The Healing Our Waters - Great Lakes Coalition
In 2004, regional and national leaders met in Grand Rapids, Michigan to explore the challenges facing the Great Lakes, identify ways to meet those challenges, and create the opportunity to move from idea to action. As a result of this meeting and the critical start-up funding provided by the Wege Foundation, the Healing Our Waters – Great Lakes Coalition was co-founded by the National Parks Conservation Association and National Wildlife Federation.
Over the past five years, the Coalition has expanded to include 110 conservation, science, environmental, and civic organizations. The HOW Coalition’s goal is to improve the health of the Great Lakes by addressing toxic sediments, invasive species, and destruction of hundreds of thousands of acres of wetlands and other habitat, while preparing for new stresses, such as climate change.
Since 2004, we have seen more victories for the Great Lakes than at any other time in history; victories that came largely as a result of the work of the Healing Our Waters Coalition. We have:
- Shaped the blueprint for Great Lakes restoration, the $20 billion “Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy to Restore and Protect the Great Lakes” published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA);
- Commissioned a pivotal study from the Brookings Institution, on the economic impact of restoring the Great Lakes to the major cities around the lakes;
- Secured the most Great Lakes restoration funding ever—$475 million, including $11 million for the National Parks of the Great Lakes— which was signed into the FY10 federal budget;
- Obtained billions of dollars from Congress through the state revolving fund program to improve sewers and stop raw sewage from spilling into the Great Lakes; and
- Obtained reauthorization of the Great Lakes Legacy Act to clean up toxic hotspots at $54 million a year for two years.
Now the HOW Coalition is launching an expanded program that includes implementation strategies, counsel to HOW members applying for Great Lakes restoration grants from EPA, and new scientific study to determine what success in restoration looks like. This will help ensure that the new $475 million flowing into Great Lakes restoration is spent widely and success are tracked.
Peter Wege, our founding sponsor once said: “No single foundation, no single organization, no single person will restre the Great Lakes by working alone. It will take close partnerships among all those who care for the Lakes, including government and elected officials.” With NPCA’s leadership, the HOW Coalition is that partnership working toward success.