Bipartisan Effort Toward Great Lakes Cleanup
January 23, 2011
In a bipartisan, bicameral effort, four Illinois members of Congress are coming together to push a bill in an effort to stop the dumping of sewage in the Great Lakes.
The Great Lakes Water Protection Act would increase fines up to $100,000 a day per violation for those that dump sewage in the lakes. Fines are currently capped at $37,500 per day.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), U.S. Sen. Mark S. Kirk (R-Ill.), U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Western Springs) and U.S. Rep. Robert Dold (R-Kenilworth) are backing the legislation.
They say the $100,000 fine would run through 2031, giving communities that currently dump into the Great Lakes, or have septic seepage issues, 20 years to upgrade their sewage treatment infrastructure. Money collected from fines would go into a Great Lakes cleanup fund to generate financial resources for those upgrades.
Detroit, Mich., according to Kirk, has been one of the worst offenders, dumping an estimated 12 billion gallons of sewage into the Great Lakes annually. Research by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency showed 30 communities contain a total of 347 combined sewer outflow (CSO) outfalls that discharge into the Lake Michigan basin. A CSO is defined as the discharge of a sewer system before making it to a treatment facility.
"We can't allow the dumping of billions of gallons of raw sewage into the same waters that we use for drinking, swimming, boating and fishing," Lipinski said. "We need to deter polluters while investing in projects that improve water quality and this bill accomplishes that."
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