Each year, Hoosiers
travel to Washington, D.C., to urge Congress to maintain federal support of
the agencies and programs working to restore and protect Lake Michigan.
This visit is part
of Great Lakes Day, an annual affair sponsored by the Healing Our
Waters-Great Lakes Coalition and the Great Lakes Commission, in which more
than 100 citizens visit Hill offices to underscore the importance of these
natural assets and economic engines.
For more than 10
years, Save the Dunes, a governing member of the Healing Our Waters-Great
Lakes Coalition, has helped recruit and train local community members and
environmental professionals to represent Indiana and to share their personal
message about why the Great Lakes matter.
Great Lakes Day is
scheduled for Thursday, March 5.
“One of the best
things about our region is Lake Michigan,” Save the Dunes Executive Director
Natalie Johnson said. “It is important that we continue to be a positive
voice for its protection as well as for the people who depend on it. This is
achieved by encouraging Congressional leaders to fund the programs and
agencies that keep our waters healthy.”
President Trump’s FY21 budget was released and proposed vast budget cuts
that would lead to the loss of tens of millions of dollars for clean water
programs in the Great Lakes. According to Save the Dunes, the proposed
budget features the following:
--$863 million for
the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund to help communities pay for
drinking water infrastructure: nearly $266 million less than in FY2020 (the
current fiscal year).
--$1.12 billion for
the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to help communities pay for sewer
upgrades and repairs: nearly $500 million less than FY2020;
--An elimination of
$171 million in non-point source pollution grants which the administration
is looking to replace with a new $15 million program to combat toxic algal
--An elimination of
the $25 million EPA grant for small and disadvantaged communities.
--An overall 27
percent cut to the U.S. EPA budget.
--$320 million for
the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to clean up toxic pollution, restore
fish and wildlife habitat, and fight invasive species: the current funding
in the budget.
On Great Lakes Day,
nine Hoosiers will join citizens from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois,
Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York “to speak about the proposed
budget and to encourage federal public officials to increase and/or maintain
important programming and agencies that clean up toxic pollution, reduce the
risk of harmful algal blooms, stops invasive species, and ensures safe and
affordable drinking water for all,” Save the Dunes said.
Save the Dunes
hosts free advocacy trainings for the Indiana Dunes and Lake Michigan on a
regular basis with the recruitment process for Great Lakes Day beginning in
December of each year. To follow the Indiana team’s visit and to learn how
to message locally, visit Facebook.com/savedunes or savedunes.org