lakes states and elected officials must stay involved in the fight for funding.

Hindsight is the official blog of Minnesota 2020. Hindsight gives the run down on the news that jumps out at us on the issues that matter. Often times these stories show us how much further we need to go to have the progressive policy realized in Minnesota.

Our very own Rep. Oberstar spoke about the urgent issues facing the Great Lakes at the 5th  annual Great Lakes restoration conference held  in Duluth this year. “The responsibility we have is to pass this water on to the next generation in better shape than we found it,” he said. Agreed! And we have a lot of work to do.

According to an Associated Press story yesterday, cleaning up the 43 federally-designated Areas of Concern (AOCs)–places around the Great Lakes that are polluted with dangerous toxics–is seriously behind schedule.

One of these AOCs is right here in Minnesota. The St. Louis River, the largest U.S. tributary to gorgeous Lake Superior, suffers from decades of industrial pollution, decimated wetlands, abandoned hazardous waste sites, and surface runoff.

The federal government and the state of Minnesota must work together to ensure comprehensive clean up of the St. Louis River. A healthier river means a healthier lake, and a healthier lake means economic benefits all around.

The Brookings Institution released a report that found that restoring the Great Lakes could bring more than $50 billion in economic growth to the Great Lakes region, and nearly $300 million to Duluth alone.

Now those are some numbers we should all be able to get behind.