Senator Kirk Confronts $2.4 Million in Annual Cost of Great Lakes Pollution

24 Billion Gallons of Sewage and Storm Water Dumped into Great Lakes Annually

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CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–August 1, 2014.  U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, today highlighted his ongoing efforts to preserve clean water, prevent sewage dumping and minimize beach closures across the Great Lakes.

In 2013, Sen. Kirk, along with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), introduced S. 571, the Great Lakes Water Protection Act, which would set a date certain to end sewage dumping in the Great Lakes and provide greater transparency regarding sewage discharge events. The Great Lakes Water Protection Act would increase fines to $100,000 a day per violation for those who dump and provide communities 20 years to make necessary upgrades to their infrastructure. Currently, fines are capped at $37,500 per day. Sen. Kirk recently testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works in support of this legislation.

Sen. Kirk was joined Friday by Michelle Parker, Shedd Aquarium Vice President, Great Lakes and Sustainability; and Lyman Welch, Alliance for the Great Lakes Water Quality Program Director.

“The Great Lakes are the crown jewel of the Midwest, and as the Senator from Illinois I am committed to ensuring the Lakes are not polluted with sewage,” Sen. Kirk said. “Our water supply and our beaches must remain clean and safe from toxins.”

Beach closures cost taxpayers an estimated $2.4 million annually, according to a study by the University of Chicago. An estimated 24 billion gallons of combined untreated sewage and storm water are dumped into the Great Lakes each year, contributing to hundreds of beach closures and threatening the drinking water for more than 30 million Americans.

There are more than 50 public Lake Michigan beaches in Illinois, and every year high levels of harmful pathogens, like E.coli, cause hundreds of beach closures and contamination advisories, costing the local economy millions of dollars. Between 2012 and 2013, Illinois Lake Michigan beaches experienced nearly 700 closures and advisories.

Sens. Kirk and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) co-chair the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, a bipartisan organization that works to enhance and protect the environmental health of the Great Lakes. More information about Sen. Kirk’s efforts on the Senate Great Lakes Task Force can be found here.

Source: kirk.senate.gov