U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget made headlines this week. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) budget is slated for a 31% budget cut. The Great Lakes region could be affected, with a proposed 97% cut to programs that protect the largest freshwater system on earth.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is one example of a program that could be cut. It has typically received about $300 million a year since its establishment in 2009. In total, $2.2 billion has been spent on more than 2,000 restoration and protection projects, ranging from combatting the establishment of Asian carp to preventing nutrient runoff that feeds harmful algal blooms.
We’re keeping our eye on beach water quality monitoring programs, too. The 2018 budget could eliminate $10-million in grants for water quality monitoring across the country.
Here’s how the budget reads: “Eliminates funding for specific regional efforts such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Chesapeake Bay, and other geographic programs. These geographic program eliminations are $427 million lower than the 2017 annualized CR levels. The Budget returns the responsibility for funding local environmental efforts and programs to State and local entities, allowing EPA to focus on its highest national priorities.”
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper received many calls from the media this week. Here’s a roundup of what we said:
New York Times: Canadians Fear Trump’s Budget Will Devastate Great Lakes
Mark Mattson, president of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, an environmental advocacy group based in Toronto, said the proposed elimination of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative would threaten the region’s $7-billion fishery. The cuts would end infrastructure plans to prevent the spread of the Asian carp, an invasive species brought to the United States 40 years ago to eat algae. It has destroyed numerous fisheries and is making its way toward the Great Lakes.
“We’re at a crossroads,” Mr. Mattson said. “Canada is going to have to lead by example and show the U.S. this isn’t the right direction.”
Krystyn Tully, co-founder of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, a Canadian water charity working to protect Lake Ontario and the Great Lakes, is worried the cuts, if real, could lead to a reduction in water quality in the regions that border the Great Lakes.
“The Great Lakes,” says Krystyn, “is one of the few regions in the world where the drinking water that we get from our taps comes from lakes where we also [put] our waste water, so the quality of the water is more important here than almost anywhere else.
“We need a higher standard of protection. We need more investment in water quality.”
With 90 per cent of coastal marshland wiped out in urban areas and bacteria rates from stormwater and sewage pollution in Toronto Harbour spiking, the lake is at a crossroads says Krystyn Tully, the charity’s vice president.
“We need to be investing more money in more restoration, not cutting money and hoping for the best,” Tully said.
Hamilton Spectator: The Spectator’s View: Trump’s plan is an assault on the Great Lakes
As Krystyn Tully, co-founder of the charity Lake Ontario Waterkeeper puts it: "The Great Lakes is one of the few regions in the world where the drinking water that we get from our taps comes from lakes where we also [put] our waste water, so the quality of the water is more important here than almost anywhere else. We need a higher standard of protection. We need more investment in water quality."