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Higgins Advocates for Continued Investment in Protection of the Great Lakes

Feb 27, 2020
Press Release
As Congress Prepares Water Resources Bill, Higgins Calls for Aggressive Action to Address Harmful Algae Blooms

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) testified before the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee urging continued investments in the protection of the Great Lakes.  His remarks come as members of the committee prepare to draft legislation reauthorizing the Water Resources Development Act of 2020.

In his testimony, Higgins said, “I am hopeful that this bill can help prevent communities like mine from seeing progress on water quality reversed due to a lack of readiness to evolving threats to our navigable waterways. Harmful algae blooms are caused by nutrient runoff and exist in all fifty states. Blooms plague the western basin of Lake Erie. In 2014, a bloom near Toledo, Ohio shut down the city’s drinking water for two entire days. In 2019, another algae bloom grew to seven times the size of Cleveland.”

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The Water Resources Development Act authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civil works activities which are focused on: improved navigation, limiting flooding risk and restoring aquatic ecosystems.  

Higgins applauded the work of the Army Corps in Great Lakes and Buffalo River cleanup, “The United States Army Corps of Engineers are the unsung heroes of United States’ infrastructure and economic development. Their continued work on the Buffalo River played a major part in its revitalization from its polluted past.  Which is why today I will highlight the immense impact the Army Corps is poised to have in fighting another threat to our waters, harmful and the rapid increase of algae in Lake Erie. With funding from the Water Resources Development Act, the Corps can deploy innovative technologies to fight this scourge to our environment and communities.”

Late last year, Higgins pushed to expand a successful pilot project addressing Harmful Algal Blooms in Florida’s Lake Okeechobee to the Great Lakes. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ analysis of the HABITATS pilot project stated that 95% of the algae was removed from the water, and that the HABITATS approach offers great promise.

A member of the Great Lakes Task Force, Higgins has been a vocal advocate on federal Great Lakes improvement and protection efforts, and just weeks ago voted to approve a major boost in Great Lakes Restoration Imitative funding.