By Dana Kozlov

(CBS) – It’s a federally funded program geared at cleaning up the Great Lakes and keeping water safe, but it’s on the chopping block, as part of President Trump’s proposed budget cuts.

As CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports, experts fear the program’s elimination could sink Lake Michigan.

In just weeks, beaches will open for the season. It’s water quality is usually safe for swimming. But experts fear a change if the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is cut.

“This money is used to clean up contaminated spaces, to ensure safe drinking water,” says Rachel Havrelock, director of the Freshwater Lab at University of Illinois-Chicago.

Trump wants the $300 million annual program gone, as part of his cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency. The administration wants to return the responsibility for funding local environmental efforts to the states.

Gary, Indiana’s mayor, Karen Freeman-Wilson, says that could mean contamination of the resource and less access to beaches.

“This means that water can’t be used for agriculture. It can’t be used for fishing. It can’t be used for recreational purposes,” Havrelock says.

These issues were front and center at UIC’s summit, drawing mayors from several Great Lakes cities.

President Obama enacted the initiative in 2010.

It has always had bipartisan support, especially in the eight Great Lake states.



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