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Reps. Lipinski, Dold, and Quigley Help Introduce Bipartisan Legislation Protecting Great Lakes (June 25, 2015)

Reps. Dan Lipinski (IL-3), Robert Dold (IL-10), and Mike Quigley (IL-5) recently introduced bipartisan legislation that would end sewage dumping in the Great Lakes and surrounding tributaries by 2035.  The Great Lakes Water Protection Act increases fines to up to $100,000 a day per violation and provides communities 20 years to upgrade their sewage treatment facilities.  A similar bill was unveiled in the U.S. Senate by Illinois Senator Mark Kirk.  

“The Great Lakes are our region’s most precious natural resource and we must do more to protect them,” said Rep. Lipinski.  “We cannot continue to allow the dumping of billions of gallons of raw sewage in the waters we use for drinking, swimming, boating, and fishing.  The penalties will deter dumping and help pay for infrastructure improvements that will help alleviate future dumping.”

“The Great Lakes are truly a shared national treasure, holding 95% of our country's surface fresh water and providing drinking water to over 30 million people,” said Rep. Dold.  “As a scoutmaster, I teach Boy Scouts the principle of leaving areas better than when we found them.  The Great Lakes Water Protection Act is a commonsense, bipartisan solution to fulfill this pledge with one of our country’s greatest natural resources.”

“No one understands the role the Great Lakes play more than the 30 million people who depend on them for their drinking water, jobs, health and way of life,” Rep. Quigley said.  “However, the continued dumping of billions of gallons of combined untreated sewage and storm water is threatening our way of life and will lead to permanent damage if we don’t put a stop to it soon.  I’m proud to join Republicans and Democrats in introducing the Great Lakes Clean Water Bill, which will provide essential solutions to maintain our Great Lakes for generations to come.”

“Thirty million Americans depend on the Great Lakes for drinking and swimming,” Senator Kirk said. “Our crown jewel of the Midwest is not a dumpster for sewage.”

Money collected from fines would flow to a Great Lakes Clean-Up Fund to generate financial resources for the Great Lakes states to improve wastewater treatment systems.  In addition, the legislation would make it easier to assess fines at existing levels beginning a year after the bill's passage.

Cities around the Great Lakes Basin continue to dump directly into the Great Lakes and their tributaries.  Reports estimate that 24 billion gallons of sewage are dumped into the Great Lakes each year, posing environmental, financial, and public health hazards.

The bill is endorsed by the Alliance for the Great Lakes, the Healing Our Waters Coalition, and the Sierra Club.