The federal government–in partnership with the states, provinces, counties and municipalities–is uniquely positioned to play a leading role in helping to: 1) restore Great Lakes water quality; 2) prevent and control non-native invasive species; and 3) clean up concentrated toxic pollution.
Below are the priority actions the U.S. government must undertake immediately to heal the wounds inflicted on the Great Lakes over the past decades, and prevent permanent harm to these vital, vibrant and vulnerable waters.
Restore Great Lakes Water Quality
- Provide new funding–managed in partnership with contributions from the states–to support environmentally sound infrastructure, improve monitoring and evaluation, increase state and federal capacity and restore habitat.
- Shift and target current federal funding to better benefit the Great Lakes.
- Significantly reduce airborne pollution from mercury and other pollutants.
- Protect and restore wetland and other vital habitat.
- Adopt appropriate water quality indicators, implement a comprehensive monitoring program and fully enforce standards.
Prevent and Control Non-Native Invasive Species
- Ensure that those who introduce new invasive species are held accountable.
- Review all planned importations of live organisms and ban those that pose an environmental risk to the Great Lakes.
- Set a date to ban all shipping practices of ocean-going vessels that are likely to introduce new aquatic invasive species into the Great Lakes ecosystem.
- Develop and implement a plan to restore the Great Lakes from damage caused by established invasive species.
Clean Up Concentrated Toxic Pollution
- Provide the necessary funding and direction to completely clean up and restore the 31 “Areas of Concern” the U.S. government identified seventeen years ago.
The Healing Our Waters Agenda for Great Lakes Restoration also calls on the federal government to provide increased public education nationwide on the consequences of degrading the Great Lakes, and the value of their restoration. The Report recommends that the federal government consider creating a “Great Lakes National Conservation Area” within the National Parks System.