Shared from the 6/20/2019 Sandusky Register eEdition

New water bill benefits Lake Erie


Gulls settle on Lake Erie in March in Huron. Rep. Marcy Kaptur says the new House water bill has provisions to benefit harbors in Lake Erie and protect the lake.

Register photo/ERIN CALDWELL


The U.S. House approved a water and energy bill Wednesday that U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur said has important provisions to protect Lake Erie.

Kaptur, a Toledo Democrat, said the Fiscal Year 2020 funding bill for energy, water and related agencies has provisions to battle algal blooms in Lake Erie and prevent the spread of Asian carp into the Great Lakes. Kaptur is a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, a post that gave her a chance to shape the legislation.

The measure, which was approved in the House 221-203 on a party line vote, now goes to the Senate for action.

Appropriations bills originate in the House, said Kaptur’s spokesman, Griffin Anderson. While no Republicans voted for final approval, the bill is part of a larger measure that included many bipartisan provisions, he said.

Kaptur, whose district stretches along Lake Erie from Toledo to Cleveland, said the bill has provisions that help her constituents.

“This legislation invests in the long-term economic and environmental success of Great Lakes region, including reining in the spread of deadly algal blooms in Lake Erie and preventing Asian Carp from taking hold in the Great Lakes. The negative economic and environmental impact these species have on Lake Erie and its coastal communities cannot be overstated, and this legislation will help protect our $7 billion fishing industry and equally important tourism industry,” Kaptur said in a news release issued by her office.

“This bill also provides $290 million for the Weatherization Assistance Program, $36 million above 2019, which helps low-income households across this country, including in northern Ohio, sufficiently weatherize their homes, cut down on energy costs, and keep themselves and their families safe. The bill also restricts the Army Corps of Engineers from disposing of sediment collected from the Toledo and Cleveland Harbors in Lake Erie,” she said.

Kaptur said the bill includes these provisions:

n A $7.36 billion appropriation for the Army Corps of Engineers, a hike of $357 million over this year, includes additional funding for environmental restoration projects.

Kaptur said that should help provide funding for the recently announced Brandon Road project to contain Asian carp. The project, near Chicago, is a series of barriers designed to prevent Asian carp from spreading from the Mississippi River basin into Lake Michigan.

n The Corps also gets $100 million for environmental infrastructure projects, a $23 million increase, for projects such as stormwater collection and recycled water distribution. Ohio got $7 million under the program this year.

n The Corps of Engineers section of the bill also includes about $1.7 billion for harbor maintenance, a $147 million hike. Kaptur said Great Lakes projects get about 13 percent of the money.

n Funding for the Department of the Interior also increases funding for water resources projects, including additional funding for rural water projects.

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