Saturday, August 15, 2009

Healthy Lake Erie means stronger economy

Congress is getting ready to vote on legislation that could pump up to $475 million into funding for Great Lakes restoration.

With blue skies and the temperature in the 80's, this was a perfect day on Lake Erie. At Edgewater Beach in Cleveland, lots of kids were playing in the shallow water near the warm sand.

With 10,000 miles of freshwater coastline, millions treasure the freshwater seas known as the Great Lakes. Patty Palyu and her daughter Christine were walking back to their car after a great day in the sunshine at Edgewater.

"I grew up with the tradition of going to the beach whenever our family had the chance to get to Lake Erie," said Patty. "And it's free, it's close and beautiful."

Christine Palyu added, "the water today was very clean. I just hope people in Washington understand how important this is for all of us."

In downtown Cleveland, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown talked about the impending vote in Congress to provide $475 million in funding for Great Lakes restoration.

Senator Brown said, "this federal money just makes great sense. Investing in the Great Lakes region is an important way to promote economic development."

The economists at the Brookings Institute think tank estimate that the Great Lakes region would see at least a $2 economic benefit for every $1 invested in restoring Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes.

Kristy Meyer, director of Clean Water Programs for the Ohio Environmental Council said, "we need to send a clear message to Congress. Stand up for the millions of people who depend on the Great Lakes for their jobs, drinking water, and way of life."

Calvin Jefferson was taking his wife Anne and their three children to the lake this afternoon.

Said Jefferson, "I'd pay to get $2 dollars back for a $1 investment if it's something worth it, like the beaches here."

Across Northeast Ohio boaters and fishermen know the treasure that we have with our billions of gallons of fresh water.

Fishing charter captain, Mike Blankenship walked off his dock at the Inner City Yacht Club and said, "Look around. This is the walleye capital of the world. Let's get it together and use it right".

But invasive species like the goby are a constant threat.

Getting rid of them could be part of the federal funding package. The federal restoration plan would include cleaning up the rivers and tributaries that flow into Lake Erie.

Carol Caruso, Vice President of the Greater Cleveland Partnership said, "in terms of jobs, the economy, the lifestyle and the attraction of people to this wonderful city. I can't think of a city that's better positioned to take advantage of this federal funding."

Cleveland understands the need and the priority of restoring the sweet water seas. And many hope that Congress won't miss the boat when the Senate votes on the Great Lakes appropriation in September.

© 2009 WKYC-TV

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