WSW: Prioritizing And Paying For Great Lakes Projects

Aug 21, 2017

Credit U.S. Geological Survey

There’s a long wish list of Great Lakes projects and advocates want federal money to help pick up the tab. Gary Wilson who reports for says that will mean political battles over who pays and how much.

Wilson, a contributor to Detroit Public Television’s Great Lakes Bureau says the proposal to eliminate funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and keeping Asian Carp out of the lakes have taken all the air out of the room. But he says officials also want a new ice breaker for the Great Lakes, which costs about $200-million. Wilson says a new lock for Sault St. Marie will cost about $600-million. He says that has wide support because it’s needed for the shipping industry.

Wilson says funding for Great Lakes Restoration appears safe for now. But he says it doesn’t mean that there won’t be intense debates over funding for other Great Lakes projects. The Army Corps of Engineers has issued a report known as the Brandon Road study designed to keep Asian Carp from reaching the Great Lakes. It would cost $275-million. Wilson says states would be on hook for about $96-million, plus maintenance costs. He says the question is do all states contribute equally? Or do states closer to Lake Michigan, most at immediate risk of carp, pay more? Wilson says that will be complicated by elections for governor and U.S. Senate in many Great Lakes states next year.