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Legislation addresses waterway pollution
Congressman Brian Higgins announced passage of H.R. 2008, the Local Water Protection Act, a bill that authorizes $200 million annually in fiscal years 2022 through 2026 for programs that protect this nation’s waterways from runoff pollution.
“We have made significant progress in fighting the first generation of pollution from industries on the shores of the Great Lakes. Now, we must incorporate the second generation, nonpoint source pollution, into our prevention and revitalization strategies,” Higgins said. “The Great Lakes are an incredible resource economically, environmentally and recreationally, and this federal funding will help continue the progress made towards their recovery.”
The bill works to combat nonpoint source water pollution generated when agricultural or urban runoff is carried through rainfall or snowmelt into lakes and rivers. The Environmental Protection Agency points out 70% of Americans live within 2 miles of a polluted coastal area, lake, river or stream. The Niagara River has benefited from this program and is listed among the EPA’s nonpoint sources pollution success stories.
A press release stated, “Nonpoint source water pollution is a current problem in the Great Lakes. Agricultural runoff can produce harmful algal blooms, like those that plague Western Lake Erie. Harmful algal blooms create dead zones in water and are toxic to humans and animals. A bloom has been spotted as close as Presque Isle, near Erie, Pennsylvania, only 90 miles from Buffalo. Higgins pushed for a demonstration project aimed at eliminating harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie to be included in the 2021 budget.”
Higgins, a member of the bipartisan Great Lakes Task Force, announced in January the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act was signed into law, increasing funding for Great Lakes efforts to $475 million by 2026.