Toledo Mayor asks Congress not to drain Great Lakes cleanup

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz wants the swamp to do more to clean up the Great Lakes.

The lakes contain more than 20 percent of the world's freshwater. "This is a national Issue," said Kapszukiewicz.

Kapszukiewicz spent Thursday on Capitol Hill, trying to convince lawmakers not to drain funding for addressing toxic substances, invasive species, and pollution in Lake Erie. President Trump's budget calls for slashing federal assistance to clean the Great Lakes from $300-million to $30-million.

"The lake isn't red like republicans, it isn't blue like democrats," said Kapszukiewicz, "and we can all agree we don't want it to be green." Green is the color of toxic algae blooms that kill fish and tainted the city's drinking water in 2014.

Lawmakers successfully blocked the president's proposed cuts to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative last year. They did the same when President Obama's suggested more modest cuts.

It's not just presidents that are tired of the GLRI's cost. "It's turning out to be another example of something that's not achieving its objective," said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste.

Schatz said the program is hard to track, making it tough to see results. He said state and local government should float more of the funding, arguing cash from DC isn't spent effectively.

"A lot of the money is wasted," he said, "whether it's for the Great Lakes or any other part of the country."

Neither Schatz nor Kapszukiewicz expect Congress to break from its recent tradition of keeping cleanup funding in place.

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