Congressman Pete Visclosky today announced that he has secured $1.8 million in federal assistance for two environmental infrastructure projects in Northwest Indiana, and that the Great Lakes
Restoration Initiative, an interagency program to target the most significant problems in the Great Lakes region, such as invasive aquatic species, non-point source pollution, and contaminated sediment, will be funded at $475 million. The funding is all included in the Fiscal Year 2010 Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the conference report today, and the legislation is expected to pass the Senate shortly and be signed into law by the President.
"Executing these projects will create much needed jobs as we improve our environmental infrastructure, raise our quality of life, and lay the foundation for new economic opportunities," said Visclosky. "I am proud to support these efforts to advance environmental education at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, improve Portage's wastewater infrastructure, and restore the Great Lakes. People across Northwest Indiana will benefit from these initiatives."
The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore will receive $1 million to restore Good Fellow Lodge. The funding will be used to install a new municipal water line to the lodge, which would be the first step in a much needed restoration effort to the historically significant structure. The lodge is deteriorating and there is a fear that it will collapse and have to be removed completely. The restoration of the lodge will allow the Indiana Dunes Learning Center to expand its educational programs. This project will help provide valuable hands-on learning experiences that inspire community and environmental stewardship among the citizens of Northwest Indiana. According to figures from the National Park Service , 2.1 million people visit the Lakeshore each year, generating $55.3 million in local revenues.
"Save the Dunes is grateful to Congressman Visclosky for obtaining $1 million to install a new municipal water line to Good Fellow Lodge, part of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. This project will provide safe, clean water for children at the Indiana Dunes Environmental Learning Center and it will provide a water supply in case of fire. In addition, we thank Pete for supporting the $475 million in funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. This funding will set a new direction for protecting and restoring our nation's largest source of freshwater and will help improve the quality of life for residents of Northwest Indiana and the Great Lakes," said Tom Anderson, executive director of Save the Dunes Council.
The City of Portage will receive $800,000 for water infrastructure improvements. The funding will be used to complete the second phase of improvements at the existing water reclamation facility, which includes enhancements to the solids handling infrastructure to accommodate increased biosolids production associated with increased flows. The project will allow economic development in Portage while assuring water quality.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, funded at $475 million, will use outcome-oriented performance goals and measures to target the most significant problems and track progress in addressing them. The interagency initiative will work with state and local governments, as well as industry, to protect, maintain, and restore the chemical, biological, and physical integrity of the Great Lakes. The initiative's long term goals include increasing recreational activity on the lakes, assuring safe drinking water, and providing a healthy ecosystem for fish and wildlife.