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W E E K L Y  U P D A T E    December 12,  2016
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Congress Passes Continuing Resolution and Water Resources Bill to End Session 

Both the House and Senate managed to finish up their remaining work for the year last week by passing a continuing resolution (CR) that keeps the government funded through April 28, 2017 at current levels and the  " Water Infrastructure Improvements Act for the Nation (WIIN) Act. " The WIIN Act includes both the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which authorizes certain Army Corps of Engineer projects, and the Water and Waste Act of 2016, which will help provide aid to Flint, Michigan and other communities facing drinking water contaminations.

The WIIN Act also includes several key provisions specifically benefiting the Great Lakes, including:
  • Reauthorizes the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative(GLRI) at $300 million a year over the next five years;
  • Makes improvements to the Great Lakes Navigation System (GLNS), including making permanent certain funding allocations from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to the GLNS;
  • Creates a Great Lakes Harmful Algal Bloom Coordinator; and 
  • Reauthorizes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act and makes important changes to the Army Corps' Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Restoration program.  

A summary of the legislation can be viewed here

For more information, contact  Matthew McKenna , Director of the Great Lakes Washington Program or  Jared Mott , Senior Policy Analyst for the Mississippi River at the Northeast-Midwest Institute.
NEMWI Provides Input into EPA's Potential Lead and Copper Rule Revisions

In October 2016, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a White Paper summarizing key issues that should be addressed through the forthcoming revision of the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR), as well as potential elements under consideration for the revised rule.  The Northeast-Midwest Institute (NEMWI) supports all the major concepts outlined in the White Paper for the LCR revisions, including the focus on minimizing exposure to lead in drinking water, clear and enforceable requirements, transparency, environmental justice, children's health, and integrating drinking water with cross-media lead reduction efforts. 

To improve the LCR's effectiveness in protecting public health, the NEMWI has offered a number of recommendations for greater specificity in the areas discussed in EPA's White Paper. Additional proactive measures, including ongoing surveillance for lead in drinking water and aggressive public education, are critical for protecting public health and preventing further catastrophic lead exposures such as those that happened in Washington, DC and in Flint, MI. While EPA's White Paper recommends these measures, NEMWI recommends greater specificity as discussed in the response, alongside acknowledging that CCT alone never can be a sufficient remedy for public health protection.

A copy of the NEMWI full recommendations to the EPA can be viewed here.  

For more information, contact  Elin Betanzo , Director of the Safe Drinking Water Research and Policy Program at  the Northeast-Midwest Institute.

NEMWI: Strengthening the Region that Sustains the Nation