Energy / Great Lakes

Great Lakes fund has aided Ohio’s algae fight, river cleanup

In this Aug. 3, 2014, file photo, the water intake crib for the city of Toledo, Ohio, is surrounded by an algae bloom on Lake Erie, about 2.5 miles off the shore of Curtice, Ohio. (Haraz N. Ghanbari, File/Associated Press)

TOLEDO — “A Great Lakes cleanup program that may be on the Trump administration’s chopping block has plunked money into fighting Lake Erie’s toxic algae and putting new life into Ohio’s polluted rivers.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative also has spent millions on cleaning up beaches and restoring wetlands that filter pollutants along the lake shore. In all, Ohio has received just over $200 million in federal funding from the program since 2011.

But that funding could dry up soon, according to a draft of the Environmental Protection Agency budget proposal obtained by The Associated Press.

Under the tentative plan from the Office of Management and Budget, several programs would see steep cuts and money for the Great Lakes initiative would be all but eliminated.

President Donald Trump’s budget isn’t set yet and any final plan to cut the Great Lakes money would need congressional approval. Both Republicans and Democrats from those states along the lakes are poised to fight any steep cuts.

Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler said this past week that while the Great Lakes funding is important, discussions about its future should include making sure the money is spent on priority issues for the state — the big one being improving Lake Erie’s water quality.”

— John Seewar, Associated Press

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