Taking Action to Restore Our Nation’s Critical Water Resources

Roxanne Blackwell


Recently, the administration unveiled a fiscal year 2018 budget blueprint that recommended a number of cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget, including eliminating all funding for the Great Lakes Initiative and the Chesapeake Bay program. Together, these critical programs are making great progress in restoring some of nation’s most important water resources.

The Great Lakes Initiative was launched in 2010 to address over a century of abuse, industrial waste, and other pollution in the largest system of fresh surface water in the world — the Great Lakes. Since its inception in 2010, the Initiative has funded 3,400 restoration and toxic clean-up projects. Specific projects include improving water quality, combating invasive species, and restoring 150,000 acres of habitat and 300 miles of shoreline to encourage development along unused and once-contaminated land.

The Chesapeake Bay Program was established in 1983 to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed from decades of pollution and neglect. Since its inception, the program has made important advances in restoring the Bay. Cuts to this vital program could reverse years of hard-won progress and would threaten clean water for the millions of people who call the Chesapeake Bay watershed home. 

The Great Lakes contain over 90 percent of our nation’s fresh water and are also a critical economic engine supporting jobs, commerce, agriculture, transportation, and tourism for millions of people across the country. More than 1.5 million people depend on the Great Lakes for their livelihood, generating about $62 billion in annual wages. Unfortunately, over the years, industrial waste and other pollution has severely contaminated the Great Lakes. Restoration of the Great Lakes is critical to the public health and economic vitality of the nation. 

Similarly, the Chesapeake Bay, the nation’s largest estuary, is a critical natural resource and economic driver for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed region. The watershed encompasses 64,000 square miles, supplying drinking water to more than 11 million people in the region. The protection and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and its streams and rivers are essential to a healthy and vibrant economy. The Bay is a vital part of countless economic opportunities for the region including, fishing and agriculture, tourism, real estate and the shipping industry. Like the Great Lakes, decades of population growth, neglect, and pollution took their toll on the Bay ecosystem, resulting in polluted waterways and dwindling natural resources. 

Both the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Chesapeake Bay Program are making great strides in restoring these important bodies of water. With relatively small federal investments, coupled with private and community assistance, these programs are yielding tangible benefits, including clean drinking water, local jobs, and economic development through tourism, real estate, and outdoor recreation. 

ASLA urges all its members to take action to save these important water resources. 

Send messages to support the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Chesapeake Bay Program.


Kevin Fry
Director, PR and

JR Taylor
PR Coordinator