Michigan lawmakers looking for $175 million more in Great Lakes funding

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is considered one of the most significant investments made in protecting the Great Lakes. 

The region pulls $300 million in federal dollars from the annual budget. Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters said the Great Lakes faces a myriad of issues, ranging from algal blooms, invasive species, water runoff and beach erosion. 

But those senators also say they need more, and on Belle Isle on a Thursday afternoon they made their pitch for more money.

"What we're looking at is the needs that we have from the continual efforts on Asian carp to what we need to do on water erosion," said Stabenow

They've raised their asking price to $475 million be contributed to the effort. But is that money worth it? Peters' citing research done by the University of Michigan said 'yes'.

"The University of Michigan has done a study that shows for every dollar we invest in Great Lakes restoration, it returns over a 20 year period well in excess of $3 in economic activity," said Peters.

The ask isn't just being lobbied by lawmakers however. Marie McCormick, the executive director of the Friends of the Rouge organization said continual and increased funding is imperative to keeping the water clean. If that doesn't happen, it could have detrimental effects.

"And if we don't continue to invest in the restoration of places like the Rouge River and 
Detroit River, then the economic benefit, the environmental benefit, the social benefit and the quality of life for residents wouldn't be the same," said McCormick.

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Despite budget proposals made by the Trump administration every year since entering office scrapping the funding, lawmakers from across the aisle have pushed the funding forward. Stabenow doesn't agree with the president's characterization of the problem being a local issue.

"That's pretty ridiculous as we know there are eight states and two countries that are involved in protecting the Great Lakes," she said.