U.S. Urges Canada to Spend More on Lakes

The Canadian government is releasing money to clean up some problem areas in the Great Lakes. Although Canada now spends millions of dollars a year on overall cleanup, this additional money would be targeted specifically toward the cleanup of highly polluted areas known as hot spots. It’s probably not a surprise that some environmentalists in Canada don’t think it’s enough money. But the U.S. government also wants Canada to come up with more money to clean up pollution. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:


The Canadian government is releasing money to cleanup some
pollution hot spots in the Great Lakes. It’s probably not a surprise
that some environmentalists in Canada don’t think it’s enough
money. But the U.S. government also wants Canada to come up with
more money to clean up pollution. The Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Lester Graham Reports.

Canada’s environment minister David Anderson recently announced
the equivalent of more than twenty million U.S. dollars would be
available to communities to clean up several badly polluted areas
in the Great Lakes over a five year period. The program is called the
Great Lakes sustainability fund. John Shaw is the manager of the
fund. He says this is extra money to be used to clean up 16 pollution
hot spots called “areas of concern.”

“So we fully expect to be allocating resources across all of the
‘Areas of Concern,’ working with the municipalities and the province to improve sewage
treatment plant effluent, control stormwater and combined sewer overflows, rehabilitate fish and
wildlife habitat, as well as work with the landowners in watersheds and that would include
agricultural operations to improve their environmental quality and how they manage things.”

While other money will be spent on the lakes. The Great Lakes
Sustainability Fund is the bulk of environment Canada’s efforts to
clean up the nation’s heavily polluted “areas of concern” in the
Great Lakes.

Environmentalists in Canada say the money is long overdue. They
point out this is not new money but replacement money. John
Bennett is with the Sierra Club Canada. He says the 20-million
dollars restores funds that were cut by parliament in the mid-1990’s.

“It’s a very good sign to see that Mr. Anderson and the federal
government is now getting back into funding this work. It’s really up to the
provincial government now to get in and match the fund.”

Bennett says 20-million dollars is nice but really it’s just a drop in
the Great Lakes.

“It’s still not enough to meet the problems. You know, the
Great Lakes is the most important body of water in North America and Canada is
willing to spend 20-million dollars U.S. to keep it clean? I don’t think it’s enough.”

But the Canadian government says its Great Lakes Sustainability
Fund is just the start. The fund’s manager, John Shaw, says matching
money from municipal and provincial governments can triple the
amount to be spent on pollution cleanup in the “areas of concern.”

“I guess there’s always a desire to have more, but I think the
important thing with the Fund is that we can fund approximately a third of
the project and look for two-thirds of the funding from the other partnerships.”

Across the border meanwhile…the US government would like to see
the Canadian government pay a lot more for cleanup of the “areas
of concern.” While the Canadian federal government is putting up 20-
million dollars over five years. The Environmental Protection
Agency is asking for two-and-a half times that much each year to
clean up the pollution hot spots on the U.S. side of the border. Carol
Browner is the EPA’s administrator.

“We would welcome any financial-enhanced commitment that
Canada would make in this arena. I think that it is clear that the
United States has been leading the way in terms of financial commitment,
seeking in just one budget year alone an additional 50-million dollars for cleanup
in the Great Lakes. We would like to see an equal partnership.”

However before Browner will boast too much about the US money
to clean up the “areas of concern”. She points out congress has not
approved it and, in fact, its future doesn’t look good.

Meanwhile an organization that represents the eight Great Lakes
states says the 20-million over five years from Canada and the
proposed 50-million a year from the US should only be viewed as a
first step to cleanup the Great Lakes’ problem spots. Michael
Donahue is the executive director of the
Great Lakes Commission.

“I think we’d be kidding ourselves if we thought that this was a
one-time fix. I think what it is a, uh— should be viewed, hopefully, as
the first of many commitments to work in partnership with the provinces and
with the U.S. state and federal governments to get the job done over a period of time.”

In fact just last month a commission that monitors whether the US
and Canadian governments are keeping their commitments to a
water quality agreement between the two nations reported the two
governments had to step up their efforts. It warned if they don’t
there can be little hope of fully restoring and protecting The

For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Lester Graham.