Congresswoman Gwen Moore Announces $1 Billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Funding to Speed the Clean Up of Great Lakes Areas of Concern Including Milwaukee’s Estuary

Congresswoman Gwen Moore Announces $1 Billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Funding to Speed the Clean Up of Great Lakes Areas of Concern Including Milwaukee’s Estuary

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is directing $1 billion in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding provided through the bipartisan infrastructure law to accelerate the cleanup of Areas of Concerns in the Great Lakes, including in Milwaukee. This funding will help bring economic growth while safeguarding the public health of communities surrounding affected Great Lakes communities.

“The Great Lakes is an important constituent of mine and I have worked continuously to protect this economic powerhouse and regional treasure that we know and love.  That is why I have been working to support funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, created under the Obama Administration, and now being strengthened by the Biden Administration. This bipartisan initiative has brought together a wide range of stakeholders, including businesses, environmental groups, and others to help protect and preserve the Great Lakes in an effective way.

For many years, contaminated sediments have polluted rivers and posed harmed to our environment and the health of our communities in the Great Lakes. Milwaukee has been no exception.  Now, the bipartisan infrastructure law funding will turbocharge efforts to finally end this legacy of pollution.

For several years now, MMSD, EPA, the State of Wisconsin, City of Milwaukee, and other stakeholders including community groups have been working to clean up one of those Areas of Concerns right here in Milwaukee.  Just this past summer, state legislation was passed that would help MMSD create a containment facility into which contaminated sediment from the Milwaukee Area of Concern will be safely disposed of.

It is my hope that this additional funding will help support those efforts and expedite the date when these contaminated sediments no longer pose an environmental or public health threat and end the beneficial use impairments that have dogged this part of our city for nearly four decades. 

 In Milwaukee, cleaning up our Area of Concern will help create jobs, improve access to the waters that have been closed off from the public, benefit the surrounding neighborhoods, and help businesses and others take advantage of new economic opportunities arising from the ability to again enjoy this part of our city safely.”

An AOC is a location in the Great Lakes that has experienced significant environmental degradation and the public is unable to fully use the resource in a safe or beneficial way.  The Milwaukee Estuary, where the three major rivers in Milwaukee, the Milwaukee the Menomonee and the Kinnickinnic Rivers meet and enter Lake Michigan, has been designated as an AOC since the 1980’s because of impaired public benefits such as fish consumption, healthy fisheries, water quality, and wildlife habitat resulting from a history of contamination.   These impairments waterways, means the public can’t fully use or enjoy these water resources in a safe way for eating, drinking, swimming, fishing, and more.

The EPA projects that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding, combined with funds from annual Great Lakes Restoration Initiative appropriations and funding from other sources, will, between now and 2030, enable stakeholders to complete work across 22 of the 25 remaining AOCs, with Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding directly supporting 11 of these sites.

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