Dirty water needs CleanTech solutions

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U. of Wisc. photo

U. of Wisc. photo

Depending on where you live, the Great Lakes may seem far from local.

But they hold 84 percent of the freshwater in North America. So if you ever get thirsty, you might want to pay attention.

President Barack Obama has proposed $475 million in funding for a Great Lakes restoration in his Fiscal Year 2010 budget. It would be a downpayment on a $5 billion campaign promise.

The money would go to target problems like invasive species, non-point source pollution and contaminated sediment, according to a copy of the proposal. Another $1 billion could be channeled to the eight-state region for sewer and drinking water system upgrades, the Associated Press reports. All of these are Clean Tech projects.

How many jobs are we talking? Every billion dollars invested in clean water infrastructure is estimated to generate 47,000 jobs, according to the Great Lakes Commission. See a pdf called “Great Lakes, Great Jobs,” for more.

Are the Great Lakes really in peril? Consider this: Climate change has contributed to decades of low water levels, algal blooms have returned with a vengeance, aquatic invasive species have transformed the ecosystem and certain fisheries are collapsing. There’s not even a good system yet for keeping ocean-going ships from bringing in new species in their ballast water, experts say. It’s another Clean Tech project ripe for the picking.

Environmental groups say the lakes need a lot more investment than $475 million, or $5 billion, based on a four-year-old, $20 billion-plus strategy crafted by the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration. But it’s the first time a president has made a serious effort to begin paying for the strategy, notes the National Wildlife Federation.

The Brookings Institution has estimated the long-term economic benefits of a full restoration at about $50 billion, or double the investment, by the way.

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  • harmonsmith

    I have some ideas. I think the biggest source of water pollution is Industries. Who are releasing large amount of hazardous waste into our water resources. In order to do proper treatment of this waste water consultant like JNB must be contacted. About the waste that are producing through our daily usage. I think ordinary peoples are not a selfish as our bureaucrats. We can control it by spreading knowledge about it. Agriculture pollution is also a major problem. By using proper methods we can control it. Imagine a world for our future generations if it continues. I agree things are better in USA or other European countries but In Asian countries it is worst and since countries is in this world we should also consider them. We are the one who are responsible for destroying our world and we have to make it better