The Great Lakes – more than just an economic engine

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters announced yesterday that they have secured a major increase in federal funding to dredge and maintain federal Great Lakes harbors in the final Water Resources Development Act.

The 2020 Water Resources Development Act continues the lawmakers’ commitment to ensuring funding in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund is used to dredge and maintain Michigan’s ports, harbors, and waterways.

It requires the Army Corps to allocate 13% of all money appropriated from the Trust Fund to the Great Lakes – up from 10% under current law.

In addition, the legislation calls for the Great Lakes to receive at least 13% of the $10 billion that was collected but remains idle in the Trust Fund. 

This increase in the percentage designated for the Great Lakes should mean hundreds of millions in new funding to address the backlog of dredging and harbor maintenance needs.

In the 2014 Water Resources Development Act, Stabenow and Peters were instrumental in requiring that by fiscal year 2025, all funding in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund must be spent on its intended purpose of supporting federally authorized harbors and waterways.

They were also successful in guaranteeing that 10% of this Trust Fund money go to the Great Lakes.

As funding for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund increases, an increase in this guarantee means Great Lakes funding will also increase by millions of dollars to dredge Michigan harbors and to maintain aging maritime infrastructure. 

“Maintaining our harbors, ports and waterways is critically important to Michigan’s economy and supports thousands of jobs. While our ultimate goal must be to ensure that every dollar in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund is used to support our federal harbors and waterways, this significant increase will help address a backlog of more than $500 million in dredging and maintenance needs,” said Senator Stabenow. 

“The Great Lakes are more than just an economic engine and natural resource for Michigan – they are in our DNA as Michiganders,” added Senator Peters. 

“Senator Stabenow and I fought for these measures because they help Michigan – from addressing the threats of Asian carp to maintaining our Great Lakes ports that are critical to the economies of communities across our state.

“I urge my colleagues to swiftly pass these provisions that will keep our Great Lakes safe and protected for future generations.”

Photo: USACE