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Great Lakes Commission Pushes for Infrastructure Investments

photo of Great Lakes

Aging infrastructure in the Great Lakes region affects the availability of safe drinking water and the ability of ships to navigate the lakes. President Trump campaigned on improving the country’s infrastructure, and one organization wants the needs of the Great Lakes at the top of the administration’s list.

The Great Lakes Commission, which represents interests across the region, releases a list of priorities to the U.S. and Canadian governments annually. But this year, t he list came out just two days after the president used a part of his address to Congress to stress the importance of these rebuilding projects.

“There’s greater interest at the national level right now than I’ve seen in a long time,” said Matt Doss, policy director at the commission. “That’s very encouraging.”

Doss says this year’s list is more detailed because of this national support for infrastructure.

“We kind of wanted to strike while this issue was hot, get our ideas out there, and make sure that the water infrastructure needs here in the Great Lakes region are a part of that discussion and are on the table.”

In addition to the president, Senate Democrats recently announced a trillion-dollar infrastructure proposal.

The commission recommends rebuilding water and navigation systems, including a more than $100 billion investment to repair drinking water infrastructure, like lead contaminated water lines.

Doss said the cost of the projects will be a challenge.

“We need the political momentum behind us so that our elected officials can figure that out, so that our members of Congress can work with the states to identify those critical projects, to identify the best financing mechanisms, and to get this work done.”  

Great Lakes Today is a collaboration of WBFO Buffalo, ideastream, and WXXI Rochester.