Protecting the Great Lakes from nutrient pollution

Apr 21, 2015

Rep. Brian Higgins is introducing legislation to protect the Great Lakes from nutrient contamination.

Lake Erie along Buffalo's Outer Harbor.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Standing at Gallagher Beach along Buffalo's Outer Harbor Tuesday, Higgins announced he will call on Congress to consider the Great Lakes Nutrient Removal Assistance Act. 

"These nutrients are loading into the lakes, the same place where we get our drinking water. The health of these lakes are critical in sustain our own life and our regional economies, and there's no more delay," stated Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper Executive Director Jill Jedlicka.

Higgins says it would provide the U.S. Environmental Protect Agency with funding to upgrade publicly-owned wastewater treatment plants with nutrient removal technology. 

Congressman Brian Higgins and Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper Executive Director Jill Jedlicka appear at Gallagher Beach along the city's Outer Harbor.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

"The federal government would commit a substantial amount of money with a partnership being established with state and municipalities recognizing that we have a mutual objective -- that is to free the lakes or reduce nutrient pollution in the lakes," said Higgins.  

Higgins pointed to the algae blooms in Lake Erie last summer that contaminated drinking water in Toledo, Ohio for a half-a-million people.  Higgins said Lake Erie is particularly susceptible to the harmful algal as one of the shallowest of the Great Lakes.  

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper Executive Director Jill Jedlicka joined Higgins in announce his proposed bill. She also noted how vulnerable the lake is to nutrient pollution.

"These nutrients are loading into the lakes, the same place where we get our drinking water. The health of these lakes are critical in sustain our own life and our regional economies, and there's no more delay," stated Jedlicka.  

Gallagher Beach at Buffalo's Outer Harbor.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Higgins said he is expecting co-sponsorship from members from other Great Lakes cities, but he admits there is a long way to go before passage. The bill calls for $500 million over five years.