WASHINGTON, D.C. — Nearly $1 billion in federal funding will soon make its way to the Great Lakes, focusing on securing clean drinking water for millions of people and improving Wisconsin’s overall environmental footprint.
The bulk of the investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will be used to clean up and restore “severely environmentally degraded regions,” known as areas of concern or AOCs.
Locally, that covers cleaning major amounts of sediment along the Milwaukee River, in particular the 3.1 miles downstream of the North Avenue Dam.
“It's going to allow the most significant restoration in the Great Lakes in the history of the Great Lakes. We're going to accelerate cleanup of sites across six states in the Great Lakes Basin from Duluth, Minnesota, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Gary, Indiana, Buffalo, New York and everywhere in between,” said President Joe Biden.
While a specific timeline is still being worked out, the Environmental Protection Agency anticipates that the most significant work in our area will be completed by 2030.
Senator Tammy Baldwin called the move more than just an environmental goal, but an economic necessity for the state of Wisconsin.
“By cleaning up toxic pollution, this investment will improve the health and well-being of Wisconsin families and boost jobs, tourism and recreation across the state,” said Sen. Baldwin.
Once the sediment is removed, EPA leaders say there is still work to be done, including wildlife habitat restoration.
Another point of interest is workforce training for people who live in the impacted areas, in order to help address the problems created in these underserved communities.