COLUMBUS — Groups that fight for clean, affordable water are speaking out in favor of President Joe Biden’s proposed budget, which would put billions of dollars into water-related projects in the Great Lakes region. The American Jobs Plan proposes millions more for the area.
Laura Rubin, director of the Healing our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, said big problems require big solutions.
“Toxic pollution continues to threaten the health of our communities. Sewage contamination continues to close our beaches. Harmful algal blooms continue to harm tourism and small businesses,” Rubin outlined. “And climate change is exacerbating many of these threats, especially flooding.”
Opponents of the Biden proposals complain about their high price tags. The coalition estimated estimated over the next 20 years , Ohio will need $27 billion to modernize wastewater and drinking-water systems.
The Biden plan would increase the budget for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by $10 million, and give the Environmental Protection Agency an extra $2 billion to allow for greater oversight of polluters.
The American Jobs Plan, otherwise known as the infrastructure bill, would dedicate an additional $111 billion to protecting water quality over the next eight years.
Chad Lord, policy director for the Coalition, said it would be a big boost for environmental justice.
“These investments will help eliminate toxic lead service lines into people’s homes, accelerate progress in fixing the nation’s drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, and provide much-needed investments to help communities that have been most harmed by pollution,” Lord contended.
From 2009 to 2017, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative spent $246 million on more than three hundred projects in Ohio alone, including cleaning up toxic pollution, mapping harmful algal bloom outbreaks and restoring wetlands and marshes. More information is online at healthylakes.org.