Great Lakes ‘blue water economy’ plan calls for federal investment

Published 7:48 am Wednesday, January 14, 2009

By Staff
LANSING – Lt. Governor John D. Cherry, Jr. and Michigan's Office of the Great Lakes on Tuesday unveiled the MI-Great Lakes Plan – a blueprint for the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes and Michigan waterways.
The MI-Great Lakes Plan includes specific recommendations for federal investments totaling more than $3 billion annually.
"Protecting and restoring Michigan waterways is essential to our economic transformation," said Cherry.
"By investing in the Great Lakes, we will sustain and improve our quality of life, make Michigan more attractive to talented workers and new businesses and create jobs."
As outlined in the MI-Great Lakes Plan, the state will seek federal investments that include:
$54 million for the Great Lakes Legacy Act to insure continued cleanup of contaminated sediments;
$3.8 million annually for the BEACH Act to prevent beach closures and protect human health;
Restoring the historic funding level of $1.35 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund so communities can reinvest in necessary improvements to their water and sewer systems.
The Michigan Office of the Great Lakes facilitated the development of the MI-Great Lakes Plan in collaboration with businesses and advocacy groups such as the Michigan United Conservation Clubs and the Healing Our Waters Coalition, as well as tribal representatives and more than 2,000 individuals who participated in reviewing and commenting on the plan at more than 20 public meetings.
Participants in the process will continue to be involved through the formation of implementation teams that will work to put the recommendations into action.
"The MI-Great Lakes Plan is built from the ground-up based on the experiences, challenges and needs of communities across Michigan," said Ken DeBeaussaert, director of the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes.
"The recommendations in the plan reflect approaches that have already succeeded in creating jobs and improving water quality and apply those approaches to meeting the challenge of long-term sustainability of our waterways and economic recovery."
The MI-Great Lakes Plan includes economic analysis by the Brookings Institution and Michigan Sea Grant, which estimates that recommended federal investments will yield tangible benefits to Michigan in the range of $7 billion to $13 billion.
"Michigan's economic recovery and our future prosperity depend on protecting our waterways," said Cherry. "We have a president-elect from the Great Lakes region."