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Great Lakes Advocates Rally In Support Of Federal Cleanup Funding

Chuck Quirmbach/WPR

Great Lakes advocates across the Midwest held events in more than 60 cities Monday, as a budget battle nears in Congress. It was part of a publicity effort called “All Hands On Deck.”

Congressional committees may start next week to review President Donald Trump’s plan to zero out funding for a $300 million-per-year cleanup effort called the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

At a rally along Lake Michigan in Fox Point, Cheryl Nenn of advocacy group Milwaukee Riverkeeper, said the money also helps pay for a beach monitoring program.

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“Today, and on the Fourth of July, there’s probably going to be a lot of people at the beach . It’s very important we have sources of funding that goes to state and local governments, so they can test these beaches and make sure they’re safe for us to swim and play,” Nenn said.

The Sierra Club’s Bill Davis said the president is also failing to put enough money into a loan program that helps cities upgrade their sewage treatment plants.

“It may not be sexy, but it’s really, really important, particularly for the Great Lakes, where you have a lot of municipalities that are discharging directly into the lakes,” Davis said, adding that many lakeside communities are on the verge of needing to update their sewage treatment systems.

Trump’s budget proposal calls for money for the Great Lakes to instead be spent on national defense.

Wisconsin rallies backing Great Lakes spending were also scheduled Monday in Marinette, Sheboygan and Racine.