Water Infrastructure Advocacy
Aging and degraded water infrastructure increasingly threatens access to safe Great Lakes water. The Great Lakes Commission’s advocacy program promotes federal programs, policies and funding that help states, provinces and local communities improve and manage all water infrastructure—drinking water, stormwater and wastewater—and endeavors to remove barriers and promote approaches that ensure the region’s water infrastructure is resilient and operates effectively in all stages of the water cycle.
Provide adequate funding for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund programs to enable states and local communities to upgrade, repair and replace drinking water and wastewater infrastructure and ensure it operates effectively, is resilient to impacts from climate change, and protects human health from threats such as lead in drinking water lines, toxic algae, and sewage overflows from failing or overburdened wastewater systems. Federal agencies should collaborate with state and local agencies to strengthen standards and monitoring practices to detect toxic algae and safeguard drinking water supplies.
To be determined
Aging and degraded water infrastructure (for drinking water, wastewater treatment and stormwater management) increasingly threatens reliable access to safe and secure Great Lakes water resources. Failing wastewater infrastructure continues to release sewage and polluted stormwater into local waterways every year, contaminating Great Lakes beaches, threatening public health and damaging local economies. Similarly, aging drinking water infrastructure is a costly challenge for many communities, as illustrated by threats to drinking water in Toledo, Ohio, from toxic algae in Lake Erie, and in Flint, Michigan, from lead contamination from aging water pipes. Water and wastewater infrastructure challenges are exacerbated by climate change impacts, such as increased runoff caused by more severe and frequent storm events that lead to increased flooding, sanitary and storm sewer overflows, and risks to public health and the health of the Great Lakes.
Significant and continued funding for water infrastructure modernization is the only way to ensure the safe and sustainable supply and management of water resources for continued protection of communities, businesses, industries and the environment from development impacts, pollution, climate change and other stressors.
As water-related investments move forward, there are significant opportunities to use green infrastructure and to better integrate water resource management to improve efficiency, lower costs and enhance the quality and quantity water resources. Using natural features aligned with the hydrologic cycle, promoting water conservation and managing water infrastructure on a watershed basis can reduce costs, provide added benefits, and increase resiliency to impacts from climate change and other challenges.
The Great Lakes Commission is promoting enhanced coordination among agencies responsible for drinking water supply, wastewater management and stormwater management to improve integration of these programs; implement sustainable water use policies, programs and practices; establish long-term funding mechanisms for water infrastructure that incorporate water conservation/efficiency and green infrastructure; develop shared goals and gather information to track progress; and advance regulatory and non-regulatory approaches to integrated water management on a watershed basis.
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Great Lakes Commission