Great Lakes Advocates Urge Lawmakers To 'Go Big' On Budget, Jobs Plan

Advocates for the Great Lakes see President Biden’s budget and jobs plan as an opportunity to boost funding for restoration projects and outdated water infrastructure in the region. But, the president’s proposals face significant hurdles from Republicans and some moderate Democrats over plans to increase taxes and spending.

Biden’s $6 trillion budget would set aside $3.6 billion to upgrade water infrastructure across the nation for public water supplies, schools and homes. State revolving loan funds that help communities repair drinking and wastewater systems would see funding increase by $464 million.

The budget would also boost funding for a federal Great Lakes cleanup program by $10 million from $330 million to $340 million. Biden’s proposal would also fund design and construction preparation of an $831 million plan to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. The invasive fish threatens the Great Lakes' $7 billion fishing industry and $16 billion recreational boating industry.

"We have a historic opportunity before us, and it's important that we seize the day to protect drinking water, health, jobs and the quality of life of millions of people in the Great Lakes region and across the country," said Laura Rubin, director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition.

In a conference call with reporters Thursday, Rubin said the budget and jobs plan could be a "game changer" for protecting the Great Lakes and addressing climate change.

Biden’s jobs plan would invest $2 trillion in infrastructure that would provide $111 billion to address water systems, replace lead services lines and address so-called forever chemicals known as PFAS. The budget includes around $75 million to help speed up research that would guide efforts to set standards for the chemicals in drinking water. 

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