Kirk op-ed article calls for keeping Great Lakes clean
U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) called for immediate action to keep the Great Lakes free of harmful waste and ensure clean drinking water for over 30 million Americans in an opinion article published Sept. 9 in the Milwaukee Journal.
"An estimated 24 billion gallons of untreated sewage and stormwater are dumped into the Great Lakes every year," Kirk wrote. "We must push forward efforts to clean up Lake Michigan and not focus on half measures that endanger our drinking water and one of America's most precious natural resources. This threat to our clean water highlights the need for continued planning, investment of resources and infrastructure updates to properly manage wastewater and protect our natural resources."
Kirk also said the public health and economic consequences of dumping polluted wastewater into lakes are substantial.
"According to analyses by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that across the United States, between 1.8 and 3.5 million people get sick each year from swimming in waters contaminated by inadequately treated sewage," Kirk wrote. "As a proud defender of the Great Lakes, I worked earlier this year to prioritize the inclusion of the Great Lakes Water Protection Act, which bans sewage dumping into the lakes. This legislation gives communities 20 years to make the necessary upgrades to their infrastructure before fines are increased from $37,500 to $100,000 a day per violation. The money collected from fines would flow into a Great Lakes Clean-Up Fund."